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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Nintendo apes around with new titles
Nintendo makes some noise with two new titles in the run-up to Christmas, says Daniel Etherington of BBC Collective in his weekly games column.

Screenshot of Pikmin 2
Captain Olimar has to save the day, again
It is been a comparatively quiet year for Nintendo in terms of big releases - no Zelda, no Metroid yet, no Mario just yet, not even Resident Evil 4 until early next year.

While Animal Crossing may be a significant title, it took so long to get to the UK that any accompanying fanfare was muted.

This silence is over, replaced this month by the endearing squeaks of the Pikmin and the sound of bongos being thumped.

Olimar home

In Pikmin 2, the sequel to the acclaimed 2001 title, hero Captain Olimar has reached home only to find his employer on the verge of bankruptcy.

To save the company he must collect "treasure" from a very familiar planet and pay off the debt.

Unlike in the original Pikmin, Olimar, here with a colleague, Louie, does not have a time limit, taking a certain amount of tension out of the proceedings.

People banging bongos
Up to four sets of bongos can be hooked up for even rowdier sessions. Whether the results are actually musical at all is another matter

Otherwise, it is business fairly much as usual.

It must be said that if Pikmin 2 was not so imaginative and loveable, it could come off as decidedly didactic and regimental.

The game is a bizarrely enjoyable combination of strategy, commerce, recycling and teamwork, replete with frank product placement.

Much of the game comes across as a non-Japanese person's notion of Japanese working practices: the industrious determination, the cooperation, the individual as part of a collective system.

You even have to commute home at the end of the day. All of which just goes to highlight the game's poetry; that it does not feel arduous or overly serious.

Party apes

Donkey Konga is a very different experience, but no less quintessential. As with Wario Ware Inc: Mega Party Games, this is Nintendo reclaiming party gaming from the EyeToy.

A rhythm action game, it involves bashing rhythmically along with a series of familiar tunes.

The novel bongo peripheral is equipped with a noise sensor, so you are also required to intersperse the bashing with hand-clapping.

Up to four sets of bongos can be hooked up for even rowdier sessions. Whether the results are actually musical at all is another matter.

The only real shame here is the quality of some of the cover versions.

Still, the tunes range from Oye Como Va to Wild Thing, by way of Don't Stop Me Now and Hungarian Dance #5 in G Minor of all things, as well as a variety of Nintendo game themes.

They are diverse enough to keep things moving, nay hectic, as your home fills with the sound of thumping and mirth.


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