I have to admit, I found PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond rather charming in that reconnect-with-your-inner-child sort of way. That’s not to say it’s a throwback though; PokéPark 2 is primarily filled with Pokémon fresh from the Pokémon Black and Pokémon White generation. The game begins by trying to grasp at a serious tone as Reshiram, hovering over a lake of lava, and Zekrom, standing in the midst of a frozen wasteland, discuss a coming darkness that threatens to swallow the world of PokéPark, but this tone is quickly lost when Pikachu and Co. are romping around a beach and fighting baddies in a cake shop.
The basic gist of the game is to go to all the areas of Wish Park, the wonders beyond, playing as Pikachu, Oshawott, Tepig, or Snivy, and bring back the Pokémon that have been trapped there while trying to piece together exactly what is going on. Exploration is simple enough as the areas are all relatively small, but then again, so are the Pokémons’ legs, so be prepared to continuously mash the dash button to get around at a reasonable pace unless you are just super patient.
You’ll encounter new sets of Pokémon as you adventure through the different areas of PokéPark looking for the portals to Wish Park. While the gameplay is pretty linear, there are dozens of mini tasks in each area that you can chose to do such as playing Chase, Hide and Seek, and mini battles with the other Pokémon to gain Berries to spend on improving moves and make Pals who will end up helping you along the way. The mini tasks differ from Pokémon to Pokémon, and there’s only one way to find out what they want and that’s to start polishing up your social skills. Approach the other Pokémon to start a dialogue, though it’s best to stop dashing before you try to do this otherwise you’ll just end up headbutting them into a wall, then they’ll ask you whether or not you want to play with them, and after catching, finding, or beating them, they decide they want to be your Pal. And the more, the merrier because the portals to Wish Park only open if you wish really hard, and the more Pals you can call on to wish with you, the easier the portals will open.
The battles with the other Pokémon were a lot of fun, though say goodbye to any notion you might have about it being turn-based strategy like in the handheld games. The best strategy seems to be to run up and pummel your opponent, constantly knocking them over so they can’t charge you or power up a move. While the turn-based combat is gone, Nintendo does keep in some of the old school combat strategies such as type weaknesses and strengths, so don’t think you can send Pikachu to battle a rock type because it’ll only end in tears.
Speaking of ending in tears, I have learned from experience to religiously save my games after I make any progress because I am one acquainted with getting killed at every turn and having to constantly restart from my last saved game, but thankfully that habit isn’t necessary in PokéPark 2. There are no lives or game overs to worry about, so even if you do lose a battle, your opponent just gloats for a moment and then you get to try again or choose another Pokémon to battle with.
And try not to depend too much on the camera angle in battle as it’s not anchored to your character’s point of view unless you hit B to adjust it every few seconds. It isn’t a problem while exploring but while fighting it’s a little disheartening that the move you spent precious time powering up while your opponent was picking themselves up out of the dirt lands a little too far to the left. That’s the only picky thing to say concerning the controls, because otherwise they’re pretty solid and easy to remember as the same setup is applied to how all the characters’ moves are assigned.
There is also an incentive, other than saving the world of course, to clearing all of the four different Attractions because they can be revisited later on and they gain a multiplayer option. Up to four can play the different Attractions, with each of the Attractions offering either a baking, dancing, shooting, or flying game.
Bottom Line: It’s cute. And while it is aimed at a younger audience, it’s not completely without appeal for Pokémon fans in general.
Recommendation: While it might not do much for a Pokémon veteran, it’s great for young Pokémon fans or parents looking for a kid-friendly game. Plus the multiplayer option is handy for households with more than one kid because they can actually play together instead of fighting over the remote.[rating=3.5]