PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond begins with an ominously stark opening, Reshiram and Zekrom discussing an impending disaster that is set to swallow the two worlds – wondering whether their powers will be enough to restore order and avert it from occurring. Yet, they question that if everything is destined to perish, then they should not alter such course. Troubles indeed, although they place hope on the destiny of everyone’s favourite electrical mouse Pikachu, who is foreshadowed to prevent such tragedy.
The player’s journey within the vibrant Unova Region begins with a brief tutorial, in which we find Pikachu joining up with childhood friend Piplup as they head on an outing to Seasong Beach. Along the way you’re introduced to the basic controls, namely performing a Dash and Jumping, before Piplup challenges you to a game of chase. This is an early example of the contests that regularly feature, which also include the likes of hide-and-seek, battles, and brief fetch quests, that prove a core part of PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond.
Arrival at Seasong Beach sees fellow Pokémon gathered around to hear the mischievous Krokorok and Sandile praising the plaudits of the nearby Wish Park, promising visitors free attractions alongside the ridiculously tempting incentive of all-you-can-eat cake. All isn’t as it seems, however, with Pikachu and Piplup transported through a mysterious portal to another world where Wish Park exists. The promised cake itself making those who consume it behave incredibly oddly.
It is here that you’re introduced to Wish Park’s initial attraction, Cofagrigus’ Cake Contraption, where you gather as many cake ingredients as you can within a whack-a-mole type mini-game, shooting ingredients with the Wii Remote as they pop on-screen.
After this, Oshawott soon joins you, on his own search for the missing Pokémon. Realising that something is amiss within Wish Park, Pikachu, Piplup and Oshawott make a break for the portal, only for Piplup to tragically sacrifice himself so that the others may escape. Allied with new found friend Oshawott, you, therefore, set out to seek advice from Area Keeper Samurott where, having discussed your plight, you’re teamed up to venture on your quest to save the trapped Pokémon.
PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond is a simplistic experience with exploration and befriending Pokémon remaining key ingredients, gathered friends imperative as the only means of which the player will be able to re-enter Wish Park. The previously mentioned contests are encountered with regular occurrence, progressively increasing in difficulty as you delve further into the game. Success within their chosen challenge sees you befriend your opponent, and the more you do so, the more new Pokémon will appear in the nearby vicinity. Your PokéPark Pad, a gift from Piplup early in the game, proving an invaluable tool, allowing you to track which species you have already built friendships with.
Later in your adventure, Snivy and Tepig will also join you. Each of your Pokémon quartet has their own strengths; Pikachu can charge objects with his electricity; Oshawott can swim, performed through a rather adorable backstroke; Snivy can leap higher than the other Pokémon; and Tepig is able to smash obstacles, such as rocks, that get in your way. Rather than the player simple sticking to their favourites, this encourages each to be used to overcome various instances – switching between them seeing all four gaze adorably at the screen, pleading to be selected.
Battling plays an integral role, within contests and minor boss fights, the player simply aiming to deplete their opponent’s health bar before their own flickers into obscurity. These happen entirely in real-time, the player able to employ the use of a variety of attacks to beat their enemy, with elemental weaknesses still coming into play. Unfortunately these situations still pose little challenge, with players able to spam attacks to ensure that their repeatedly floored opponent is never able to stand up.
Berries, scattered across areas and hidden within boxes, become the game’s currency system. These can be used for training, either to allow you to increase your chosen Pokémon’s HP or the amount of damage that their moves cause, or for item purchases that may be given to Pokémon in an effort to befriend them.
Regrettably, it is an overall lack of challenge that limits the appeal of PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond wider than that of the younger audience, or truly dedicated Pokéfans, who will marvel at being able to explore faithfully recreated environments from the Unova region.
What it continues to prove though, is that the Pokémon series can still successfully transition itself into the realms of 3D, yet, fails to broaden the scope beyond that first seen within the original, PokéPark Wii: Pikachu’s Adventure. At its core, there’s still a resoundingly enjoyable experience here full of adorable charm. It’s just one that doesn’t entirely deliver on its potential, disappointingly.