Despite remaining a huge, money-spinning beast, Pokemon has never really had much presence on the Wii in the system's five-and-a-half year history. Other than the limited Pokemon Battle Revolution and a couple of WiiWare titles, there hasn't really been much for Pokemon fans to sink their teeth into on the big screen.
There was one other exception, of course: the disappointingly basic PokePark: Pikachu's Adventure. While its clunky controls and repetitive tasks left much to be desired, the strength of the Pokemon name still ensured that it shifted plenty of copies. That we now have a second PokePark game, then, is no surprise and - a few little additions aside - it's more or less business as usual.
PokePark 2's story is loosely based on Tolstoy's War And Peace (we may or may not have just made that up). It tells of a mysterious portal that's turned up in the lush PokePark and is catching the attention of many of the nearby Pokemon. The portal leads to Wish Park, a dreamy and gloomy other dimension where things don't look so safe, despite all the cakes lying around. It soon emerges that these cakes are cursed and Cofagrigus is using them to brainwash Pokemon. The cad.
After an initial battle with Cofagrigus within the game's first half-hour, Pikachu and Oshawott manage to get back to the portal and return to PokePark, but in the kerfuffle Piplup and some others are left behind. It's up to Pikachu and Oshawott to befriend a bunch of other Pokemon wandering around PokePark so they can build an army big enough to head back into the Dream World and rescue the unlucky Piplup. Just like War And Peace.
Of course, all this is just a daft plot to justify bringing back the same old 'make friends with Pokemon' concept from the first game. And that's not strictly a bad thing, as it does become compelling trying to fill your friend book and figure out how to make acquaintance with each of the Pokemon in the game.
It ends up feeling like a more cordial and pleasant Pokedex, in which you 'catch' your fellow Pokémon's hearts with love, rather than cruelly detaining them in red-and-white spherical prisons.
It's a shame, then, that the process of winning them over doesn't really differ much from that of the first PokePark game. Each time you meet and talk to a Pokemon wandering about, nine times out of 10 you'll be told exactly what you need to do to be their friend.
Sometimes you'll have to play a simple game of Chase, or you'll go into a good-natured battle with them. Or alternatively you'll be asked to go on a fetch mission and retrieve something for them.
On odd occasions you'll need to do something special that didn't feature in the previous game - maybe you'll have to get from one end of an area to the other while avoiding various Pokemon's projectiles, for example - but for the most part it's either a chase, battle or fetch quest. Finding and befriending Pokemon, and adding each one to your book, is the heart of the game.
Where PokePark 2 really differs from its predecessor is in its choice of lead characters. While the original game featured Pikachu in the sole starring role, PokePark 2 also introduces Pokemon Black and White's three starter characters - Oshawott, Tepig and Snivy - at various points throughout the game, having them join your team and allowing you to switch between them as you see fit.