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‘Pikmin 2’ and The Waterwraith – The Aquatic Enigma

Pikmin 2 has quite the load of bosses in its assortment of awesome dungeons, but one cave and the creature it holds stands out above the rest as genuinely horrifying. Anyone who has explored it will recognize the Submerged Castle not only for its ridiculous difficulty spike but for the haunting enigma that dwells within its walls.

As the name suggests, this cave is completely underwater, or the entrance is at least. Because of this, only blue Pikmin can enter its depths. This was all fine and good until I realized that every kind of hazard is present inside. There’s water, which the blues can deal with, but then there’s poison, fire, and even electricity that instantly kills almost every kind of Pikmin.

My general approach to playing a Pikmin game is to take every action slowly and keep a level head, which is absolutely impossible in the Submerged Castle. All of the hazards above should be easily surmountable, but I was forced to rush by something chasing me. Something evil, relentless, and hell-bent on murdering every single Pikmin in my army: The Waterwraith.

Unlike every other dungeon, the Submerged Castle’s boss fight takes place throughout the entire cave. After the first floor, and after the player starts gaining some confidence, a cutscene plays showing a gelatinous beast riding on two concrete rollers fall from the sky. The Waterwraith chases them throughout the entire dungeon, regardless of where they are or what they’re doing. Oh, and it’s actually impossible to damage it, so that’s cool.

The Waterwraith. 

If you see it — run. That’s your only option. If you can’t see it, you can hear it. The Waterwraith lets out eerily human-like moans as it patrols the halls of the Submerged Castle, almost resembling hums of pain. Although, no sympathy should be given to this behemoth, as it will instantly flatten every last one of your Pikmin if it gets the chance.

The Waterwraith’s AI is some of the most impressive in Pikmin 2, but this is far from a good thing. The moment it spots a Pikmin, it locks on. The monster will follow them until you lose it, which is a difficult task in and of itself. If you can’t lose it, the Waterwraith will eventually corner you; if that happens, expect a mass Pikmin extinction.

After three levels of absolute hell, you arrive at the final floor. Here, there are purple lollipop plants, which can turn any type of Pikmin into the heavyset purple variety. Because the entrance was underwater, only blue Pikmin were allowed into the Submerged Castle, so there was no way to actually have purples. Now you should have ten, and these fat angels are the Waterwraith’s worst enemy.

For whatever reason, the watery beast is terrified of the *thud* that the purple Pikmin make when falling out of the air. This fear makes it take on a solid form, meaning that it is actually able to be damaged, and therefore killed. At this point, the Waterwraith is an absolute joke. It whines and runs away from the player and their army, often just tripping or curling up into the fetal position.

The Waterwraith, after hearing a *thud*.

This is their chance to lay one of the most deserved beat downs in gaming history. All Pikmin latch onto the previously indestructible monster and beat the utter crap out of it. The aquatic enigma lets out one more wail of pain and, finally, the seemingly endless battle has come to an end. After an hour of torment, the Waterwraith comes crashing down by your own hand. The prize: the infinitely valuable “Pluckaphone,” which lets the player pick all of the buried Pikmin in an area with a blow of the whistle.

The Waterwraith and the Submerged Castle, in general, feel pretty out of place in Pikmin 2. While I was used to semi-light hearted dungeons with cutesy themes and treasure, this watery grave isn’t so. All other enemies are based on some sort of animal or bug, but the Waterwraith is completely alien. Even its description says its physical form is anchored to an entirely different dimension. The Waterwraith is truly an enigma in an otherwise plausible game, and that’s why it’s one of the best bosses ever conceived.

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