The Poko is the currency used on Olimar's home planet, Hocotate. Pokos were officially introduced in Pikmin 2 as an important part of the plot. Olimar and Louie are tasked with obtaining × 10,000 to repay Hocotate Freight's debt, which is made possible by selling treasures and enemy corpses found by the two explorers while on the planet of the Pikmin. In comparison, × 100 is more than a year's wage for a Hocotatian. Pokos are oval-shaped, thin, and made of some sort of golden colored material.
Throughout their adventure, Olimar and his partner can task Pikmin to pick up and carry treasures into the Hocotate ship or the Research Pod. When a treasure is successfully recovered, it is analyzed by the ship, and is given a value in Pokos. In the overworld areas, recovered treasures are added to the Poko count instantly, and enemy corpses can only be delivered to the Onions to increase Pikmin population. But in caves, enemies can be brought to the Research Pod to exchange for a small amount of Pokos, and any amount of money gathered while inside a cave will only be added to the total if the cave is exited via a geyser. Otherwise, the collected objects are left behind in order to allow the Pikmin and leaders to escape.
Although not related to the game's story, Pokos also play a role in Pikmin 2's Challenge Mode, as part of the scoring system. Despite Pokos never being mentioned by name in Pikmin 3, the game's Collect Treasure! stages have a point counter at the top of the screen that shows an icon quite similar to that of a Poko.
Mentions of Pokos
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Hocotate money is mentioned at some points in the first two games. When the final ship part in Pikmin is recovered, the Secret Safe, Olimar states that it is as full as ever, meaning none of his Pokos were lost. Some pieces of mail in Pikmin 2 allude to Pokos too:
- Olimar's son mentions how his allowance has been cut, restored and later doubled.
- Olimar's wife mentions how she finds her husband's "secret cash stash".
- Olimar's wife notes how Olimar's bonuses arrive after repaying the debt, and later, his son mentions how he should give one of the checks to a spammer.
- One of the supposed spammers mentions saving "tons of Pokos" at a website.
- Olimar's daughter mentions how an orchestra play the family went to was supposedly expensive.
- Olimar's children point out how their mother's Poko craze changed their lifestyle to the worst.
- Olimar's wife explains how she "lost a small fortune buying lottery tickets".
The Poko Counter in a Collect Treasure! stage.
The texture for a Poko in Pikmin 2; it receives filters for its color during gameplay.
The texture for a Poko in Pikmin 3.
- Pokos bear a strong resemblance to the coins found in the Mario series of video games.
- The intrinsic value of Pokos fluctuates within Pikmin 2 and across games to Pikmin 3, rather like real fiat money; thus, there is no one conversion value to a real-life currency. It can be determined, however, that one Poko is worth much less than the 2004+ US dollar. For example, the worn gold and copper in the Lustrous Element (assuming it is a typical 1850s gold dollar, at about 1.7 grams or .05 troy ounces) would yield a value in 2004 of around $22.02; meanwhile the high demand for it on Hocotate makes it worth 1000 Pokos. By this "Lustrous Element standard", $2.02 is close to a year's salary for a Hocotate Freight worker.
- One may also argue that the value of Pokos is extremely high, ranging from anywhere between about $150 - $560, but given the vagueness of 100 Pokos being "more than a year's salary" it would be extremely difficult to get more specific. The average pay of a freight worker in the real world is about $20,000 per year (which is near the lower end of the salary spectrum), so plugging that into proportions we can determine the cost of Pokos through this method. Using a reasonable range of numbers divisible by 12 under 100 (in this case, 36 - 60) one comes out with values that round out to $150 and $560. The lower half of the scale is more likely, as Hocotate Freight was entrusted to move golden pikpik carrots, which by this custom standard (and minus the S.S. Dolphin's unknown cost) is worth between $1.5 - $5.7 million, and one might want to move expensive cargo such as this to a well respected and prosperous freight company.
- “At long last... I've found the final part...my Secret Safe! And it's as full as ever! How glad I am that I've persisted in my search without losing hope... Now I can leave this planet without any regrets. Maybe I'll even stop and pick up some souvenirs for my wife and kids back on Planet Hocotate!
At last I have found it-my most prized possession! I am so relieved... It's as heavy as ever!” – Captain Olimar in a monolog about the Secret Safe