S.S. Dolphin II
The S.S. Dolphin II (ドルフィン2号機?) is Captain Olimar's vessel in Hey! Pikmin. At the start of the game, Olimar is piloting the ship to head back to Hocotate, until he hits an asteroid and plummets to an unknown planet. The ship crashes against the ground, and stays in that state. The cone of the ship has a detachable pod with its own artificial intelligence. This pod guides Olimar throughout his adventure.
Like the S.S. Dolphin, the ship only has seating for Olimar as well as the color blue being featured in both ships' designs. The Dolphin II is more similar in shape to the Hocotate ship, and features a research pod similar to the ship's. It is rounder in appearance and features four small rockets in addition to having a propeller. Unlike either ship, however, the Dolphin II does not seem to have a Chronos Reactor.
Some cutscenes take place inside the cockpit. At the start of the game, because it's out of Sparklium, only emergency lights are on, but as more Sparklium is recovered, more and more of the ship's interior lights up. The layout only changes when certain levels of Sparklium have been reached, which sometimes coincide with an upgrade unlock.
The exploration pod is Olimar's assistant throughout the events of Hey! Pikmin, guiding him all along his adventure. It is the pod at the nose of the S.S. Dolphin II, and it houses the ship's cockpit room and artificial intelligence system. It is able to fly around freely and communicate with Olimar via a loudspeaker, as well as beam him and any Pikmin he's got with him inside, to return to the Pikmin Park. In general, it looks physically similar to the Research Pod in Pikmin 2.
The pod can be seen at the end of each area, serving as the exit. If the area has a secret exit, then the pod can be found in the location of both the normal exit and the secret one. The exploration pod is also present in the Pikmin Park, in some cutscenes at the beginning and the end of the game. At the start of the story, it helps the player learn the mechanics of the game.
One of the S.S. Dolphin II's components plays an important role in Hey! Pikmin's plot, in that without it, the ship cannot return to Hocotate. The ship first realizes that it is missing when the player reaches × 30,000; a cutscene plays where the ship analyzes if they are ready to return to Hocotate, and realizes that the Sparklium Converter is missing. If this happens before The Last Lair is completed, the ship will not be able to find it, and will tell Olimar to continue searching, in hopes of finding it in his adventures. Otherwise, the ship will try a scan, and will find that it is in the last sector, and will also detect a massive creature, the final boss of the game.
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