Let’s face it – the PSP has had a major shortage of memorable games. Some because of huge load times, others because it is just something we’ve played elsewhere and some are just plain bad. There have been a few gems, however – Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and Lumines proved to be fun games that made a PSP worth buying. However, nothing else has really stood above the crowd and risen to the ranks of incredible game.
LocoRoco comes along to save the day for the PSP, though. At first glance, LocoRoco looks like nothing more than a kiddy game, something that most gamers wouldn’t give a second thought to. If you spend any time looking into the game, though, you’ll realize that it is far more. While it is easy to learn, it presents quite a few fun challenges along the way.
LocoRoco is a new platformer for the PSP. See, you play as a LocoRoco and you’re simply trying to grow and bring peace back to your world. To do that, you’re not going to walk around with guns and blow stuff away. You’re not going to pull out a sword and chop enemies to death. All you do is tilt the planet back and forth. Seriously, the controls are that simple. You only use the L button and the R button to tilt. Sure, you’ll press them both to jump sometimes and, on a rare occasion, hit O to make the huge LocoRoco split up. Still, though, the controls remain incredibly simple.
Throughout the levels, you will find fruit to eat, flowers that will increase LocoRoco’s size and even your friends, the MuiMui. You’ll have to occasionally take out a Muja, those evil flying tendril things. To do that, you’ll just jump right into them. Sometimes, you might have to jump up and squash an enemy too. Taking out enemies, though, really isn’t the point of the game – it is more based around collecting the various items scattered about the world.
The game definitely looks like a ridiculously simple one on the outside. Once you start playing it, though, you realize just how deep it is. Getting to the next area can be hard as can finding the three hidden MuiMuis in each level. Collecting each piece of fruit and every flower in a level can take forever – and it is a challenge that you’ll come to welcome.
While the gameplay itself makes for a fun and quirky platformer, LocoRoco’s true entertainment value comes into play when you take a look at the graphics and the music. The entire world is ridiculously happy and sugary…and it pulls you in. The animations of the LocoRocos are well done – they’ll bounce back and forth, mouth to the music and just, in general, look happy. When they bounce off something in the world, their blob shape will react. There are even some characters in the world that will chew LocoRoco up and turn it into a square or rectangle to help you squeeze through certain areas of the world.
The world itself is just so colorful that you can’t help but be happy when you slide through the game’s 40 levels. Each level, while generally maintaining a similar design of slopes and hills, has a character all its own. In a snow stage, for example, the ground is more slippery in areas and, in others, the LocoRoco’s weight will push it down to reveal hidden fruits and flowers. When you split the LocoRocos up, they’ll even jump around each other and try to form a pyramid of sorts all while smiling and looking at each other – it really is, well, cute.
Any frustration that may crop up while playing the game is almost immediately alleviated by the game’s music. Each world has its own theme with the LocoRocos following along with their own parts of the song. At points, you’ll even stop to “sing” for characters in the world so that you can cheer them up – each will react differently to your singing, too.
While the gameplay is quirky enough to make LocoRoco stand out, the graphics and sound truly make this game what it is – an addictive platformer that you’ll want to come back to again and again. This is definitely the game you’ll want to play when you’re having a bad day. Sure, it may not be the type of game you’d pop in the PSP and play in public but don’t be embarrassed to pick it up in the store.
Coming up with a way to describe my overall experience with the game is difficult. I could only think of one way to share how I feel about it -- mix happiness, cheerfulness, smiles and a heaping spoon of sugar and you have LocoRoco. There really isn’t anything else out there like it – you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.