The original LocoRoco put you in the middle of an invasion. The ink-blotted Mojas upon the limbless LocoRoco’s world in an attempt to enslave the bright blue BuiBui. You’re job was to repel the invasion by defeating its snarling leader. If you stuck with the original title for a little more than seven hours, you managed to defeat the big man and deliver the planet from evil.
LocoRoco 2 (PlayStation Portable)
My favorite games are the ones with personality. Epic’s Gears of War leaps into mind as a great example of a game that manages to convey a profound sense of character. Gears of War’s overarching theme of futility colored the environments and character interactions just as much as the Lancer impacted the flow and intensity of action. LocoRoco 2’s mojo isn’t derived much differently than Epic’s pulse-pounding shooter -- just replace the guns, violence, and ravaged environments with adorable happy things.
In addition to surprise design, a variety of new abilities and minor tweaks have been introduced. Your LocoRoco can now latch onto objects, swing, and swim. Swimming is the only major new element, as some levels rely on the ability heavily. However, the other new stuff is handy for finding the variety of hidden objects scattered throughout levels.
And there are tons of hidden collectibles. None of them are as important as berries. The normal variety functions as currency for mini-games, but eating the large ones produces an additional LocoRoco that merges with your initial one, causing it to grow in diameter. Extra LocoRoco function as both a health meter and a mild puzzle-solving device. Pushing the circle button summons a thunderclap that disassembles your rolling blob into its lesser parts. Holding that button reassembles them after the task is completed.
Visually, the game never disappoints. The 2D art is sharp and adorable. It’s as if the artists stared at a basketful of puppies and were able to successfully encapsulate what makes that scene so delectable. The pastels used to color the game are even better than the aforementioned basket o’ puppies. The game is vivid, bright and bursting with happy images and whimsical backdrops. A brilliant complement to the visual flair is the game’s music and integration as a gameplay mechanic. The tunes are soft and cute like everything else in LocoRoco 2, but more importantly, they now have a purpose outside of subtle entertainment. As you progress, you’ll meet and unlock other multi-colored LocoRoco to play with. Depending on whom you choose, the default music applies minor tweaks that associate with the LocoRoco. To aid the MuiMui, you can also stop and sign to trigger events in the level. Instead of staring blankly at the screen, the game challenges you to keep rhythm with the song.
Score: 8.5 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)