LocoRoco

SCE Japan Studio isn’t afraid to get weird. In 2006, they LocoRoco for the PlayStation Portable. The strange game would come with colorful singing little bouncy balls, immersive landscapes, and catchy tunes. With simplistic controls and easy gameplay, LocoRoco invited all gamers to have a go with the strange world that it had conceived. How does the game hold up on the PSP?

Story:
If you played the game without reading the manual, which is what I did, you still would have a general idea of what was going on in LocoRoco despite the lack of language or text. Through a short cutscene, you’ll see black blobs that look like they have dreadlocks invade a planet. They begin to eat away at the happy squishy balls that jiggle around peacefully. Soon, these little balls must team up and take back their planet through the power of…singing? Well, that’s my version of the story but if there’s any confusion, let’s take a look at what the manual says.

“A long, long way away, past the moon, the sun and further than the very best telescope could see, an extra special planet spun contentedly in space. This planet was very much alive, covered with greenery and home to many exotic species of creatures, including the every-cheerful LocoRoco.

The LocoRoco lived in harmony with the planet, helping to look after the plants and generally making it a pleasant place to be, playing and singing the days away.

It seemed like the fun and laughter would go on forever… that was until the day the Moja Corps came down from the stars to take over!

Now everything’s going wrong. The LocoRoco are a peaceful bunch, they don’t know how to deal with the invaders from outer space! It’s up to you. There’s only one thing to do:

Take control of the planet, tilt the land, and rescue the LocoRoco!

Gameplay:
LocoRoco is presented in a very cartoonish style, something that you’d see on Cartoon Network. Everything is very colorful, cheerful, and happy. It’s all very cute, even the enemies aren’t very scary. The best part of LocoRoco is the music and believe me you’ll hum along even though you don’t speak the fictional language that the LocoRoco sing in.

There are 40 levels to play over five worlds. Each level starts the same, with a single LocoRoco and it’s up to you to get him to the end of the level and through various obstacles. Controls are very simple, you’ll use only three buttons the entire game! The left and right triggers on the back of the PSP will tilt the screen to the left or right making your LocoRocos roll in a certain direction. If you push the triggers at the same time, the LocoRocos will jump up in the air. The last button you’ll use is “circle” which can separate the LocoRoco with a quick push or bring them together into one big blob by holding it.

LocoRoco isn’t a difficult game and there’s no change in the difficulty as you progress through the worlds. Level one was just as easy as the final level. Each world has eight levels and they all vary a bit. There will be a flower stage, a snow stage, a star stage, a creature stage, and a few others I’m forgetting but typically each world will have one of these. My favorite stages were the snow levels and creature levels. The snow levels made the LocoRoco slide at top speeds and creature levels took place inside an animal like a penguin or a frog as the LocoRoco traveled through the insides. When LocoRoco get going, it reminds me of the Sonic the Hedgehog sequences where he’d spin perfectly through an entire level at top speed. Most of the time, you’ll have your LocoRoco team up to form a huge blob as it’s easier to control than 10-20 individuals but on occasion, the level or player will break them up to enter small spaces or tubes.

While making your way through each level is easy for the most part, exploration is a huge part of the game and you’re scored on it and the end of each level. There are small little spacemen to find that are hidden away in secret tunnels or holes. Other times you’ll need to collect a certain number of LocoRoco to wake up a creature by singing to it. They will awaken and give you a gift usually in the form of a building part to the LocoRoco house which can be accessed at the main menu and customized to your liking to have the LocoRoco play in.

Most levels I’d explore to the best of my ability but near the end of the game, I just wanted to finish so I’d skip being extra snoopy. The only way you can get a “game over” is if all of your LocoRoco die either by being devoured by mean creatures or punctured by sharp spikes. This only happened twice to me and it was the same level in the final world. I became careless and ran into the same spike twice at the beginning of the level resulting in a game over.

The final level actually had some skill involved as you had to fight the king of the Moja Corps. Using bouncing floors you had to jump on his head to deflate him and then again to hurt him. You repeated this sequence a few times before he was vanquished. The power of song was the theme throughout the game as the LocoRoco would sing in unison to wake up allies or show appreciation for being at the end of the level. As I said earlier, they don’t speak a real language but it’s catchy.

Memories:
I remember seeing LocoRoco characters and landscapes in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. I had no idea what the heck it was or who they were, I just remember the level gets shredded by a Metal Gear as you fight through the stage. I had a fun time playing LocoRoco after receiving it as a gift from my sister-in-law.

Overall:
LocoRoco can be played by anyone but the game isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a challenge you won’t find it here but if you’re looking for a unique game with plenty of charm, exploration, and some easy fun, LocoRoco is the right choice. I loved the way anyone can pick it up and play and I encourage you to play a few levels before judging it.

LocoRoco scores an 8 out of 10.

Do you remember when LocoRoco first came out? Which color of LocoRoco did you play with? Did you build their house up? Did you catch yourself humming along to their tunes? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.

If you’d like to own a copy of LocoRoco, you can purchase a used copy of it for the PSP for $8 on eBay.

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