|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCE Japan||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
December 26, 2008 - Though it does have its share of family-friendly games, the PSP just hasn't been able to garner a reputation as being a handheld for kids quite like its competitor the Nintendo DS. Regardless, younger gamers are still finding their way to the PSP, so it's good to see quality titles crop up from time-to-time with this audience in mind. Aside from being one of the better PSP games available, the original LocoRoco first brought a nearly immeasurable level of vibrant kid-friendly fun to the handheld several years ago. Get ready; a second helping of sugary gaming sweetness is on its way.
To say the smiling little gooey blobs that serve as the stars of LocoRoco are cute is a vast understatement. Not only do they adorably bounce, roll around, and eat fruit to grow in size, they sing along to cheery, nonsensical melodies and traverse a constantly tilting, pastel-colored world with great glee. The original game is a highly unique departure from the norm on the handheld, and it appears the highly anticipated sequel will keep much of the same excellent charm, while improving and expanding on the playful formula in many ways. If your PSP has been languishing on the shelf, you will soon find occasion to pull it out and get reacquainted with old friends.
In LocoRoco 2, the lovable little blobby critters must once again save the planet and their pals, the Mui Mui, from the heinous, space faring Moja. The dastardly invading denizens from deep space have returned to cause havoc for the LocoRoco. This time they're armed with an evil tune that eats souls - sort of. While the gameplay is still front-and-center, the sequel aims to incorporate a more developed storyline and will utilize a mixture of cutscenes, endearingly silly gibberish, and stronger character development to give some substance to your rolling and bouncing adventure.
As is in the first game, you'll play as the planet itself, undulating, twisting, and bouncing to guide your little friends on their mission. The L and R triggers are used to tilt the entire screen, causing gravity to do its job, and hitting both will make your LocoRoco jump or attack. Eating fruit will cause your friendly blob to gain in size. It can also be broken down into little LocoRoco to solve puzzles and be reformed again later. In this way, LocoRoco 2 doesn't stray far from simple, easy to pick-up formula of the original. However, new abilities are also picked up along the way. The LocoRoco will be able to swim in underwater levels, bite grass to search for hidden items, climb into shells to ride around in, and pick up other skills as you progress. Additionally, basic rhythm game elements revolving around odd creatures are worked into musical mini-games that let you collect notes and unlock bonus goodies.
The trademark splashes of bright color and children's book style artistic direction is a joyful and exuberant as ever. Though each level retains the same overall colorful visual style players have come to expect, there are quite a few different areas that each possess a distinct look and feel to them. Level designs integrate lots of fun elements like springs, jumps, loops, gears, chutes, and other gizmos to move through. The LocoRoco will also have to navigate plenty of unique terrain like the inside of a large digestive track, underwater caverns, icy lands populated with friendly snowmen, and spooky realms full of menacing trees, among others. The variety of obstacles in each locale should feel familiar to LocoRoco veterans, while offering a newer and updated experience for players.
Collecting various items continues to play a big part in the game and will greatly extend the replayability of the adventure. 100 percent completion nuts will have their work cut out for them, with 20 LocoRocos to find in each level along with scores of Pickories to unlock mini-games, musical notes, fruits, Mui Mui, stickers, and other goodies. Collected Pickories can be spent on playing a range of fun mini-games including racing, a wack-a-mole variant, and a side-scrolling shooter. As an added incentive, doing well in the mini-games lets you obtain pieces to use in your Mui Mui house. From furniture to defenses, you'll unlock lots of elements to improve the big abode.
Anyone who enjoyed LocoRoco will no doubt find much to love in LocoRoco 2 - especially since there hasn't been much to get excited about on the PSP lately. While the two games may appear to be a bit too similar on first glance, the sequel packs in enough fresh additions and extras to deliver even more of the cutesy and challenging platforming gameplay that made the first title such a blast. With only a few months left to wait for LocoRoco 2's North American release, this is one game you'll want to keep your eyes out for. Your PSP just might thank you.
CCC Staff Contributor