|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCE||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sony||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Dave||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Dave Allison
The PSP has gotten a bad rap lately, especially from outlets outside of the gaming industry. While it has obviously seen more than its fair share of ports and sequels, the PSP does have a few original properties that deserve some attention. Loco Roco is one such original property, giving players the chance to save little blobs from certain doom by assuming the role of an entire planet to solve puzzles and outwit invading aliens. Original and innovative, Loco Roco combines simple controls and intuitive puzzles to provide one of the most accessible and entertaining games the PSP has seen.
The invading Moja Corps has come from beyond to enslave the LocoRoco and take them from their home. Normally, when a game has a story such as this, the player assumes the role of some champion warrior responsible for fighting the invaders and sending them packing. In Loco Roco, you become the actual planet instead, responsible for your LocoRocos well-being and safety in the face of danger.
As the planet, you get to help the Locos by rotating the entire stage beneath them. By titling the stage to the left or right, the LocoRoco roll around under the influence of gravity. The controls for this game are quite simple, requiring only three buttons to perform all the maneuvers available. Rotating the world is as simple as pressing the L and R shoulder buttons. If you wish to pop the Locos into the air you simply push both shoulder buttons at the same time. Pressing O splits a big Loco into many little ones, while holding O brings them all back together. Thats it, just those five moves using three buttons.
Each of the games 40 levels pits your ability to maneuver the passive Locos across the terrain, avoiding obstacles and enemies while picking up other stranded Locos along the way to create a larger and larger LocoRoco mass. There are a number of different enemies that can get in the way, though none of them are really too great a threat. The Moja themselves come in three different sizes: the small-nibbling moja, the regular-sized spikey moja, and the huge boss-moja that you fight after every eight-level world. As you take damage from a moja, you lose Locos. All is not lost; you can recover the Locos before they disappear and continue on your merry little way. While this mechanic allows for gamers of all ages to advance through the game without too much frustration, the difficult may be set too low. By the first time I had to repeat a level I was well past 75 percent through the game. Without an adjustable difficulty level, this title may lack the challenge to hold hardcore gamers for too long. There are also obstacles native to the world, such as the burrs and the burrowers, but they are just as easy to deal with as everything else.
As a player advances through a level, there are a number of collectable items to discover. Each level has a total of 20 locos to discover. Besides finding every single Loco, which can certainly be a challenge in itself, there are also hidden areas to find as well. Throughout each level, creatures called Mui-Mui are hidden away. When found, they award you with presents that unlock accessories and music that you can use to customize your LocoHouse. The LocoHouse adds plenty of replay value to the title since you can repeat any level to find Mui-Mui you missed the first time through.
Titles that take the strides towards being as bizarre and artistically distinctive are seldom seen on the PSP, so its quite easy to appreciate the wacky visuals seen in Loco. The little gelatinous Locos come in a variety of colors, each sporting their own actions and music. When gathering red locos, for instance, the soundtrack shifts to a tropical beat, whereas the black Locos sport jive tunes. The entire soundtrack definitely reminds one of kids shows on television, but it is a refreshing change of pace from the bland and mindless techno, trance, rock, or hip-hop that just about every other game uses these days. Quirky interaction with the environment is the best, through. If you stop the Locos in a specific area of a stage and let them sit for a while, they will begin to dance and sing, warranting a gift from the local scenery for the entertainment. Little touches like that go a long way and keep the experience fresh throughout.
Mini-games extend the replay-value of LocoRoco even further. One of the three mini-games has you load the Locos into a Chuppa-Chuppa, which look a little like anteaters with a long trunk, and fire them into a maze. The object is to complete the maze without letting the Locos fall into a trap. The mini-games are plenty of fun, but they require 100 fruit to play. Fruit, like the Mui-Mui, are strewn throughout every stage to collect, so replaying different stages a number of times is the only way to play the different mini-games. An odd design choice to be sure, but the games are easily worth the price of admission.
A quirky and accessible game is exactly what the PSP needs at this point, especially after a disappointing summer without a definitive blockbuster title. With gameplay that you would expect to see on the DS instead of the PSP, Loco Roco is easily the most accessible title available to date and is easily one of the best titles to be seen on Sonys handheld since its debut. It will hardly put an end to the murmurs against the PSP in the media, but it will keep you glued to that big, beautiful screen for hours on end.
By Dave Allison
Loco Roco Preview
Sony wants you to go a little loco with their PSP puzzler, Loco Roco. by Patrick Evans
rescuing little blobby alien things, its only
fitting that the chosen method would be to assume
the role of the planet and rotate yourself underneath
them. That may sound bizarre, but its exactly
what Sony has in mind with their upcoming PSP platformer,
The loco rocos are being attacked by an alien invasion, killing whatever little blobs they come across. As the responsible planet that you are, it is your job to lead these little guys to safety across various levels by solving puzzles and manipulating the loco rocos.
In your repertoire of powers as a planet, you can tilt yourself at 45 degree angles by pressing the L and R shoulder buttons while holding down both buttons will bounce the world and pop the locos in the air. Tapping the circle button will produce frightening thunder and lightening, causing a larger loco to split into smaller locos, perhaps to fit through small holes in a wall. Holding that same button down will cause an earthquake that causes them to collect back into a larger blob. Fruit scattered across the stage will also cause the blob size to increase, introducing various gameplay elements and puzzles that call for a heavier blob to trigger instead of a smaller blob.
Clever use of level design is seen with various trampolines and tunnels strewn across the demo stage. In order to get across a ravine, for instance, the blob will have to build up speed and momentum down a slope and launch off a ramp at the end. Also in the demo were other creatures besides the Loco Rocos, such as an animal that can only be described as a poorly designed ant eater which launched us from its trunk high into the air. With the proper use of these, and other clever platform elements, Loco Roco could be quite a handful to tackle.
Graphically, Roco has been described as artistic and stylized. I would go so far as to describe these graphics as downright weird and childish, but they are fitting to the rest of the title. Blobs bounce around with goofy little eyes, while different backgrounds and stages look like they were designed by a cartoonist on acid. A game as fresh as Loco Roco cannot look similar to anything else, or the experience just wouldnt be the same.
Looking, and playing, like nothing else on PSP to date, Loco Roco will attempt to find a special place in the hearts of all gamers with its quirky, addictive, and original gameplay and funky visuals. Having already made its splash in Japan, Loco Roco lands on U.S. store shelves this Sepetember.
CCC Staff Writer