Review: LocoRoco 2

LocoRoco2.jpg Does the current economic climate have you down in the dumps? Are you feeling blue because there have been virtually no good PSP games to play over the past six months (at least)? Well pep up, because today LocoRoco 2 is here to ease these woes. This portable bundle of joy costs a mere $20 and arrives at the perfect time to get that dusty PSP of yours out of seclusion and back humming away into the wee hours night after night.

LocoRoco 2 is almost impossible to wholly describe, as there isn’t any other game like it (other than the first game of course). It’s a 2D platformer at heart, but from within that platforming shell it branches out with puzzle, shooter, and rhythm elements, and many times takes on almost a pinball quality as your ball(s) of goo rolls and pings around some of the most creative level designs you’ll ever see in a game. Seriously, this game’s stages are like Rube Goldberg machines…tripped out on acid!

The gist of the game is simple really. You play as the LocoRoco, a cheery race of colored blobs constantly under siege by the dreaded Moja (evil beings that look like flying dreadlocks) and their soul-sucking music. To rid the Moja from LocoRoco planet, you bounce through a series of side-scrolling 2D environments using the same unique control scheme innovated by the first LocoRoco. Almost the entire game is controlled with the L and R shoulder buttons. Using the shoulders, you simply tilt the game world left and right to guide your LocoRoco in the desired direction, and by pressing both you’re able to give the cute bubbles of happiness a little bump to help hop them over obstacles and jump up platforms. The only other button you’ll need to use is the Circle button. This is used to split your LocoRoco into individual balls, bring them together into one large ball and sink underwater.

From this basic concept, LocoRoco 2 evolves stage after stage, continuously introducing new gameplay wrinkles and incorporating elements from a wide range of genres (as stated earlier). The variety is unmatched and the pacing is pitch-perfect. Every level looks, sounds and feels distinct, too. One stage you’ll be floating through a whimsical garden hanging onto a petal of flower fluff; the next you’ll be swinging from vines and animal tails through the jungle; the next you’ll be diving under the sea searching for treasures in a sunken pirate ship; and then the next you’ll be rolling around in the squishy innards of a giant penguin’s digestive system. And the game’s catchy, upbeat music and vibrantly-colored, almost Flash-style visuals bring all of these exotic environments to life with a saccharine-sweet charm that will simply melt your heart away.

LocoRoco 2 is a collect-a-holic’s dream as well. There are more goodies to collect and unlock than I can even list here. Plowing through the storyline only takes around six hours – more or less depending on how long you spend searching for hidden areas in each level – and while that is short on its own, the game really is infinitely replayable. The game is just so much fun that you’ll be compelled to replay levels again and again to find every last collectible, and then there are all sorts of mini-games and side activities to tinker with. Collected items can be used to build upon a MuiMui house, and by doing so you’ll gradually unlock cool bonus features like a music player and screenshot-capture camera. You can also collect stamps and stamp sheets to fill in, which is actually much more fun than it may sound. The mini-games are fun diversions too, my favorite being a MuiMui plane side-scrolling shmup. There’s even multiplayer this time around, but it’s the only part of the game that is entirely forgettable. It’s as if Sony just tacked it on so they could add another bullet point to the back of the box.

The joys of LocoRoco 2 are truly endless and infectious. It’s impossible to play (or even watch someone else play) this game without bopping your head, tapping your feet, humming along to the soundtrack and grinning from ear to ear. The PSP has been in dire need of a new killer-app since God of War: Chains of Olympus and Crisis Core came out last March. Well it took nearly a year, but at long last that elusive next PSP killer-app has arrived!

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Pros:
+ Brilliant level designs
+ World-tilting gameplay still feels fresh and innovative
+ So much variety in such a tiny package
+ More collectibles and side activities than you can shake a stick at
+ Infectiously catchy music
+ Charming graphics and story

Cons:
- Multiplayer mode seems kinda tacked on

Game Info:
Platform: PSP
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEJ
Release Date: 2/10/09
Genre: Action/Platform
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1-4

About the Author

Matt Litten is a 28 year old from-the-womb gamer turned video game reviewer/blogger and current editor/owner/operator of VGBlogger.com. Matt got his first taste of gaming as a youngster on the NES and Atari, and the rest is history from there. In 2004, three years removed from high school and still looking for a career direction in life, Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com, and after a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez Matt turned his attention to VGBlogger, and to this day is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary.