LocoRoco has some terrific ideas, but some flaws (a short campaign, a forgiving difficulty and boring extras) prevent the creative PSP game from tilting my world.
Here’s the pitch for a new game: it takes place in a distant planet where an exotic species of bouncy yellow balls known as LocoRoco live. But one day, a group of alien creatures called Koja Korps come down from space and take over the colorful planet. Since LocoRoco are a peaceful species, they don’t know how to deal with the invaders, so you must help them recover their planet so that the can lead peacefully again. If that’s your idea, tough luck because that game exists and is called LocoRoco.
To make the LocoRoco move, you need to tilt the ground using the shoulder buttons. This might sound simple enough, but little by little, more advanced mechanics come into play, so eventually, you’ll be able to jump, bounce, avoid enemies or hazards, split up and combine, break walls, guide your troops to hidden rooms and so on. As you explore more environments, you’ll find special items, including berries (they make LocoRoco bigger,) Mui Mui (hidden friends of LocoRoco that unlock items,) Chuppa (they launch your LocoRoco into the air) and Moja Corps (your enemies and more.) Additionally, there are different LocoRoco and they can adopt different shapes.
Most levels are bite-sized and simple enough which means that you can finish them in a few minutes, but while you can complete levels quickly, part of the fun involves replaying them to find all the LocoRoco, hidden friends and to obtain the highest score possible. Luckily, the game never forces you to play in any specific way, so you can take the quickest route or you can take as much time as you can to explore.
In general, levels are really inventive which is great since the only thing you’re doing in most of them is tilting your environments to move, jump, attack your enemies or split and combine your LocoRoco. So it’s great to see there are many hidden items, windy tunnels that propel into the sky, turning wheels that transport you other places and so on. Nevertheless, the levels don’t pose much of a challenge (that is, unless you want to unlock and find every single item or high score) since you pretty much need to tilt the environments to reach your goal and that’s it. Also, you can finish the game in a couple of hours and apart from getting high scores and unlockable items, there’s not much incentive to keep playing.
There are several extra features, but none of them will keep you interested for long. In the Loco House, for instance, you can create a house using all the parts you’ve found throughout the campaign. I found this feature vapid and boring, since the only thing you’re doing is placing stickers in a canvas that has the shape of a house. There are also several mini-games you unlock using the bugs you collected in the different levels. The first mini-game, is a UFO catcher where you obtain different parts for your Loco House and some parts are more difficult to come by than others, but there’s absolutely no draw to keep playing. In the end, most mini-games are simplistic and pointless.
The soundtrack deserves a mention, since this is one of the things that keep you hooked to the game. You’ll be humming some of the songs long after turning off your PSP and that’s something that can’t be said about most games. It’s really hard to describe the music, since they don’t have traditional words (in fact, it seems like the game has a language on its own and that’s definitely part of its charm,) but rest assured most songs are adorable and catchy.
LocoRoco has some terrific ideas, but some flaws prevent it from tilting my world. The colorful world, charming soundtrack and unique premise that encourages you to tilt the environments to make progress make it stand out among its peers, but its short campaign, boring extra content and anemic difficulty hurt an otherwise adorable experience.