Wednesday, October 04, 2006

VG REVIEW: Loco Roco

Your ability to enjoy “LocoRoco” is almost entirely dependent upon your tolerance for an abundance of cuteness.

Because while “LocoRoco” is a clever, inventive, colorful and quite fun game, it is also very, very cute. Almost terminally so, at least as far as some gamers might be concerned.

The structure of the game is simplicity itself. Your job is to get a happy round blob — the “LocoRoco” of the title — from one end of a lengthy two-dimensional maze to another.

Along the way, you’ll find little flowers and other objects you can chomp on to grow bigger. Getting larger also allows you subdivide your LocoRoco into smaller blobs, which is handy for getting through tight spaces.

Moving your little blob around this candy-colored environment is one of the more ingenious aspects of the game in that you don’t move the creature so much as the world around him. Clicking on the PSP’s upper right trigger tilts the landscape to the right. Clicking on the left trigger tilts it left. Holding both and then letting go lets the LocoRoco jump over obstacles.

And apart from splitting and regrouping your blob by pressing the circle button, that’s about it for controls, giving the game a user-friendly feel that will appeal to kids as well as adults.

That appeal extends to its highly simplified, picture-book art style, where any shape more complex than say, a hexagon, isn’t permitted.

There are lots of hidden items and areas in “LocoRoco,” adding a good deal of replay value. Little buddies known as Mui Mui are squirreled away in tiny corners, and discovering them can unlock minigames, items to decorate a LocoRoco house with, music and more.

I haven’t mentioned the sound track yet, which might be one of the best parts of the game. It is filled with impossibly catchy nonsense songs; these tunes will get stuck in your head quicker than any tune currently on the pop charts.

The high level of whimsy will no doubt put off a number of gamers too insecure about their own maturity to be seen playing such an obvious “kiddie game.” Too bad for them, as “LocoRoco” is easily one of the best titles of the year.

Ever since PlayStation Portable came out, it’s suffered from a dearth of essential software. “LocoRoco” is the first game that justifies purchase of the system.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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