Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


LocoRoco (Sony for PSP)

By Michael Palisano

LocoRoco is a unique puzzle/action hybrid that lets players control a cool orange blob as they try and navigate through a series of surreal levels. The gameplay is straightforward, and the simple tilt and roll play mechanics are quite easy to understand, making the game instantly accessible yet challenging and engaging. LocoRoco's brightly colored visuals and liquid animation jump right off the screen and are complimented by light-hearted music tracks that give things a unique personality that's evident right from the start. While it might seem simple on the surface, LocoRoco isn't as superficial or easy as it seems. This is an interesting and challenging title that offers an addictive, challenging experience unlike any other on the PSP

While many PSP titles to date have emphasized the console's processing power and graphical prowess, there haven't been any really good puzzle titles until now. LocoRoco looks to change these perceptions of the system, and its simple and yes cute game design is guaranteed to win over the hearts and thumbs of gamers everywhere. Like many great games, the concept is simple, the execution is excellent and the gameplay is deceptively addictive. LocoRoco's presentation makes things easy to understand. The streamlined controls are the first element that should get your attention. Most of the action is controlled using the Left and right shift buttons. Holding down either one of these causes the level to tilt, and the LocoRoco to pour or move in that direction. When you hold both of these shift buttons together, they'll cause any onscreen characters to jump in the air. These simple controls allow you to concentrate on the action without having to fuss with the various keys. LocoRoco's simple interface makes it a joy to play and allows you to concentrate on the action unencumbered. The gameplay itself is deceptively simple but requires some practice to get into the right feeling. One of the key strategies in LocoRoco is to beat all the stages safely while getting the Locos through as quickly as possible. Your main objective in LocoRoco is to guide the little circular heroes through the level, avoiding objects and collecting as many items as possible. As you eat the different fruits in the level, your Loco grows larger and larger, until it takes up a large portion of the screen. Along the way, you'll face a number of obstacles and paths with will hinder your progress. Your objective is getting through these barriers as quickly as possible, trying not to lose any of your Locos along the way.

There are some areas where you find the Loco is too large to squeeze through. When you encounter these sections, a quick press on the circle button will break your LocoRoco into smaller parts, which can then slide through easily. Players can also do the reverse as well, and combine their smaller Loco's into one large being as well. Along the way, you'll encounter some of the Loco's friends who can help him by giving him bonus items and powers. In addition, each area of the game has a number of hidden areas which players can find by searching for them. As you play through each level, you'll also find items which can be used to unlock a number of mini-games or collect items for your LocoRoco House. This adds a lot of replay value to the game and makes LocoRoco a lot more challenging. At the end of each stage, you're given a ranking and score based on how well you guided the Loco through the level, which shows you how much you missed, and how many Locos you guided to the end of the stage successfully. You can go and replay the area or move on to the next stage. The game's sheer simplicity and fun makes it a joy to play and should extend its replay value. LocoRoco also includes an extra mode where you can download and play demo levels with friends via Wi-fi, which should allow you to share the fun without having to purchase an entire game.

As you can probably tell from the screenshots, one of the most engaging parts of LocoRoco is its unique visual style. It uses bright, primary colors, extremely simple objects and cool backgrounds to give it an almost child-like look. The animations are quite smooth as well, and the Loco's move like liquid balls through the stages, giving the game a distinctive feel that fits its action and approach perfectly. The spinning and turning stages make for some dizzying excitement that fills the PSP screen with a unique energy and style. The game's presentation is very simple and this makes it very easy to understand the action on screen. There's a great deal of variety in LocoRoco's stages as well, giving the player plenty of different looks to unlock. Enhancing the charming visuals is the musical score, which is just a fun and entertaining as the gameplay. The songs definitely bring the game to life, with their feel of children singing and lighthearted instrumentation. This compliments the action perfectly, making LocoRoco's aesthetics immediately stand out. From an artistic standpoint, this is easily one of the most engaging and entertainingly unique experiences on the PSP to date.

While the game isn't as deep or involving as some other titles, LocoRoco more than compensates through its sheer charm and coolness. Its simple, accessible controls means gamers of every level and stripe should be able to jump right in and enjoy the gameplay without too much effort. Its unique look and level designs are a sight to behold and the simple, yet sophisticated graphics leap right off the PSP screen. The number of bonus levels, secret areas and extras should add to the game's longevity without becoming monotonous or tedious. While it might seem like it's aimed at the younger gamer set, don't be fooled - there's plenty of challenge to be had in this title. It's not as simple as it looks, but it's quite enjoyable to play and look at. LocoRoco is one of the more unique and enjoyable games on the PSP and one that should be played and enjoyed by gamers everywhere.

Grade: A-

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