Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


LocoRoco 2 (PSP)

Taking players back to the surreal, humorous planet of the round singing protagonists, LocoRoco 2 for PSP is another appealing adventure that brings action, strategy and puzzle elements together in an accessible package. It's simple play controls are perfectly suited to the PSP, with a few simple commands allowing you to tilt, roll and jump around the levels easily. New features such as mini-games, co-operative online play along with additional enemies, clever level design and additional abilities add to the fun. However, the sequel is faithful to its inspiration with brightly-colored graphics and 2D gameplay mechanics that give LocoRoco 2 a breezy feel that makes for instantly accessible fun.

You can't really miss the immediate appeal of LocoRoco 2. Following the formula that made the first game so successful, the new game feels like a continuation of the first title. This time around, the evil Moja have returned to the peaceful world of the LocoRoco to spread their darkness around with their new weapon, an evil song. As you control the Locos, your mission is to counter them in your ways by exploring the various levels, beating any Moja you come across and singing songs that help bring the light back to your world. To help you along, the LocoRoco will encounter their old friends like the MuiMui, who will guide them through each level and give them advice. You control the LocoRoco in a very simple manner. Pressing the Left or Right shift buttons tilts the screen and your characters roll in that direction. You can make them jump by pressing both shift buttons at the same time. This is fairly simple and it's loads of fun to watch them roll through these large areas. There are many ramps and gaps, tunnels to glide through and loads of secret areas. In certain sections, the Locos need to split up in order to pass through narrow sections, and this can be done by pressing down on the square button. However, this makes them vulnerable to attack from the Moja, so you have to bring them back together in order to roll with more security. Each level has a number of hidden areas, which can usually be discovered by standing at these sections and waiting for the Loco to do something. These usually make them pop up in a different section of the screen and can help you progress to other sections of the level.

As you roll around each level, you'll collect various objects such as fruits and other items that can add to your score or give you additional abilities. Collecting as many of these as possible helps you along in your journey. The levels themselves can be quite challenging at points, and there's a few sections where you might have to try a few times to pass through obstacles. This can make things occasionally oblique and frustrating, but LocoRoco 2 is generally a breezy experience that flows like balloons on the wind, making it an enjoyable and mostly relaxing game. During the LocoRocos' journey, you'll also encounter include items that you can collect and place in the MuiMui house at the main screen. Items can be used to furnish the little creatures' home and when combined, can also give you access to a number of mini-games as well. There are five unique mini-games and these add plenty of replay value to the gameplay and include racing, shooting and collecting titles. In addition to the single player mode, LocoRoco 2 also includes some interesting multiplayer modes that allow you to use either local or internet friends to go through the levels co-operatively or challenge each other in the mini-games. Like the first game, LocoRoco's simple 2D graphical style is almost instantly appealing with a child-like cut and paste look that has large, brightly colored shapes and objects. The Locos themselves move really smoothly through the levels and flow like water through the tunnels. This is a really cool effect and shows a remarkably fun look throughout. LocoRoco's appealing cast of expressive and humorous characters is made all the more charming thanks to their constant singing, which gives the game a consistently upbeat and entertaining mood. It looks and feels very much like the first LocoRoco, and it does an excellent job with its overall design. It's perfectly suited in style to the PSP handheld in terms of presentation and style, which makes it all the more enjoyable to play. The production values are very good, with the visuals and songs working together to create a fun and entertaining world to explore and enjoy. Everything about the design, from its colorful worlds, humorous characters and simple play controls makes this an enjoyable and accessible title that should appeal to kids of all ages, as they say. .

On the other hand, it's probably much too easy for a cynical player to complain that LocoRoco 2 doesn't really go far enough. You can almost hear some players complaining that the new abilities in LocoRoco 2 are minor and only create an incremental change from the first title. However, this misses the point. There's loads of things here to discover. Among these are the new obstacles and levels, which are generally more challenging and creative than the first game. Additiionally, the ability to collect musical notes gives you a stronger motivation to keep playing, since they can unlock new things as well. LocoRoco 2 also offers more difficult environments with the new foes in the form of the dark Moja making your path harder to traverse. They also effectively add some tension to the experience without overwhelming the generally happy vibe that radiates from the design. While these changes do seem minor in the big picture, when the original game was so instantly appealing and enjoyable, major changes in the formula aren't necessary. The main levels are fun in themselves, but the added challenge of collecting objects to put in your MuiMui house adds a level of interaction to LocoRoco 2 that makes it feel both modern and fun. This sequel is probably going to appeal mostly to those who loved the original game but those new to the series will find plenty to enjoy as well. LocoRoco 2 succeeds because it's both simple to play in small doses while offering plenty of challenge for longer sessions. Aesthetically, it's a cool looking title with funny characters, child-like level design, interesting layouts, abundant hidden secrets and cool new abilities to keep things fresh. It's a fairly good sequel that delivers a unique and entertaining experience. Like the first game, LocoRoco 2 is definitely one of the PSP's hidden gems and something that's definitely worth checking out.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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