Review by Celtic Forest

Reviewed: 10/11/06

Nice and tricky! A fresh breeze in the puzzle world.

So what's up with all these little ball characters? Everywhere I go on any system, I see them popping up all the time. We have Kirby, we have Pac Man, we have several RPG-baddies, and now we will focus on another little ballie simply named "Lolo". It seems these ball-buddies like to resort to either cute platform games, tricky puzzle games or classic Japanese RPG-games. Lolo decides he likes the puzzle games, so that's where we will head now.

Anyway, since I am not the right one to pass judgement on a main character, I will try out the game instead. The Adventures Of Lolo is the first in a trilogy of puzzle games to the NES. Lolo is a game in the line of the "gadget pickers"-genre, meaning, you control the main character in a maze, and try to pick up various tools and icons to get access to new areas and unlock doors and such things. Chip's Challenge and the Pac Man games are very similar to this. The game comes with a background story, but as we all know, a story for a puzzle game is neither necessary nor very creative. Lolo and his girlfriend/sister Lala (which is a pink female ball character) is out for a walk one day. Then comes king Dedede and kidnaps her and takes her to his castle. Lolo quickly races after them, and enters Dedede's castle to rescue his friend. However, he quickly realizes that Dedede's castle is filled with traps and that every room is a puzzle game of its own. Now it's up to you to guide him through all the rooms in the castle.

All levels in the game follows the same basics, but all require a different strategy. You move Lolo around the stage and aim to collect all the heart icons that are spread out. When all icons are taken, a treasure chest will open up, and a button inside of it will be visible. When this button is pressed, the exit door will open, and you can escape to the next room. This is not as simple as it seems, because most stages are littered with evil enemies, deep water pits, big blocks and and one-way paths. Every level puts you up against a new form of challenge, so you need to have a sharp mind in order to proceed. To complete the levels, Lolo can get certain special powers, like firing projectiles that trap enemies in an egg (!), ladders to let him cross rivers, and counter-icons that eliminates the one way-paths.

While the basic concept is nice, it is a bit confusing at first. Many enemies stand still until you collect the last heart icon, then they start to move. You achieve bonuses by collecting a certain amount of heart icons on a specific level, different rules for every room. And finally, some enemies can be blocked by timing, but others will get you directly if they shoot a beam at you. It will probably take some time until you understand the mechanisms, but as soon as you are ahead, you will navigate the mazes without any trouble.

The odd logic aside, Lolo is in fact a very genius and addictive puzzle game. Every level is different, and the game packs a high challenge level without being unfair. Generally, I feel that Lolo has one of the better formulas in the puzzle world, with simple intro levels that drag most players inside, and then advanced but intelligent levels later on that keeps the players interest. On the higher levels, almost every room will appear impossible at first, until you find the simple solution. The stages require good planning, timing, reflexes and a good overview to succeed. Puzzle game fanatics will definitely love this game a whole lot. Like a tasty mixed fruitcake, Lolo brings you elements that challenge all the parts in your brain!

Still, despite the addictive puzzle elements, Lolo isn't equally as stunning in the other departments. The amount of levels have been given out sparingly, and the game only includes around 50 stages, where a normal puzzle game would have at least 100. The graphics and music aren't very well used either. The palette is mostly made out of blue, green and brown colours, and all the rooms look alike. The design is not very creative either. Lolo and his foes are sweet, but most other objects are plain. The music keeps looping over and over again. Of course a great puzzle game doesn't require top-notch graphics and orchestrated music to be successful, but some work in these parts had been appreciated.

The Adventures Of Lolo is a very good puzzle game and an appreciated start of a great series. While its level construction is great, it has some other defects, such as a low level rate, and undeveloped aesthetics. While not falling below a good final score, there is still more room to develop the game. Let's hope that the forthcoming games will include more.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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