Review by maestro_malone
A cute and enjoyable platformer, with enough substance to last a long time
From mere screenshots, you may assume that Loco Roco is a simple platformer aimed at young children. Well, it is a simple platformer - gameplay doesn't come much simpler than it does in Loco Roco. However, it's not a game aimed at young children by any means. It's a game that all ages can pick up and play, then go on to have a lot of fun with.
The game is set in a 2-D world where the player controls small colourful round characters. The control system is unique yet genius; you never actually move the characters themselves, but adjust the stage, causing the character to move it turn. Holding "L" will tilt the screen 30 degrees to the left and cause the Loco to roll left, whereas holding "R" will have the same effect in the other direction. Very basic, yet it works a treat. Pressing both shoulder buttons simultaneously causes the stage to flick the Loco up into the air - effectively "jumping".
Other than all that, there is only one other command you need to remember. At the start of each stage, your character consists of only one Loco, but as you move through, you will find up to 19 more. Each time one is found, it merges and the characters grows larger in size. The circle button can split a large Loco into small individaul Locos, allowing more narrow areas to be passed through. The same button is used to re-merge the Locos afterwards, for easier movement. Again, straightforward, smooth and satisfying.
The entire challenge of Loco Roco is based around searching and finding items. If you intend to buy the game and just play through the levels without finding any secrets or collecting everything, then there isn't a lot of point in going ahead with it. It's not difficult to reach the end of a level. The only way to fail is to be struck enough times by an enemy. Enemies steal or scatter some of the merged Locos and if the character becomes too small again, it's game over. Yet that is a very rare occurrence. You can beat all the levels in a weekend easily; to pad things out a bit, you'll need to head back through and look for all the things you missed. Without a doubt, there will be a lot more to find.
In each level, there are twenty Locos to collect - the original one and then nineteen more throughout the stage. In addition, the player must find a few hundred of the small pink creatures that are laid out along the path. These can later be spent in mini-games (see below). The other thing to look out for is a Mui-Mui: a small blue creature. There are a few in each level, generally in secret locations that are astray from the main path and sometimes very difficult to come across. This is enough to keep any gamer busy for a long time.
As mentioned, there are a few mini-games, which aren't great, but not bad for trying to kill short periods of time. Throughout the game, the player earns "house parts", which can then be used in the Loco House. These include the types of platforms and obstacles that are found in the main game, available for the player to place inside the house and then watch Loco play on. Not terribly enthralling, but not bad. Same goes for the rest of the extras. There is a grabber mini-game, a more skill-based mini-game and then an expansive level editor, where the player can create their own levels. Nice idea, but it isn't terribly easy to put together anything good.
The action is accompanied by a variety of tunes that fit the game perfectly. Each is rather cute and jolly, which helps to create a fun-based atmosphere for the player and prove that this is a light-hearted game, developed for the purpose of enjoyment. It isn't intended to frustrate the player or make them tear their hair out. In addition, each of the six characters can be differentiated not only by colour, but by a trademark song. There are points in each level where, providing the player has found a sufficient number of Loco, a song is sung in order to progress or unlock a secret. This may appear too silly to some gamers, but it helps to spice up the decision of which character to choose and may also be considered "cute" by a certain audience.
Overall, it's a great game, but difficult to give it more than 8/10, considering the type of game it is. It has its charms in abundance and as modern 2-D platformers go, this is the best you're going to find. Not the best of titles for pick-up-and-play but with patience, it's a very deep and rewarding game. You may wonder if it's really a suitable game for PSP, but I can assure you that it is. The game just looks beautiful on the PSP's screen and it's probably not the type of thing you'd want to be playing on a home console.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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