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LocoRoco 2

 

LocoRoco 2

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PSP
Category: Adventure, Platformer
 
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Developer: SCE Japan
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Features

1 Player
4 Player Multiplayer
WiFi compatible (Ad Hoc)
Memory stick duo 160 KB

Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP) has long had trouble maintaining a steady flow of compelling and original titles, but the problem has seemed to have worsened over the past several months since a short-lived software renaissance early last year. With all the consoles, and the commanding presence of Nintendos DS, the poor PSP has begun to get lost in the shuffle. Thankfully games like LocoRoco 2 are here to address some of these concerns, delivering a sequel to one of the PSP's most unique and unforgettable experiences. The good folks at SCE Japan have once again handled the devlopers chair, with Sony Copmputer Entertainment being the publisher. If its predecessor is any indication the sequel should be a treat for gamers everywhere.

Graphics

LocoRoco 2’s beauty really took me by surprise. The bountiful color palette really compliments the very simplistic and soothing gameplay. The game has really improved from the original giving the game a lot more diversity in the levels and a polish that we didn’t see in the first one. It is nice to see a game that does not need a huge polygon count to look so good. The graphic engine’s design and innovation from top to bottom works beautifully. Unfortunately I did find the odd graphical hiccup in places. One of the most notorious and annoying problems was some slight clipping, most notably in tight spots. While it is only a minor gripe, it can be seen at least once on each level. One other issue is the PSP’s smaller screen. While the screen is bright, somewhat large for a portable device, and the TFT monitor is always full of life and colour, I did find it to be a bit small at times and as a result I had to strain a few times to accomplish my objective. I found myself adjusting the PSP on many occasions for my line of sight to improve. Other than these two problems the game ran smoothly with no notable anomalies and a rather consistent framerate. In the end I am certain that most gamers will be drawn into the games cute and colorful look.

Sound

Sound wise LocoRoco 2 is fantastic and quite easy to listen to. The game is filled with catchy and addictive music that you will find extremely hard to get out of your head. I found almost everything within the game revolves around the music, and each stage has different music that you will most likely hum days. The music also plays an important part in the game’s overall gameplay. For example, the music adjusts to elements onscreen so if a Moja shows up, their theme song immediately kicks in. Furthermore, if you wind up playing a music mini-game it instantly kicks in based on the specific LocoRoco that you have been using. I found that I was sticking to one specific Roco, but if decide to use others you will find that each one has their own musical trappings. Of course as is the case with all PSP titles I must recommend you utilize the headphone feature. The headphones add all the sonic elements that get left behind on the PSP’s tiny external speakers and the difference is astounding.

Gameplay

Loco Roco 2 takes the old adage “if ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach. The formula that worked so well in 2006’s game is back while adding a few new features expanding upon the rich groundwork created in the first interesting outing. LocoRoco 2 includes new abilities, new levels, and more interesting design elements along with all of the original’s charm and personality. Unfortunately for North America we are getting LocoRoco 2 a little later than the rest of the world as it was already released in 2008 back in Japan, Australia and Europe.

The LocoRoco saga returns to star the little yellow blob, Loco, who is fighting the ongoing war with the Moja infection. The Moja were handily defeated in the original LocoRoco, now they have returned seeking revenge on the peaceful Loco planet. Accompanied by Bonmucho, the Moja’s leader, the Moja start to spread their illness across the land with the help of the wicked Bui Bui. The Bui Bui are basically the evil version of the Mui Mui who are Loco’s little Blue friends. The little LocoRoco’s have an upward battle for this jelly-bouncing blob, but it is nothing the little fellah can’t handle with a little tilt action. Once again it sounds complicated and crowded, but the game unfolds in pretty orderly and easy to follow manner.

As with its predecessor the LocoRoco can expand and split up as normal to take the shape of the world, helping the native Loco traverse through the difficult landscapes the Moja have infected. By using the shoulder buttons you can utilize the tilting nature of the gameplay. The tilting concept works wonders to solve any gameplay issues, but it’s also easy and quite fun to use. It is amazing to play through some of the levels because they are so simple, and yet intricate in design. Sony's Japanese development team has certainly done its homework on how to manipulate the tiny PSP; it’s kind of like melting cheese into the cracks.

LocoRoco’s newest venture also introduces a number of new levels along with a number of familiar locations. As I began playing I had to remark to myself at how each level is cleverly crafted into its own network of cross sections and platforming levels. Its’ simplicity combines a labyrinth of complexity and gaming bliss all in one. From the bowels of a giant penguin to facing off against a massive Moja, LocoRoco 2’s imaginative gameplay is unlike other fantasy puzzle games I have ever played. Hidden areas are still a big part of the game and with the new gaming elements it is more fun to search out all the gems hidden within a level.

The main addition to LocoRoco 2 is the ability to swim underwater. It reminded me of the great water levels found in various Super Mario games. The game takes the 2D side scrolling under the water to swim through levels with wonderful results. The control is as close to flawless as you can get without overdoing it which would affect the enjoyment level. Another new addition to LocoRoco 2 is the ability for Loco to jump into different shells to ride around in. This breaks up gameplay boredom and adds a new but challenging twist to the game. I found it tough to utilize the new feature at first but with more play it became almost second nature. My advice to new fans of the game is to invest the time required to get over the hump, it will pay off in the end. It is highly entertaining to play this little blob and it only becomes more fun with the new additions in the LocoRoco 2.

The extras don’t stop there as the game also introduces a number of mini-games that are thrown into the main story mode, along with a new time based rhythm music game. Most of these are simple little games that don’t really feel like a necessary step; however they are fun for a few spins. Each mini-game has to be unlocked during the regular play, so if you looking for something a little different from the side scrolling platforming there is plenty to do. In fact the game has an incredible amount of replay value, offering a healthy temptation to jump back into any level and reach for a higher score, or in my case find all the secrets in a somewhat compulsive nature.


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