It’s nice to take a break from machine guns, zombies, and pummeling people into a bloody pulp. I usually gravitate to M-rated fare but one can take only so much violence and destruction. It was then that I discovered the joys of playing with multicolored gobs of goo.
In a video game, that is. I missed the first Loco Roco, but Loco Roco 2, with its simple gameplay mechanics and quirky humor, reminded me that once upon a time I really got a kick out of cartoony 2D platformers.
Loco Rocos, who look like the cousins of Dragon Quest’s Slimes, are living blobs of gelatin who inhabit a strange and colorful planet, content to live peaceful lives doing…whatever it is they do. Of course it wouldn’t be a game without conflict. The baddies from the original game, the Moja Troop, return to pollute the planet. It’s up to you and your Loco Rocos to stop these marauders from outer space, who no doubt throw aluminum cans in the trash and drive Hummers.
My first impression of the game’s unique graphics immediately brought to mind cartoons aimed at preschoolers, but charming enough to appeal to adults. Whimsical and imaginative, only the most bitter of cynics won’t enjoy them. (Who’d enjoy the visuals the most? Stoners. Definitely stoners.) And being a 2D game, the animation in Loco Roco 2 is as smooth as it can be. The music is infectious and the Loco Rocos speak and sing with some kind of gibberish that just fits the overall tone of the game perfectly.
The simple yet elegant control scheme remains unchanged. The player tilts the game’s world using the PSP’s shoulder buttons, which causes the little blobs to slide around in the appropriate direction. Pressing both shoulder buttons at once is essentially a jump function. Tapping the O button causes bolts of lightning to strike, splitting your Loco Rocos into smaller blobs (if you’ve collected enough fruit) so that they can fit into narrow spaces. That’s the simple part. The elegance comes from the game’s level design. From a lush tropical rainforest, to the tops of pillow-like clouds, to inside a giant penguin’s gullet, maneuvering the Loco Rocos around these crazy levels is engaging and fun. They’re filled with weird and wonderful creatures both friendly and hostile. Thankfully the stages end just before the first signs of monotony set in, and that’s key for a handheld. The main gameplay is broken up by boss fights and a few minigames of mixed quality.
The PSP needs more games like this and less ports of more complex fare found on the consoles. With its simple controls, original level design, and brevity of each stage, Loco Roco 2 is a prime example of what a little originality and a lot of imagination can bring to game design. It also makes me wonder how the creator of this game came up with this stuff. Play this game and you’ll see why.
- Whimsical graphics
- Simple gameplay
- Just so darn cheerful
- Some minigames are boring
Final Verdict: Enshrine It