Here with a wiggle, there with a bounce. LocoRoco 2 has you bouncing all over the screen and laughing while you do it. Can the second instalment of this bit of Japanese oddness be as good as the first?
The graphics are simple yet very well realised. As a wiggly blob of substance you’ll be amazed at how realistic the physics are. The environment and gravity seem like very real things when you’re moving around. The graphics remind very much of the vector graphics often found in many flash games. The colours are bold and playful, yet not too bright as to annoy the eyes.
Very often in hand-held games I hate the background music and the sound effects usually get repetitive. For once I’m very happy to say that I absolutely love the sound in this game. Since I use my PSP primarily on the train while I’m commuting, the sound really needs to be turned off or I my suffer the wrath of some highly strung London commuter. I found myself turning off the mp3 player and plugging the headphones into the PSP just so I could listen to the game as I played. The ambient music are songs that have been tailored to match the mood of the level you’re currently in. There aren’t a lot of sound effects, but then little blobs don’t make much more sound than “oof”. Still the sounds are appropriate and fun. Just listening to this game will make anyone smile.
The story is a little hard to follow as there are no real words spoken in the game and everything is in the short cut scenes that will play between the levels. The general idea isn’t hard to follow though. The Big Bad is polluting the land and just generally being a pain in the behind. So your job is obvious, clean up the mess and defeat the Big Bad and all the little minions that get in your way. It’s no complex epic, but it doesn’t need to be. Sometimes simple suffices and the gameplay certainly makes up for any shortcomings that you may find in the story aspect.
If you played the first LocoRoco then you’ll already be familiar with how the game works. For those not in the know, it’s really the simplest system I’ve ever used. You use the shoulder buttons to tilt the screen to direct your LocoRoco and bounce him or her along through the level. There are a couple of buttons that are used for things like sinking down into the water.
There are a couple of new additions in this instalment though. I may have already given away one of them; your LocoRoco can now swim. Swimming obviously brings in a while new type of level where gravity doesn’t quite have the same bearing on how you move. The second is that there are now several LocoRocos for you to choose from, seven in fact. They come in a variety of colours and have personalities as different as their colours. Gameplay-wise I haven’t noticed any advantages of one over another, but sometimes you just feel the need to be a pink LocoRoco.
The game levels range from the very hard to the very easy, but are always a challenge. Even the easiest level will have something hidden for you to find that may take some cunning and quick fingers. Other challenges can be found in the boss fights. I found that having agile fingers really was an asset in taking the boss fights on. For once I didn’t get frustrated though and enjoyed giving it a go more than once if needed to take on a part of the level or the boss, it’s just that fun.
When you get tired of bouncing through the levels you can always play one of the several mini-games that you’ll automatically unlock along the way. Of these, my favourite is most definitely the Mui Mui house where you use the collected items from the levels to build your little Mui Mui’s a lovely place to live. Coincidently you also collect the Mui Muis as you go along through the levels too, although you do start out with a few. The pieces you gather in the game are used in the building of the MuiMui house also.