LocoRoco really is a difficult title to describe. The game is an addictive 2D sidescrolling musical platform game that reminds us of Katamari Damacy and Yoshi's Universal Gravitation. The PSP isn't really known for original games, it's been a long time since Lumines but finally another original PSP game has arrived in LocoRoco.
The simplicity of LocoRoco is where the appeal of the lies. Players initially take control of a tiny yellow blob called a LocoRoco (who would have guessed?). Rather than move the LocoRoco you actually use the L and R buttons on the PSP to dictate the direction that the blog moves in. If you press L and R together then your LocoRoco will jump and if you press circle quickly then your blob will dessemble (which lets you fight into tight spaces). It's possible to join your LocoRocos again by holding circle for longer. At the very beginning of a level your LocoRoco is actually rather tiny. There are red flowers scattered throughout the level and as you "eat" more of these flowers you grow in size. The overall objective is to get to end of the level and eat as many red flowers as possible. There are twenty in each level.
It isn't as simple as tilting your way through the world however, the world isn't free of enemies and there are many obstacles, a lot of dangers and enemies that will try and "eat" part of your LocoRoco and make it smaller. Some of the dangers are environmental hazards like spikes and some of them are moving enemies like spiders. If you do manage to lose part of your LocoRocos then you have a few seconds to save them if you're quick enough. It all starts off pretty easily, but just navigating through the level isn't all the game has to offer.
All of the levels are littered with a heap of other objects to collect. Most important of all is the MuiMui pals. There are three MuiMui pals hidden in each of the levels and the objective is to rescue them all. There are also little pink buds (we're not entirely sure what they are and the game is never clear on this) scattered throughout the levels. There are about one hundred to four hundred of these buds in each of the levels. To actually get all of these buds is a mammoth task, because chances are you'll miss at least one. At different points in the level if you've rescued enough LocoRocos then they will perform a song with an object in the level as well.
Fortunately, there is enough variation in the levels to stop the game from becoming repetitive. The environments are all uniquely different to each other and there are new enemies and environmental hazards to get used too. Occasionally you become more of a spectator during the game as sometimes you'll get caught up in parts of the level that just do everything for you. There are different coloured LocoRocos are unlocked throughout the single player campaign as well, but they don't really make much of a difference; they're just a different colour. It is possible to change back to any of the colours at any time in level select screen.
The single player campaign, which is divided up into four worlds with a total of forty levels doesn't take long at all to complete. LocoRoco is never really a challenge and it's possible to breeze through the single player campaign in about three to four hours. There are a few hidden extras included and you can unlock a bit during the single player adventure but none of the unlockables are really appealing. Throughout the single player campaign you can unlock bonuses to store in your LocoRoco house and you can send this over to your friend's PSP wirelessly. There are also three mini games which aren't nearly as appealing as you would hope. The first mini game is MuiMui crane and it's a bit like those skilltesters at your local arcade, where you have to pick up the LocoRocos to earn items for your house. The mini games aren't free though and you need to exchange some of the pink buds that you've collected during the single player campaign. The other two mini games aren't that exciting either but at least there is something, it just would have been better if there was more.
The visual look of LocoRoco is simply amazing. The unique look of the game simply needs to be experienced and this is the most uniquely different looking title on the PSP yet. The bright colours could be a turn off for some people but everything in the LocoRoco universe has its own distinctive look, even the black spiders which have a cartoony look feel very threatening. The audio is also a massive highlight and as you progress through the game you unlock even more music. In fact, the main incentive to go through the entire game is to unlock all of the audio. In game your LocoRocos will sing to the music and make noises when they're scared.
The major downfall with LocoRoco really is the lifespan. It's disappointing that the game never really becomes challenging and we were never really in any intense situations throughout the single player mode, you've really got to be trying pretty hard to fail in a level. There is plenty of stuff to collect in the game but unless you're a little obsessive compulsive you're hardly going to be playing the levels hoping to collect all the pink buds. Unfortunately the hidden extras aren't nearly as worthwhile as they could have been.
We're hoping that LocoRoco is the first of many innovative titles for the PSP, particularly from Sony, who seems to be dragging their heels with support for their own handheld. The game proves that the PSP is more than competent enough to handle "pick up and play" titles, which is really the type of games that people want on handhelds. It's an addictive game and i don't think i've ever smiled more whilst playing a game than I did with LocoRoco. It's insanely addictive, and has a unique look that is unmatched on the PSP.