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LocoRoco Review

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Developer: SCE Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: September 5, 2006 Also On: None

As gaming has become more of a Hollywood-like industry, a business structure hell bent on efficient spending, cutting costs and maximizing revenue has emerged. Original game concepts have suffered considerably as a result. Take a company like Electronic Arts or Take-Two. Both companies have conservative business models, putting the tried and true ahead of original any day of the week. With franchises like Madden, Grand Theft Auto and Medal of Honor, there is little reason to try something new. This business mentality is the core of the PlayStation Portable’s strategy. Without any AAA title though, it hasn’t worked too well for Sony, EA or Take-Two on PSP.

With the release of Sony’s LocoRoco, hope still remains for the multimedia gaming device. While the PSP has focused almost exclusively on proven franchises and console ports, the level of absurdity in game ideas seems to have risen since the release of Nintendo DS. As a result of Sony’s flawed approach with PSP, Nintendo has thrashed them in the handheld race. Wisely, Sony is beginning to respond with a string of high profile releases meant to show support for their fledgling handheld. LocoRoco is just the first of them, and I can thankfully say that it’s a pleasant surprise.

LocoRoco is probably the biggest “wtf” game of 2006. Not just for how zany the gameplay is, but also for how long it came for a game like this to get released on the PSP. You play as the LocoRoco, a blob-like creature whose planet is being invaded by evil space creatures. Your goal is to roll, bounce and maneuver the LocoRoco to safety. While you’re doing this, you have the opportunity to collect different items that will help you collect parts for your LocoHouse.

Think of LocoRoco as a platformer on acid. The environments are often colorful and themed after something. Some are spooky, while another one appears to be the insides of an organism. It’s all light-hearted fun, but what do you expect from a game as trippy as this? Complementing the environments is theme music that fits into place quite well. The LocoRoco each have their own voices as well, and will sing songs at different parts of the level.

While it is almost impossible to give you an idea of how LocoRoco plays, just imagine in your head a blob rolling through environments, controlled by the L and R buttons on your PSP. Your LocoRoco will follow the outline of the level, sliding along steep inclines. Simply adjusting the camera orientation with L and R will roll your LocoRoco in that direction. You can jump onto platforms pressing both buttons. Your LocoRoco will conform to the shape of his environment, such as bending over ledges.

Since the only way you can “die” is from an attack by one of the evil creatures, you will need to expand your LocoRoco blob to defend itself. All you have to do is smack these creatures with a powerful jump to knock them out. Larger ones will take multiple shots. Your LocoRoco grows to a maximum size of 20 LocoRoco blobs by eating fruit throughout the level. Collectively, you can form a huge blob or disassemble into smaller LocoRoco to pass through small paths. While beating each level is fairly straightforward and easy, collecting everything is an impressive challenge.

It’s really amazing how creative Sony got with LocoRoco. I never expected such a quirky game to get released on the PSP, let alone one developed from Sony. A year and a half after the PSP’s North American release, there is finally a reason to own the system. Without a doubt LocoRoco is the best PlayStation Portable game and possibly the best handheld game in general so far this year. Look for LocoRoco to be a serious contender for PSP Game of the Year when we announce our awards later in 2006.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 9.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide