“What on earth are you playing?” asked my daughter with a bamboozled tone. Understandable as LocoRoco isn’t really self-explanatory or like any other game she has seen me play. Ever.
One of my favourite games from the PSP lands on the PS4 in 1080p for those of us with a standard PS4 and 4K for those with the Pro console and a suitable TV to match. It was never the most graphically astounding game so the move to full HD doesn’t blow my socks off but it is still full of colour, charm and happy tunes. Just like I remember.
It is fair to say LocoRoco is a bit bonkers and it doesn’t make much more sense on its remastered release. There is a bit of a story to go along with the general madness of it all. Mother Earth is being attacked my some blobs with dreadlocks (well that is how it looks to me) called Mojas. Defeating the Mojas involves collecting LocoRoco which look like space hoppers with smiley faces. I’m sure it made perfect sense to someone. It is one of those games where you cannot help but wonder how someone ever came up with the concept.
You control the LocoRoco by tilting the world – your only control over the LocoRoco is to make them jump. L1 is used to roll the LocoRoco to the left and R1 to roll to the right. It takes a little getting used to and initially you cannot escape the feeling it would be better if you could just use the analogue stick. But with a bit of practice it will all come together and become more fluid even if they can still frustrate at times. You can switch to motion control with a press of the touch pad but I much prefer the buttons.
The aim of each level is to simply get your LocoRoco to the end. It starts out nice and easy but hurdles and enemies are gradually introduced to hinder your progress. As the LocoRoco roll through each stage they will munch on pickories (think berries) and flowers. The LocoRoco increases in size with each flower eaten until it becomes a large squishy blob. Each time the LocoRoco eats a flower it essentially absorbs another LocoRoco. You can separate into the individual LocoRoco at the touch of a button and the same again to merge back into one.
You will need to make use of this separation and merging to progress though the levels as some of the passage ways are too tight for the flabby mass of a fully grown LocoRoco. When the LocoRoco are separated they become more vulnerable. And the more you have to keep an eye on the harder it becomes to keep them all together. If one is separated from the pack for too long then they will be lost. The same goes for when the enemies grab them. That’s not to say a fully grown LocoRoco is any safer. Landing on a spike will separate some individual LocoRoco leaving you with a race against time to absorb them or lose them. A fully grown LocoRoco is also no problem for a Moja as a quick bite is all it takes to separate a LocoRoco or two. Jumping to bash a Mojo is all it takes to get rid of that threat but titling a world to line up the attack adds an extra factor to consider.
There is a good element of exploration to the levels and there is more to them than meets the eye. There are hidden passageways which may require you to break into individual LocoRoco to find. There are also some walls which can be broken to expose a hidden area and there are also excitable bouncing little blue men to find. These little men are called Mui Muis and take quite some finding at times. Many of the flowers required to get to full size are hidden away too. Some parts of the level require a certain size in order to unlock a bonus path or reward so it really does pays to explore. There is plenty of replay value in each level. To 100% complete a stage you need 20 LocoRoco (which means you cannot lose any), 3 Mui Muis to find and many berries to eat. Getting to the end of each level shouldn’t be an issue for most but getting 100% is a different prospect all together. I often reach the end of a level convinced I have searched everywhere but I’m still missing 3 LocoRoco, 1 Mui Mui and 50 pickories.
As the game progresses you are introduced to different LocoRoco which don’t really add anything different other than a different song. Which takes me nicely onto the music. LocoRoco is full of happy little tunes that won’t leave your head for days. The LocoRoco themselves are partial to a singing a little tune. Of course, the lyrics are all gibberish to us but it is hard not to warm to the music. I have the tune in my head right now as I write this and happy little tunes are not normally my sort of thing.
The stages do get more complex and there is a lot more variety in them than you would initially expect. Some stages can be rather tranquil and slow paces whereas some of them are on ice and you can really build up some speed which will be essential to launch the LocoRoco high or far enough to get to a hidden area. You will also have spongy surfaces which affect your ability to roll and some sticky surfaces which allow you to reach areas that would otherwise be impossible.
There is some fun outside of the main game. You can build a LocoRoco house with parts found during the main game. There is also some mini games which use the pickories collected during the main game. I never bothered much with them when I had this game on the PSP and the same goes here; a nice distraction but nothing on the main game.
LocoRoco is definitely not a game that will appeal to all but those willing to give it a try may find themselves caught up in the charm of it all. It is the type of game that is better in short bursts rather than lengthy sessions where repetition could be a factor. It was a great game on the PSP and it is still a very enjoyable game. If only I could get those songs out of my head.