Loco Roco PSP Review

This one has been a long time coming. A traditional handheld game? From Sony? Loco Roco contains bright colors, charming characters, that pick up and play factor that so many PSP releases have been lacking. You're into the game in just a couple of button presses, without any need for even taking a glance at the instruction manual.

The story behind the game is that your little world has been overrun by the Moja corps, a band of floating, inky black meanies, intent on making a feast of you and your friends, and its your job to vanquish them. You start off as just a single blob, (I've taken to calling them 'Rocos'). Your task is to traverse through the stages eating tasty looking red fruits as you go, each one eaten making you grow in size. There's also loads of little flies to eat, the games equivalent to coins or rings it seems. Each level also has three little hidden guys to find, the MuiMuis! They're always really, really happy that you've found them, so very happy, that they give you gifts!

The controls are really quite simple - you move by pressing your L and R buttons ( hence the name, LocoRoco), pressing both the L and R buttons at the same time make the little guy jump and pressing circle separates your Roco into little blobs, the number of which determined by how many fruits you've eaten. You need to do this to get through tight gaps. Holding the circle button makes them all bounce back and merge into one.

LocoRoco looks great, with a simple, cartoony art style, resembling some kind of happy Japanese website flash animation. There are lovely green grassy stages, slippery ice stages, stages that are set within the innards of large beasties, complete with dangling tonsils to aggravate and bony structures to slide down. The levels have all kinds of obstacles for you to encounter, involving switches to hit, moving platforms to balance upon, even giant hands that grab you and throw you around! The detail in the stages isn't overdone yet there's almost always something going on onscreen, like if you leave your Roco alone for a second or two he'll start to bounce around. If they're split up into blobs they then fool around, bashing into one another or trying to form pyramids. It's all very cute, and you can just sit there watching them for ages. There is quite a variety of beasties inhabiting the stages but aside from the hungry little Moja, you really don't encounter them that often, some you'll only come across once or twice in the whole game. So I'll leave the surprise of coming across them to yourselves.

Every 8 or so stages you meet another color Roco and start to play as it. There is no effect made upon the game play at all by the different Rocos, it's simply a way to add variety. Each Roco has a different singing style - they will usually sing the same songs but it's nice to hear them done differently. All of the music brings a smile to my face, though.

There aren't that many games that have actually made me really feel for the characters, this is one of those few. The Rocos show emotion in their little faces and in the words they say, from happiness to fear. You share the emotion with them, having a face full of glee while jumping around on springy pads, or getting genuinely upset when you allow a Roco to be gobbled up by one of the Moja.

You can and possibly will plow through the game very quickly, unfortunately. In other games you may play through a level, get killed and get sent back to the start or restart point, making playing through some levels a real challenge. In LocoRoco you rarely ever actually die, reducing the challenge of the game somewhat. What Sony has done is add a few factors to encourage repeat play. There are a variety of items to collect and naturally the goal will be to get perfect scores in each category for every level, the amount of Rocos, the time taken, your score, MuiMui's rescued and secrets found. What are the secret items that the MuiMuis give you for then? Well, aside from the main game there are a couple of extras, the Loco house and a few minigames. The secret items you collect in the main game are "parts for the Loco house", things like little platforms, shapes to slide around, spinners to fall through and letters to spell out rude words of your choosing. The minigames themselves are nice additions, but not really anything to grab your attention for very long.

Loco Roco is an amazing game, quite possibly the most charming game I've ever played. It's the kind of game that will automatically make you happy while you play it. As a handheld title its ideal. Its only real drawback is that for many of us it might be over a little too soon. The game hits the US early September and is definitely recommended, if fun is your thing!

What's Hot: Beautiful to look at and listen to. Easy to get into, harder to master. Super happy mega fun!

What's Not: A bit short and easy. Finding every hidden item can frustrate.