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Loco Roco
  opened by paleface at 05:24:21 12/19/07  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PSP; cat=Platformer; reg=NA]
One of Sony Japan's much-touted in-house creations early in their new portable's life, and a darn fun and unique game, in which you guide a hungry (of course) blob through twisting 2D stages by tilting the ground with the L and R shoulder buttons, which causes the blob to slide in that direction (ie downhill). Press both at once to bop him up into the air, and press a face button to cause lightning to strike and zap him into smaller component parts in order to fit through narrow gaps.
The game tracks stats per level: how many of your blob siblings you collected (ate and grew fatter on), how many purple fruit things you ate, how many of these little blue dudes you found, and how long it took you to get to the end.
I'm still in the early levels, and it isn't really hard to get through each stage, but it is becoming harder and harder to find all the hidden goodies. They're pretty darn nefarious about hiding stuff, and it's usually behind what look to the naked eye like perfectly solid, impervious walls--but some you can move right through, and some can be cracked with sufficient blob impacts. It's satisfying to find them, but not really that fun to peck through the whole level, hurling yourself suspiciously at every single wall just in case there's a secret behind it--and maybe not finding them all even after you've spent a long time doing that. So I've kind of given up on trying to collect everything in each stage. It is fun though to see how fast you can race through each stage, so I'm glad the game tracks your fastest time, 'cause you can always challenge yourself to shave a few hundredths of a second off somehow. Maybe if you take that one bounce turn just a little differently...
Loco Roco's graphics employ a unique 2D spline-like engine that lets them generate blobs and soft walls that react in organic ways when they impact each other, complete with convincing physics. Each level will have you bouncing your blob in new ways against new types of obstacles to get through the level; in the most recent level I've played, for instance, to get to some hidden goodies, you have to launch yourself off a super-bouncy floor (this is inside a giant frog's stomach :p), then pinball off some strategically placed round blobs composed of the same super-bouncy flesh, at just the right angles to propel yourself up to the ledge where the goodies await.
Everything's composed of these squishing spline things, including the characters, who as a result look sort of abstract and cartoony. The look as a whole is simple, charming, and highly animated, since everything is jiggling in its own way all the time.
The design team also went off on a limb with the game's sound, and each stage has a unique, peppy soundtrack. The little yellow blobs who compose the big hungry blob you're rolling through the level will break apart at certain spots, and then break into a weird, babbling song. It's cute, but the same babble is re-used over and over, and gets a little over cute after a while.
The offbeat, bouncy presentation is inseparable from the detailed and carefully tweaked physics behind all those intricate splines, and together they make for a loopy, enjoyable ride, provided you don't get too obsessed with finding every little thing the evil level designers hid without a trace.
  paleface 05:42:52 12/19/07
Hm... I look like a moron in those level playthroughs, but there's sort of a reason for that. Stages are designed in such a way that you can't get through them just by reaction--you kinda have to know what's coming, especially if you're hunting for hidden stuff. So the first playthroughs, at least for me, are ugly, halting, stumbling affairs as I poke and prod through the level. After that I usually do another one or two to try to find everything, then give up and do speed run-throughs to go for the fastest time.

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