LocoRoco 2 (PSP) – Review

cover LocoRoco 2 is the sequel to the popular LocoRoco game, does exactly what a sequel should do – it provides the same fun, if somewhat simple, gameplay with a few added twists which don’t detract from the game’s core entertainment value, keeping the strong presentation in graphics and music that also made the game what it is.  Studio Japan’s put out another great game that works perfectly on the PSP and should be a part of any PSP owner’s collection.

Story: A-

In LocoRoco 2, the Moja Corps have returned, now armed with their own song to counter that of the LocoRoco and their planet, causing other beings that live on the planet to tire out.  They’ve also been able to convert some of the helpful Mui Mui to their side, who set about to create their own vehicles to spread the Moja’s bleakness across the planet. It’s up again to the LocoRoco to reawaken their music with their song.  Compared to the first game, there’s a more concrete plot, still told without words in cutscenes in the same style as the rest of the game, and conveys a nice funny story.  It’s not deep by far (younger kids still need to get it) but enough to be a better driver for the game.

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Gameplay: A

The core aspects of the first game are still here, and as a good sequel, only attempts to add a few tricks to the goodie bag to keep the game fresh.  You don’t directly control the LocoRoco but instead use the PSP shoulder buttons to "tilt" the planet left and right to make the LocoRoco roll in that direction.  You can also make them jump by holding and releasing the shoulder buttons at the same time, necessary for clearing gaps, jumping to higher platforms, break walls, and fending off attacks from the Moja Corps.  As the LocoRoco goes about the level and eats a berry, it will grow by one; after this, you can tap a face button that will cause the LocoRoco to split into numerous individual LocoRoco which may be need to get by narrow spaces, and then regroup them into the large LocoRoco by holding down the face button.  New to their bag of tricks is for the LocoRoco to "swim" underwater, primarily using the shoulder buttons to control their motion of flow, and their ability to grip onto hanging objects from which they can then swing back and forth at times (rapidly pressing the shoulder buttons) to pull on that object as needed.  The controls are still very simple and can be picked up easily.

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The game presents a linear course of about 20 levels to complete, but the story allows these levels to take place in a more haphazard order.  For example, instead of grouping the handful of ice-based levels into a group, you’ll play these levels interspersed with the others, thus making sure that no single environment gets old really fast in the game. The goal in each level is to try to make it to the end with as many LocoRoco (up to 20), collecting as many "Pickories" (effectively currency) along the way, in the fastest time possible.  However, there are many secret areas to explore to find the waiting Mui Mui, LocoRoco House pieces, berries, and more; as with the first game, you’ll get an idea where these are based on "hints" in the level design, typically an odd depression in the side of a wall that if you try to jump through, the hidden area will be revealed.  A significant addition to the game is the collection of musical notes through the levels.  Waking some of the LocoRoco planet creatures by touching them will reward you with a small number of notes, while encountering certain areas or beings with a minimum number of LocoRoco will initiate a simple beat-matching game to the LocoRoco song, and earn you a larger number of notes.  Once a certain number of notes are reached, you "level up" the level, making it easier to collect objects on that level through the rest of playing it and on return trips.  Also, with the Moja Corps’ song, there are areas that need to be wiped clean of the Moja influence (a matter of jumping the LocoRoco through the black clouds), which also reward notes as well as lead to overall larger bonuses.  Because of the number of secret areas and several ways of perfecting the levels, there’s a lot of replay value in the core game alone, more so than from the first game.

But in addition to that are a few new minigames.  There is still a “Chuupa” launcher game to try to get the farthest distance on a course using special bird launchers, similar to the first game.  Two more mini-games are based on events in the game, one where you use the Mui Muis to defend their house from evil Mui Muis, and then a second game that’s more like a shoot-em-up where you have to defeat the evil Mui Mui force with your own Mui Mui plane while carrying a LocoRoco on the backside to eat up the spoils of war.  You get one free shot at each, but after that you need to spend Pickories to play these, using good scores for getting House pieces.  The house this time is more for the Mui Muis, and you get to dig out new rooms and add furniture with all the pieces that you’ve collected, some which add the ability to look at movies or listen to music in the game, while others are simply toys.  Nothing significant, but adds enough to make you want to work towards full completion of the game.

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Otherwise, the game is about as difficult as it was in the first game – if you’re just trying to clear it, it’s pretty fun and easy, but trying to aim for full completion is a bit more work and may require a few trips through each level to locate all the hidden areas.  Fortunately, the rest of the game’s presentation makes this a welcoming feature as opposed to a chore.

Value/Replayability: B+

The game has about 20-odd levels, like the first, each that will take you 5-10 minutes to complete without trying for full completion.  Like the first game, this leaves you with a rather short game to complete, so looking at the extra features helps to fill out the game.  Maybe not that much for the older gamer, but certainly enough there for younger gamers to keep there interest for a good while.

Graphics: A+

The game’s graphic approach hasn’t changed at all from the first game; everything uses bright, solid colors, allowing it easy to see all that needs to be seen while still allowing for great expression in the levels.  The LocoRoco retain their jelly-like behavior, and still morph and bounce around like little children, with great facial expressions.  There’s still the bit of a blurring effect but I’ve come to judge that more a factor of the LCD screen than the game itself.

Audio: A

The game also retains the light, bouncing songs using the fictional language that the first game had, with just the right amount of reuse of the old melodies and some nice fresh songs.  As with the first game, the number of voices in the songs are dependant on your LocoRocos – if you have just a single large one, you’ll get only a single voice singing, but with many LocoRoco in their individual state, you get all their voices – this is also true when you hit certain areas to wake the residents during the rhythm-game part.  It can get a bit too bubbly if you play all the way through once but certainly not painful on the ears.

Overall: A

LocoRoco 2 certainly doesn’t fail being a worthy sequel to the great first game, and does exactly what a sequel should do: provide the same gameplay with a few new tricks, nothing to make it feel like a strange new experience but still staying fresh.  It’s also a great cross-age game that can appeal to several ages of gamers, and definitely a nice game for the youngsters in this day and age.  It’s also enjoyable without playing the first, though you’d get a better appreciation for the overall experience if you’ve played the first.  Definitely a must-have game if you have a PSP.

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One Response

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