- Sony Computer Entertainment
- Single Player
- Playstation 4
- PlayStation Store
Locoroco is a bit of an oddity. It fits into the space of strange but likeable titles that I had to experience first. There’s something distinctly asian about it, which I assume would make it a hard sell to those with distinct western preferences. This is not a bad thing per se, if anything Rocoloco knows what it is where its influences are. For that alone I would commend it despite its weaknesses. So, let’s talk a little on what you can expect.
I would describe Locoroco best as a rolling platformer; featuring plenty interesting game mechanics that add considerable depth to the game. The presentation is clean and colourful. For a game whose philosophy is simplicity, this is an asset. Both the sound and visuals of the game felt polished. The cheerful visuals are matched by an equally happy soundtrack, and the experience plays out smooth as one would expect.
It’s important to note that Locoroco was a PSP (PlayStation Portable) exclusive. The smaller screen from Sony’ old device and simplified control setup demanded an intuitive input system. When the PS4 port released, it made sense to replicate it. The circle and X buttons are both mapped to contextual functions, while R1 and L1 rotate the world. Put in simple terms: everything responds well and the game plays well as a result.
The main game has you taking your Locoroco (that’s a plural for the little yellow guys you start with), to save MuiMui (the little blue guys with spikey hair hidden in each level) from the bad guys. They’re pretty well hidden, and when you save one you are awarded a part for your house. Save Muimuis in the unlockable mini games and you’ll get even more rare parts for your house. Though it’s not necessary to collect parts for your house – the developers have added a mode where you can customise your Locoroco’s place of living. Essentially it’s an additional area of the game to play around. Most common parts are collected throughout the main game, where rare parts are picked up in mini games.
Essentially, the more you play and the more MuiMui you save the more items and modes you unlock. The mini games themselves are quite fun but are quite difficult at first. The first mini game unlocked, MuiMui Crane plays like those dreaded claw machines where you press buttons and pick things up. At first you start off with a small crane, and later on as you progress you gain a bigger one, making it easier to pick items up. For the fans of the old Whack A Mole, there’s even a mini game designed for you. Completionists will appreciate the little additions like the house customisation and alternative game modes.
Locoroco’s level design is sublime and makes wonderful use of the game’s unique controls and mechanics. Finding secrets demand practice. Knowing what kind of trajectory you need to use in order to reach secret areas is a matter of practice. Locoroco, like most gameplay-focused titles, doesn’t hold your hand but rather leaves you to explore as much or as little as you want. It’s refreshing to see in an age where mystery is such a rare thing to see.
Now, considering that Locoroco is a PSP port I’d have expected some visual upgrades moving to the PS4. Yes, there are major ones – most notably the resolution upgrades over its handheld counterpart. Since its graphics are so simplistic in nature the main challenge I anticipated for the developers would’ve been adapting to a different processor architecture. I’m happy to report this isn’t an issue and I didn’t encounter any glitching or performance issues throughout my playthroughs.
The soundtrack to Locoroco is great! Using an entirely fictional language, the music has some western influences while still sounding very giddy with obvious k-pop flare. The instrumentation is mostly acoustic and natural giving it a “live band” feel. I found all of it catchy and enjoyable. Sound effects saw minimal use of human voice, and rightfully so. This minimised the work needed from the development team and this there were no times that anything was hard on my hears. All round, a great effort!
I only really found one major flaw with this game: Once you’ve exhausted the what the game has to offer there really isn’t much else left to do. There’s no multiplayer to lean on, or co-operative play with higher difficulty and Locoro will suffer as a result. I will say that if Sony only charges around R200 for Locoroco, then this isn’t much of a problem at all. I’ve played games which I completed in a few hours that I paid full price for (I’m looking at you, The Order). If you factor in the price tag, though, Locoroco is real value for your hard earned money.
To conclude, Locoroco was a pleasant surprise for me. It performed well and made me exercise my brain more than I expected. Locoroco also gave me a great appreciation for solid level design and polished game mechanics. If every game made was as well made as Locoroco we’d certainly see a better gaming industry as a whole. Well done Sony for bringing this title back, may you bring us many more like this one.
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