When LocoRoco first released on the PlayStation Portable in 2006, it both stole the hearts of gamers around the world, and truly established the ‘weird’ side that has always been a part of Sony’s gaming catalogue. Bright colours, catchy rhythms and gameplay that wasn’t the norm at the time, LocoRoco was a change to the titles that had released on the handheld. But despite a sequel and a few spin-offs, the game languished in the past until now; looking sharper than ever, LocoRoco returns with LocoRoco Remastered.
For those of you who didn’t get caught up in the game the first time around, the premise is relatively simple – as the player, you move the world with the L1 and R1 buttons, and the little blob LocoRocos move in the direction the world has tilted in. Pressing both buttons and then releasing them causes the world to bump the LocoRoco, allowing it to jump obstacles and gaps. Pressing the Circle button splits your current LocoRoco into smaller versions of itself depending on how many berries you have eaten – a total of 19 berries can be found throughout each level. Holding Circle reforms the LocoRoco from individuals into one large blob again.
Along the way, hidden creatures known as MuiMui can be found in secret areas, offering collectible parts for use later in the game, as well as finding strange and magical inhabitants of each world who will offer a collectible provided you have enough LocoRocos in your party. Collecting all the MuiMui and the Pickories (small fairy-like creatures) adds unlockables in the LocoRoco house which you can customise to your heart’s content, and play minigames to unlock more collectibles.
Of course, the game isn’t so simple as collecting berries and goods – the Moja, scary black alien creatures will sometimes chase after your LocoRoco and latch on, sucking out LocoRoco one by one. They can usually be despatched easily by being jumped into (which will also save any LocoRocos being eaten at the time), but larger ones will need several whacks before they go down. Other threats include thorns which, depending on the number of LocoRocos you currently have, will pierce it and flick them off – and if they aren’t collected in time they will disappear (and you can’t get them back).
The simplistic 2D visuals really pop on screen too, and benefit from their transition from the PSP. Couple this with the addictive and earworm-inducing soundtrack and this is a game you can really lose yourself in and spend ages playing. New players will love the fact that the game is easy to play from the get-go, while more experienced gamers will want to hunt down every last berry, Pickory or collectible they can find. With the DualShock 4’s motion capabilities the game can even be played by tilting the controller, however I personally chose to turn it off as it didn’t really add anything to my gameplay experience.
One of the biggest drawbacks (and an issue I encountered) was the fact that somehow, in eleven years since the game’s release, no autosave function has been incorporated. I played through maybe 20 levels before turning the game off and coming back only to find all of my rolling and jumping had been for naught. It’s a simple button press on the main menu, but still one that I feel could have been added in the remaster. The other grievance will be the songs – catchy and fun at first, but eventually they will start grating on you if you play too long.
With its smooth and bright visuals, catchy soundtrack and easy gameplay, LocoRoco Remastered is a great way to unwind and play something a little less serious. Not much has changed in eleven years since its initial release, but that goes to show how simple and solid a game it was at the time of release. Prepare to get stuck with earworms over the soundtrack though!