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Review

Review: Locoroco Midnight Carnival (PSP)

The latest LocoRoco game goes all Halloween on us.

The best games sneak up on you like Christmas, and the Gamescom reveal of the new Locoroco game couldn’t have been better timed – it’s only been a matter of a few short months since we first heard about the new adventures of Kulche and friends – and it’s out tomorrow. Branded to coincide with Halloween, Midnight Carnival is actually much more than a spooky subset of levels, the sixteen main sections of the World Map actually span a few different themes and each brings with it its own sense of character – the Winter levels have huge friction-free icy half pipes, for example.

Sixteen levels might not seem like a huge amount, and to be fair a lot of them are actually quite short, but this time around a fair bit of work has been done upping the difficulty level and translating the addictive, intuitive two button controls into more of a platformer than anything we’ve seen before in the Locoroco world – jumpable chasms that cause death being a particular shock early in the game. If this is your first time with the controls, the L and R triggers are used to ‘tip’ the level, and tapping both together ‘flicks’ it, essentially causing your Locoroco to jump.

A number of new control features have been added to Midnight Carnival – you can now chain flicks to create massive boost jumps, which not only get your Locoroco’s higher and higher but actually contribute towards a decent score. In addition, you can now bounce off vertical walls and objects like Mario, again, just using the two controls. In a first for the PSPgo, apart from the minigames the entire thing (including the menus) can be controlled with the sliding screen down, which is particularly cool and works better than I’d imagined it to do, with the flick command acting like the X button if needed.

Each of the levels can also be attempted in multiplayer – Midnight Carnival supports four player ad-hoc multiplayer so make sure you test out the game with friends nearby as the local interaction between players is a really nice touch, especially when you’re playing cooperatively. Other network features include the ability to share replays of levels you’re rightly proud of, and there’s online infrastructure rankings for both Score and Time attacks, giving the game almost endless replayability if you’re competitively natured.

Replays are only allowed once you’d purchased the Replay Player in the BuiBui Shop, a little diversion sat at the far left of the World Map. In here you can buy various items for your LocoRoco and lots of different things for the game itself, with successful playing of the main game unlocking additional items such as a camera (so you can take screenshots) and a practice level, great for honing your flick chain skills before opting to take on the world at a Time attack. There’s also a couple of minigames – BuiBui Crane is the fairground crane game, and LocoBall is a simple pachinko simulator.

Midnight Carnival is a completist’s dream – each level of the World Map shows you which MuiMui you’ve found, your current best record, the time to beat and which medals you’ve picked up – and whilst it’s true that sixteen levels is much less than the other ‘proper’ Locoroco games in my opinion there’s just as much here to enjoy than ever before, especially given the £11.99 price bracket. It’s practically faultless, packed with charm and character and an absolute joy to play, especially on a shiny new PSPgo (although obviously the game works on any PSP).

Pros:

  • It’s more LocoRoco – one of my favourite series on the PSP.
  • Built for the PSPgo – it’s entirely playable (minigames aside) with just the triggers.
  • Well priced, and far bigger than the press releases would have you believe.
  • The new super bounce move is a brilliant idea.
  • Multiplayer is a nice addition.

Cons:

  • It’s tough – harder than previous titles right from the off.
  • It’s a little bit too ‘platformy’ for me in places.

Verdict:

LocoRoco Midnight Carnival is a fantastic addition to the ever increasing PSP library. It’s smart, well balanced, packed with content and a penny under twelve quid is actually pretty good value. Fans should consider this a no-brainer, newcomers might need a little longer to adjust to the controls but the two button mechanic is stronger and more refined than ever. I’m in love with the series, and thus probably as biased towards this game as a person can objectively be, but this is surely a wicked little game in anyone’s eyes: 9/10

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