Few games are as effortlessly cute or stylish as LocoRoco. Originally released for the PlayStation Portable more than a decade ago, it was hardly a best-seller for the system though won over critics and a doting fanbase. Those adorably vibrant visuals stood in stark contrast to the encroaching sludge of brown and grey being flung around by just about every AAA game at the time. While not as iconic as Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank, the podgy platformer has endured and now, in 2017, we’re being treated to a revival.
Part of LocoRoco’s lasting appeal stems from its unconventional approach to the genre. Where platformers usually allow complete freedom of movement along a two dimensional plane, LocoRoco has you tilting the entire stage. Doing so will help the eponymous blob(s) get around along with a jump action to clear the occasional gap or hurdle.
Along the way LocoRoco will gobble up pieces of fruit in a Katamari-like fashion, getting tubbier with each one you find. The added size and weight impacts how he moves, some obstacles requiring you to dissolve into multiple, smaller sized blobs to pass.
It can feel bizarre and somewhat unwieldy starting out, yet there’s a mastery to controlling LocoRoco. Certain physics-based elements, such as speed and trajectory, can be used to access hard-to-reach spots. In order to beat a stage all you need to do is the reach the end goal, though there’s plenty of reason to take your time and explore.
LocoRoco can feel lax in those earlier stages. Gradually, as you tilt your way through its 40 levels, it squeezes in some extras platforming gubbins into the mix. Floating Moja baddies will start to crop up, biting a chunk out of LocoRoco as they swoop from above. Meanwhile, some of the surfaces become spongy, sticky, or bouncy, subtly creating new ways of getting around. The rate these elements are gently eased in thankfully helps to avoid sudden spikes in difficulty.
Needless to say, LocoRoco is definitely a game that can be enjoyed by all age groups. While not tough to beat, there are plenty of optional challenges there for the completionists and core gamers among you. As touched on before, each stage is loaded with secrets to unlock, some of them stashed away in hard to find spots. If treasure hunting isn’t your jam then speedruns are another way of testing your LocoRoco platforming prowess.
With 40 levels in total, split across five worlds, it’s hard to feel shortchanged. Each stage can last anywhere between two and twenty minutes depending on how you approach them with a decent amount of replayability. They’re also put together in such a loving way, sporting a simplistic yet gorgeous spread of shapes and colours. Replaying the game on PS4, it’s great to see just how sharp the visuals are. Bar slightly fuzzy pre-rendered cutscenes, you’d never guess this was a remaster.
And then there’s the music. It’s just so chirpy and upbeat, you’d have to be a real scrooge not to sit there with a massive grin on your face. While it doesn’t directly affect gameplay, there are small touches throughout each stage that involve the game’s music in some way, similar to those found in the recent Rayman games.
With heavy hitters like Horizon, Nioh, Yakuza 0, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, there’s no shortage of fantastic exclusives on PlayStation 4 this year. That said, Sony continues to galvanise this lineup with a stalwart range of remasters. As with PaRappa, LocoRoco hasn’t been idly slapped together – there’s a thoughtfulness and diligence there, preserving the original look and feel of the game in a way modern audiences can now appreciate.