When it was released to Sony’s portable PlayStation in 2006, Sony’s weird, wonderful, and whimsical LocoRoco instantly became one of my favourite games for the system. Bright, colourful, and inventive, LocoRoco had an implausibly catchy and cheerful soundtrack and an almost soothing gameplay loop.
It’s back, Remastered for the PlayStation 4. While it’s a relatively barebones remaster, it brings its striking visuals to PS4 at 1080p, with support for 4K on the PlayStation 4 Pro.
If you missed its release over a decade ago, the game has a simple premise. The vibrant, pastel world is under attack from the dastardly Moja Corps, and it’s up to the LocoRoco and their interminable warbling to put an end to it.
To do that, you’ll have to roll about as a titular LocoRoco a sort of squishy, yellow happy-faced ballons filled with jelly. The goal on each of the 40 or so levels is clear and simple: get to the end. You may face a little resistance by way of spikes or errant Moja – but not very much. It’s more a game of exploration, trying to find hidden areas by bashing through walls or finding sneaky ethereal walls. It’s not too different from the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog in that regard – but it’s in its odd control scheme where its brilliance shines through.
Instead of the fine, direct control of your singing, roly-poly blob, you tilt the screen to the left or right using the shoulder buttons, up to an angle of around 30 degrees in either direction. Holding them both down, then letting go lets you jump, but letting go of just one button jumps in the opposite direction. It all sounds fiddly and counterintuitive, but becomes second nature just a few minutes in.
Along the way, you’ll gobble up strange, unnamed pink flying things, and berries – which make the game a little more dynamic. Roll over said berry, and the LocoRoco will double in size. There are typically 20 such fruits scattered throughout levels, some of which are deviously hidden. Tapping a button breaks your larger LocoRoco into its constituent ones; an army of little globs to tilt and bounce around the level. This lets you access areas that require you to be of a certain size, letting you snatch the hidden collectibles. Holding the same button makes your collected LocoRoco coalesce back in to its bigger form. It’s a simple mechanic, which is put to great, inventive use.
Almost every level presents something new and interesting, some sort of mechanism that turns the level in to a Rube Goldberg-ian delight. The core mechanic doesn’t change through the game’s 40 levels though, so it can become a bit repetitive.
LocoRoco looks wonderful, with a simple, flat cartoon aesthetic. Later, different coloured types of LocoRoco. They don’t do much to change the game beyond the aesthetic, though each type sings differently. And it’s in its audio that the game delivers much of its undeniable charm. The perpetual, gibberish J-Pop-like songs that the LocoRoco sing have a horrible habit of putting an indelible smile on my face.
On top of the game itself there is a trio of unlockable mini games, though they don’t add too much value. As far as being a remaster goes, the game’s original aesthetic translates incredibly well to larger screens. Unfortunately little care seem to have been given to the game’s sporadic FMV scenes, which are scaled up from the PSP version, and look a little washed out. Not much has been added. You can now use the DualShock 4’s gyroscopes to use tilting motion controls, and the controller’s speaker is put to fantastic use – with the relentlessly cheerful LocoRoco’s warblings sometimes coming through the Dualshock.
It’s pure, distilled delight. LocoRoco is still fun to play, but it is short. It’s easy enough to bluster through the game in a handful of hours, but finding all of the berries and the hidden MuiMui (which help unlock bits to make custom levels) add a bit of longevity.
Last Updated: May 11, 2017