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LocoRoco 2's perfectly flowery world is perfectly executed, but not for me. That, as I've come to realise is more interested in those games where I can dress-up, role-play and lose myself in another character's shoes.
I was worried I don't get LocoRoco. It's lauded by many for being a big bundle of fun and not really enjoying the sense of isolation that comes from disagreeing, I decided to give Sony's sequel LocoRoco 2 another shot.
LocoRoco 2 was part of Sony's planned resurgence for the PSP, capitalising on the rare success its previous iteration had found. Like the first game LocoRoco 2 is a 2D platform game centred on collecting items through exquisitely drawn expansive worlds. The distinctive clean look is what initially sets this game apart, and is still relatively unique, even if the style has been copied by the iPhone game Rolando.
The controls are also unusual in a gaming world built on complexity. It relies on just the two shoulder buttons to tilt the world, which moves your circular character. Apart from a jump mechanic and some environmental complications such as water, this is pretty much it. Roll along, collecting flowers, musical notes and avoiding Moja and success is assured.
Despite all this though, playing LocoRoco 2 was a struggle for me. There was nothing in my first hour to persuade me that I was enjoying things any more than last time. Pretty visuals and an infectious soundtrack are just not enough I guess.
Amidst the countryside aesthetic and blossoming flowers I had a realisation. Of course I don't like this game, there's no sense of escape, no chance to be someone else. I hadn't seen it quite as clearly as before but playing LocoRoco 2 made me realise that I love games for those dress-up role play moments, where I can enter another world and become someone other than me. For all it's cute platforming simplicity LocoRoco 2 just didn't take me anywhere in any real sense.
Amidst the countryside aesthetic and blossoming flowers I had a realisation.
Here, the lack of any real narrative and dialogue just abstracted me a little too far from the world I was experiencing. LocoRoco 2 tried to engage me with more items to collect, but without a structured narrative it felt like I was just rolling my way through each level and I felt little compulsion to return and try and better my collection percentages.
I could appreciate the level design - the journey through a giant penguin's internals certainly brought a smile to my face and recalled all of those other great games that have used a creature's guts. By the time all the levels had been unlocked I was willing to concede that some of the time I had been having fun, but I never felt fulfilled.
I'm off to find some dress-up role playing games to go and forget all about LocoRoco and loose myself in.
I would love to like LocoRoco 2 and stop feeling like there is something wrong me with me for not liking it, but then if I got pleasure from this then perhaps the universe would require me to not like games like Disgaea. Assuming there's only so much love one person can give, I am happy to give it to the other titles on my shelf.
It is a combination of a lack of a compelling narrative, surprise or opportunity to step into an imaginary role that made the game hard going for me. And I know, that's more about me than about the game, but even if LocoRoco 2 doesn't arouse anything other than indifference, I have played enough games to know that it is an extremely well made.
I am still glad about my time spent here though as it left me with a much better understanding of my own peculiar video game tastes. I'm off to find some dress-up role playing games to go and forget all about LocoRoco and lose myself in a proper fantasy.
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