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The amount of decent PSP games in recent years has certainly been disappointing. So even those that didn't fall in love with the original will be happy to see another confident outing of LocoRoco. LocoRoco 2 gives more of the same great gameplay, with new baddies, and a smattering of mini games to improve upon the original formula. It never hits the hardcore or complex level I would have liked, but there's no denying the insatiable charm of this unique platformer.
If the first LocoRoco passed you by then let me bring you up to speed. The game puts you in control of small, singing, dough-like creatures who exist to defend their planet from the sticky paws of the evil Moja. Well, in actual fact you don't control the LocoRocos themselves at all - instead you tilt the environment and use gravity to get them where they need to go.
LocoRoco sensibly continues this simple story and minimal controls of the original. The PSP's Left and Right trigger buttons are used to tilt, holding them both down to jump, and the O button is used for everything else. The simplicity of this interaction perfectly matches the smooth shaded lines of the game's aesthetic. This really is gaming for the iPod generation - where every corner is rounded and every blade of grass rendered with expert care.
Each level soon starts to stretch these controls as you do your utmost to gain access to every last nook and cranny. Like a traditional platform games the main task is to progress from left to right through the environment. But alongside this is a wonderfully honed puzzle game. As you journey through the world there are berries to collect that increase the size of your LocoRoco and grant the ability to split into a number of constituent parts (with just a tap of the O button). Spotting a berry (or one of the other collectibles) often leads to some great puzzle gaming moments as you try to figure out how to get to them.
The first game never put the player under much threat but thankfully LocoRoco 2 introduces genuine danger and challenge.
It's this labyrinthine quality to each world that makes LcocRoco 2 almost endlessly replayable. Even if you do manage to complete a level with a full store of LocoRoco's there is still the challenge of doing so in the fastest time. Here, expert players will delight in draining every last drop from each world, and doing so with record breaking speed.
It's hard to get away from the fact that this is a game that comes alive in the hands of a casual player. Handing the PSP over to someone who wasn't a regular player showed how accessible the game was. It also highlights how easy it is to fall victim to being too active in this game. On several occasions I could simply let the LocoRoco rest a while and then it triggered a suction pad that let me proceed. I'd been too busy jumping and bouncing all over the place for it to work.
Another casual inclusion are the mini-games. Although they help to break up the play over long sessions I found them becoming an irritation distraction more than light relief. What was more welcome is the inclusion of some proper enemies. The first game never put the player under much threat but thankfully LocoRoco 2 introduces genuine danger and challenge. New enemies in the form of Venus fly trap plants, blowfish, stinging bees and the troublesome Bui Bui are now prevalent in the world. Falling prey to these wrong doers usually results in the loss of one of your collected LocoRoco.
But this still left me disappointed. The first game was criticised for not catering to the hard core gamer and I don't feel this has been rectified by the second. I'm all for more accessible and casual titles but it would have been nice to have seen a little more depth to the game. LocoRoco 2 continues the strength of the first game, so despite my yearnings for more challenge this is still a highly entertaining and playable platformer.
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