Did you play the original 2006 version of LocoRoco on the PlayStation Portable (PSP)? You did? Well then move along; there’s nothing for you to see here other than higher resolutions and faster loading times. This is exactly the same game complete with squishy, amorphous blob of joy, cutesy singing and saturated colours.
So, good news then?
Pretty much, but there’s also something a little, well, off this time around.
I completely adored the original LocoRoco when it rolled and gobbled its chubby little way onto the PSP. At the time it was something so completely different and original for Sony’s mobile platform. It wasn’t yet another portable version of an already popular console franchise, and as a result it earned somewhat of a cult fan base in a very short amount of time. I played the heck out of it as I commuted my sorry self between dreary, soul-destroying jobs during my clichéd gap year in London. And then I lost my game cartridge. My PSP was pretty much dead to me after that.
Then a weird thing happened: I found my original copy of LocoRoco about three weeks ago. It was enough to make me find and dust off my PSP; to my surprise the thing still worked despite having been shoved in the back of a cupboard for the last 10 years. I reckon that’s pretty much all you need to know about LocoRoco: the game was enough to make me revive my PSP.
I’d actually had no idea Sony was remastering the game for PlayStation 4. The timing was pretty spot-on considering I was replaying the original. Needless to say I was very interested to see how the original transferred onto larger TV screens with up-scaled resolutions and a full console controller.
In LocoRoco Remastered, as in the original, you guide happy, singing little colourful blobs as they try to restore peace to the world after a dastardly Moja attack. The LocoRocos have to navigate five game worlds of eight levels each, safely multiply themselves (by eating red berries), and find their missing Mui Mui friends. There are also a handful of inconsequential mini-games, and a bunch of parts to unlock to decorate and design your LocoRoco house in the main title screen.
As you find berries in each level, you gain another LocoRoco, which will merge into your existing LocoRoco. The more berries you eat, the bigger your LocoRoco becomes and the more difficult it gets to control. You can split your engorged, amorphous LocoRoco into its individual LocoRocos any time you want to, and in certain places you have to in order to navigate smaller areas, but you always run the risk of losing a few of them through enemies, obstacles, or crummy platforming skills. Navigation works by tilting the levels using the shoulder L1 and R1 buttons on your controller, which makes your LocoRocos roll either left or right. You can also make them hop. The whole objective is to get at least one LocoRoco to the end of the level, but you’ll be able to pat yourself on the back if you can find all nineteen berries and make it home with 20 LocoRocos. It’s harder than it sounds.
There’s no denying the Remastered version looks gorgeous; colours are striking and the loading times mean you can hop into a quick game in a matter of seconds. But here’s also where things feel off. The original game was perfect for mobile gaming in that the levels were designed as bite-sized distractions to kill a few minutes on a commute or the like. Once you’re sitting down to play the game in front of a TV for an extended period of time, the original’s charm begins to wear off. Gameplay is, to be frank, pretty monotonous, and the drip-feed of new abilities and fresh level design mechanics are nowhere to be seen in a game this old. That absolutely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out LocoRoco Remastered, especially considering its cheap-as-chips asking price, but I do feel somewhat bad for those experiencing it for the first time on PS4. Removing the “mobile gaming” aspect of the original is definitely detrimental to the overall experience. I still recommend trying it, but I’m not as in love with LocoRoco Remastered as I was with its original version. My kids love it though, so if you’re looking for something neat to play with your spawnlings, then look no further.
75 LocoRoco Remastered is a faithful re-release of the 2006 classic. The game looks gorgeous on 4K displays, and the gameplay (while a little underwhelming by contemporary standards) is still clever. I’m not 100% convinced the game benefits from losing the mobile aspect of its existence, but at least those who missed the game the first time around can try this cult classic. If quirky platformers are your thing, then you’ll in all likelihood get a lot of joy out of LocoRoco Remastered.