When the original LocoRoco released for the PlayStation Portable in 2006, it was met with warm critical reception and a fan base that bordered on cult following until the game received a sequel in 2008.
The quirky, colorful games brought a level of innovation and seamlessness that was prominent in other PSP games at the time. Games like Metal Gear Ac!d, Daxter and Patapon either took risks when adapting their parent franchises or offered new, unique experiences that could only be found on Sony's handheld.
So color us surprised when it was announced at last year's PlayStation Experience conference that LocoRoco, along with Patapon and PaRappa The Rapper, would be received high-definition remasters this year. With PaRappa now released, it's LocoRoco's turn to return to the spotlight, and after returning to the game after more than ten years, it's easy to say that the transition to PlayStation 4 was nigh perfect.
The concept of LocoRoco is fairly simple: you roll around as a LocoRoco using the L+R buttons, tilting the screen to move your character, a little colorful blob that eats special plants and bugs and get bigger based on how many of the former it eats. Twenty of these special flowers are littered throughout every level. To jump, you hold L+R at the same time and release. The longer you hold, the higher you jump.
As you grow in size, you'll be faced with twists and turns throughout each level, with different terrain, types of LocoRoco and locked gateways attempting to improve or impede your times and progress. The game is a collectathon, so when you say a crowd of sleeping clouds that ask you for ten LocoRoco, you best get them together, because chances are a neccessary collectible is hidden behind that invisible wall.
The levels are fairly short if you're looking to speed your way through them, but the real fun in the gameplay comes from the brief exploration you have finding nooks and crannies in each level, since they are easy to miss and fairly well hidden.
You'll also come across different types of enemies as you attempt to locate three "MuiMui" in each level, tiny humanoid creatures that unlock "pieces" for your LocoRoco House when you find them. The LocoRoco House feature is an afterthought to the main game, but it's a fun, terrarium-esque place to show off your accomplishments.
You can earn additional pieces and even LocoRoco for your House by playing the minigames included with the title, including a crane game where you spend bug currency earned in single player for your chance to snag something cool -- you just won't know what it is until you grab it. Aside from the LocoRoco of course, you'll see them hanging out in the game.
Each time you complete one of the game's five worlds, you'll unlock a new playable LocoRoco, each with their own personalities and color palettes. This adds a bit of diversity to a game that may seem to get old quick, as the two or three-button scheme seen in games like Donkey Kong: King of Swing tends to wear off awfully quickly.
LocoRoco Remastered makes the transition to high-definition fairly well, with all assets meeting their HD counterparts with grace -- except the game's cinematics, which have been replicated at their native resolution. This isn't too much of a problem, since the game's story isn't as gripping as you might think. It's an OK loss.
Slight framerate dips and bugs may impede your progress as you make your way through the game, but the overall charm should prevent you from getting too frustrated. On a couple of occasions the game did crash, but we haven't been able to replicate the issue specifically.
Of course, the game's crowning achievement is in its sound design, as the chipper tunes of the original game return in all their wonderful glory, and allow the game to seem like as much of a rhythm game as it is a puzzle-adventure.
Your team of LocoRoco will mouth words to the songs of the game, which range from K-pop-esque tunes to French-inspired ballads. They sing as a chorus, and during the aforementioned "required LocoRoco walls," the chants will come through the speaker of the DualShock 4. It's a nice touch, just don't play in the dark, as it's actually kind of scary.
At the end of the day, there's not really much more we could ask for from an HD remaster of a 2006 PSP game. LocoRoco was a charming little adventure when it first released, and its gameplay, sound and presentation hold up just as well in 2017.
Joining the ranks of cult favorites like Katamari Damacy or PaRappa The Rapper, all we can hope for is that the second game makes it here just as gracefully -- same goes for Patapon later this year.
With that, I'll leave you with the game's main theme. Good luck getting that out of your head.
Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars.