LocoRoco 2 • Page 2

Bouncing back.

Sometimes you even get to control what are effectively vehicles, like an afro or a bluntly spiked ball, both of which tumble down hills at speed and need to be sprung from the tips of ramps to reach things, with the camera pulled back to capture it all. On other occasions you're caught in a bomb with a fuse, in an area with some collectibles and small gaps at the bottom, and you have to quickly gather the goodies before the bomb explodes you into single blobs and they fall to the area below. Our favourite sections, though, are the bits where the LocoRocos explode in aerial firework displays that flutter formationally to the ground at the peak of an on-rails set-piece.

For all the take-me-by-the-hand bits, however, there are more diversions on top of the multitude of hidden areas. Sometimes your feats are rewarded with mini-games, like a Wac-a-Mole derivative and Loco Race, although sadly the latter is about gambling on runners rather than racing (although there is an ad-hoc Wi-Fi race game). One of the better efforts is Loco Chuppa, where the sucking and spitting walking ladybirds propel you around a level at a pace dictated by the circle button. The idea is to navigate tunnels and perils by guestimating the right release speed.

Even Mui Mui House is quite interactive. In a game overflowing with as much charm and cheer as this, you might just spend a few minutes ringing bells next to knick-knacks to see what the Mui Mui do, although this is probably stretching it. More likely you'll concentrate on rinsing the main levels, where the developers have introduced other minor diversions, like little holes to pop into (sprouting in weird places on the other side), which often trigger rudimentary rhythm-action sections to replace the bits where you stand around and sang in the first game. The best bits of level design, though, are the ones where a flower mocks you from just out of reach, and you have to scratch at its surroundings to uncover a hidden path or physical set-piece to gain access. As with everything you ever do right in LocoRoco 2, there are more collectibles as rewards for success. Or mostly success.

Which sums up the game, really, although there's still a nagging sense, over its two dozen levels, that it remains a bit short, and there are also times when it ambushes you with fiddly Moja and barnacle enemies at speed, and this can be upsetting when you've just perfected the previous section and lose one of your hard-won LocoRocos. During the early stages it feels like a game angling for Fable II's banishing-all-punishment crown, but by the latter levels it's an honour withdrawn.

3

The load screen shows a little Mui Mui hammering away from left to right, and he gets further throughout the game. Although sometimes he has a nap.

Even so, it's very difficult not to get caught up by the parade of cute ideas, brought to life again with simple, beautiful graphics - dancing steel scaffolds, bizarre whirring gizmos, bright curvy hills and polka-dot skies, all single-shaded blocks overlaid on one another without outlines or gradients or even textures, really - and a more consistent soundtrack, which is now so hummable it's entering Katamari territory. And while there are a lot of false-wall bits, the developers have been careful to signpost them gently, so that when something is hidden nearby, you're usually given enough cues to know you should stick around and experiment with telltale holes, suspicious indentations and odd-looking rainbow elephants.

Ostensibly the same again, then, LocoRoco 2 nevertheless pulls its charm tight and burrows deeper into the mechanics, level layouts and set-pieces, presenting more elaborate rewards in visuals and gameplay, and doing a better job of sharing them with you so that you don't always feel as though you're searching for cuddly needles in a Teletubbies haystack. It comes across as a refined, more elaborately constructed sequel that remembers why it was good in the first place.

8 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy LocoRoco 2 Tom Bramwell Bouncing back. 2008-11-13T11:30:00+00:00 8 10

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