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Is LocoRoco racist?

Man says so; others say no.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

A blogger has kicked up a right old storm of controversy after suggesting that PSP puzzler LocoRoco has racist overtones.

In a post on his 1UP blog, Alejandro Quan-Madrid argued that the Moja enemies in LocoRoco resemble the racist "blackface" caricature adopted by minstrel peformers at the start of the twentieth century. They remained commonplace for many years - in Britain, the BBC's own Black and White Minstrel Show ran until 1978.

"Today in virtually any public sphere in the US, a depiction of a blackface character is not met without much murmurings and harsh criticism," Quan-Madrid wrote.

"In comparison, some countries such as Japan (where LocoRoco was developed) do not have significant black populations and so blackface images can come about without any criticism.

"The images are also then okay to be labelled as the enemy or even serve as representations of black characters in general, despite the racist images they perpetuate. That and I hear that Japanese people (in Japan) at times can be pretty innocently racist."

Quan-Madrid even goes so far as to suggest that "One could also equate the "invasion of the Moja and the fleeing of the LocoRocos to black slaves being brought to American and the very common practice of today of white flight.

"But we're not even going to go there," he added, perhaps a bit too late.

According to Quan-Madrid, he's "not accusing the developers of being racist, nor am I accusing LocoRoco of being a racist game. I simply believe that this is a product of unchecked institutionalised racism that needs calling out."

He went on to suggest that a colour change for the Mojas should be implemented, because "I do feel these racist undertones, whether intentional or not, would stop me as well as others from fully enjoying this game".

So what does Sony have to say about it? Well, "LocoRoco is a fantasy game geared towards a worldwide audience that takes place in a vibrant pastel world with colorful landscapes and characters and is not based on real-life places, people or things." So there.

Let the comments commence!

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