While a decent quantity of PSP owners avoid updating the firmware on their handheld of choice, Sony have dangled the most tantaqlizing of carrots in front of gamers noses in order to cajole them into installing the latest update in the form of a playable demo of LocoRoco.
For those not already in the know, LocoRoco is a bright, colourful, side scrolling puzzle/platform game. To keep things fresh, players navigate their gelatinous blob through the level by tilting the world (think a side on Super Monkey Ball) using the L and R buttons on the PSP. You start as a tiny little orange ball, and by consuming certain objects your blobby avatar increases in size. Bigger is not always better - certain puzzles will require you to split your ball up in order to progress. While simply getting from the beginning to the end of a level is enjoyable enough, there are enough secrets here to make a politician cry with bonus items and hidden passages aplenty.
More unimaginative members of the gaming press have labelled LocoRoco as a Katamari clone, opinions no doubt based on a cursory glance at a handful of screenshots. To be fair, the overall aesthetic and underlying vibe of LocoRoco shares common ground with the Katamari games – the surreal atmosphere and deceptively addictive music for example. Fortunately for PSP fans, LocoRoco is being built from the ground up for the PSP, and as such works well with the PSP’s control setup – unlike a lot of PS2 ports that suffer with the loss of the second analogue stick.
Possibly the single biggest surprise with LocoRoco is the fact that its not a Nintendo game – the overall aesthetic and quirky gameplay would be right at home on a Nintendo console. The game boasts a vibrant atmosphere, novel controls and enough secrets to ensure that you play it through several times.