We considered ourselves lucky to have received the original LocoRoco on the PlayStation 4 earlier this year, so to also have its sequel is a wonderful thing. Japan Studio’s roll-em-up platformers are relentlessly joyful, and serve as perfect palate cleansers to play between holiday season behemoths. The second title takes the core of the first and does just about enough with it to keep your interest.
Luckily the core of LocoRoco is timelessly fun. You guide the titular blob-like creatures through each level by pressing L1 or R1 to tilt the world left or right, and they’ll roll and bounce around like balls of jelly. Hitting both buttons together will spring the singing ball into the air, and you can press circle or hold it down to split the LocoRoco up or bring them back together. LocoRoco 2 will feel very familiar to anyone who has played the first game, but there are some small additions and changes to the formula worth noting.
Perhaps the biggest change is in the level design. While at first glance the levels don’t appear to have changed at all, revisiting many of the colourful environments seen in the original game, there’s slightly more to each one to keep you busy. Musical notes can be found in each level and act as another collectible. Earning specific amounts of them will reward you with extra benefits, such as making pickories (the pink and orange collectibles from the first game) easier to collect, or decreasing the damage that those nasty black thorns cause. Particular flora and fauna you can bump into will be hiding these notes, as will the patches of black goo the Moja leave behind, but that’s not the only way to get them. The creatures that you need to sing to in order to progress return, but it’s now a sort of mini rhythm-based sequence where you have to match the beat of your LocoRoco’s song. The better you do, the more musical notes you’ll receive.
There is generally more interaction with other inhabitants of the LocoRoco’s world, too, such as nudging a mushroom-like creature to transform his head into a giant springboard, or stealing a shell so you can squeeze inside to break down some path-blocking rocks. The levels are just that little bit more involved, and it’s these fresh ideas that give LocoRoco 2 a very slight edge over the first.
There are also a couple of new mini games to try out, as well as a more fleshed out version of the Loco House that rewards you with items and other bonuses as you fill it in. Even the loading screen has a purpose; a MuiMui digs his way from the left to the right, and each time he reaches the right-hand side of the screen, he unearths a new item for you to use in the MuiMui House.
The story is presented in slightly longer cutscenes, detailing the return of the Mojas alongside new boss creatures you’ll have to face off against as you fight to protect the idyllic home world of the LocoRoco and their friends. As with the first game, the story isn’t going to change your life, but the cutscenes are entertaining enough.
Speaking of cutscenes, as with the first remaster, they don’t appear to have been touched, resulting in a strange juxtaposition between the gloriously crisp gameplay and the low-res story beats. It’s hardly a problem, but it is a shame the cutscenes couldn’t be kept consistent. Other than that, the game looks and sounds great: the colours pop off the screen, it all feels buttery smooth, and you’ll be humming the jolly soundtrack long after you’ve turned your console off.
Aside from some more inventive level design and a couple of new bells and whistles to keep you occupied, LocoRoco 2 Remastered is more of the same, which in our book is no bad thing. There’s little here that will surprise you, but it does just as good a job as the first game in providing a simple, grin-inducing few hours. We’ve rather enjoyed revisiting both titles this year, and we think fans old and new will still get a lot of fun out of them. Games as jovial as this one don’t come around very often these days, so if you’re after something light, you’ll have a ball.