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The dark horse
OK, so a game that has you tilting a 2D landscape to roll some blobs around might not sound too appealing, but you'll think differently once you've seen - and heard - LocoRoco in action. This knockout from Sony blends uniquely addictive puzzle-platformer gameplay with what might be the most irresistibly cute presentation we've ever seen. Your little orange blobs - the LocoRoco - sing peppy rock songs to you as you guide them around, adding more to their number and joining or splitting them as needed. After trying this one out for ourselves, we're convinced it's the next Katamari Damacy.
In the one level of the game that we've played, we bounced on hidden trampolines, bopped shadowy enemies off the map and sang a capella to wake up the moon. We hunted for hidden cactus-men, left our blobs alone and watched them yelp at each other and explored a rich, happy landscape bursting with color. LocoRoco exudes a level of charm seldom seen in a game, and the fact that it's a lot of fun at the same time makes us eager to see what else the game has in store. We're hoping to see new levels at E3, but we fully expect we'll have to fight off other attendees in order to actually play them.
See? Video games can cause violence.
There's always more...
To be honest, most of the mystique at E3 this year is surrounding the PlayStation 3. Even so, there will be more than a few surprises on the show floor for the PS2 and PSP. Some have been announced already - we're especially hoping to see something new on Bully, Rockstar Games' schoolyard-delinquent simulator. A glimpse of the next PSP Grand Theft Auto wouldn't be too bad, either. And while we're on the subject of free-roaming crime games, we also have it on good authority that a certain popular Mob family will put in an appearance on the PS2.
On a more family-friendly front, we've heard rumblings that Baito Hell, a bizarre Japanese puzzle game in the style of WarioWare, will bring ultra-weird twitch gameplay and muscle-man egg timers to US PSPs. Finally, you can expect Activision to announce a big surprise from Tony Hawk for the PS2; we can't say much, but it should appeal to a chunk of his fanbase that the last couple games all but ignored.