Tuesday 25April 2006
The challenge for PSP developers has been one of scale, a struggle to shoehorn console-quality gameplay into the more limited capabilities of the portable hardware, so it's interesting to see Sony itself taking precisely the opposite tack, and making good on the industry's tried, tested and long-overdue love affair with simplicity.
That simplicity is evident in every aspect of LocoRoco. Apart from the obvious control scheme, which utilises little more than the shoulder buttons to tilt the world beneath LocoRoco's liquid posterior, it also extends into the make-up of the world itself. SCEI has reduced the environments into their superflat essentials - weight, velocity, shape and pure shocks of crayon-box colour - then given it life by introducing irresistible emoticon charm.
What's surprising is how much Sony seems ready to do with so little. Just two dots and a downward curved line give the LocoRoco all the pathos and vulnerability it needs to bring about the underlying tension, especially coupled with the knowledge that with such indirect control, every 10-degree tilt needs to be carefully considered.
But that's not to imply tedium: after settling into the game's restrictions, a rigorous and satisfying sense of rhythm and pacing takes hold, both your own and in the labyrinthine levels' bursts of hands-off rollercoaster sequences that whip the hapless Locos to otherwise unreachable destinations.