When the original Loco Roco hit the PSP back in the summer of 2006, it was met with critical praise but a mixed reaction from gamers. The gameplay, art style, and music all smacked of originality and charm — but charm could only go so far. The world-tilting gameplay suffered from a bit of staleness by the end of the game for some. Most levels — while visually different — played too similar for some gamers likings. As well, a number of vocal opponents of the game argued that the gameplay was too simple to hold their interest.

Now, nearly three years later, Sony Computer Entertainment has seen fit to deliver us a sequel. But does it address the concerns of the original, or is it more of the same?

The answer is kind of a mixed bag. While the core gameplay elements remain the same (tilt the world with the L & R buttons), a good deal of variety in level design and abilities has really remedied the “rather, rinse, repeat” of the first games stage design. That being said, if the core gameplay elements didn’t appeal to you the first time around there’s nothing in Loco Roco 2 that’s going to change that. But for those of you that enjoyed the first title — especially those of you that got tired of the recycled gameplay by the end — you’re going to love everything Loco Roco 2 has to offer.

The first thing you’ll notice when you boot up LR2 for the first time is the increased focus on story. Loco Roco 2’s levels are often based on narrative situation rather than linear completion. You may need to gather enough Loco’s to move a boulder off your friend, or go into the belly of a penguin to undo the damage the Mojo’s have done. The stories in LR2 are a perfect compliment to the quirky art style and gameplay elements that we’ve all gotten used to, and they add some much needed context to the gameplay to keep things interesting.

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The stage design itself has improved greatly since we last visited the world of the Loco’s. Each level seems to present a different environment with it’s own twists in physics that change things up. On one level you may be in an arctic environment slipping and sliding all over the place, on another you may be inside someone’s body dealing with the spongy mushiness of a creatures innards. It’s not often you’ll find yourself playing in the same environment in consecutive stages.

The stages are frequently broken up by boss battles or mini-games, many of which you can revisit after completion. Each of these plays a little different from what you’re used to and offers a refreshing break from the main game. One mini-game may have you betting on a Loco Roco race while another has you controlling a Mui Mui in a game of Loco Roco Whack-a-Mole. It’s nice to have something break up the gameplay and I’m delighted to say it all seems to be a good fit for what’s offered.

Loco Roco 2 also offers some pokemon-style collectathon gameplay for those of you looking for reasons to revisit the game once you’ve played through. Collecting pieces for the Mui Mui House (as you did in the first game) has returned, as well as a Loco Stamp game that has you fitting unlocked stamps into empty holes in pictures, sort of like a children’s jigsaw. Fit the duck in the duck shaped hole — that sort of thing. It’s great incentive to return to the world once you’ve seen everything there is to see in the main game.

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Loco Roco 2 isn’t likely to turn around the haters from the first game, but if you had enjoyed Loco Roco for even the briefest of moments before putting it down, you’re going to want to pick this up. It’s the game we all wanted Loco Roco to be in the first place, and a great addition to the PSP line-up.

Loco Roco 2 is available now for the PlayStation Portable for the retail price of $19.99.