Enemies of the yellow, tuneful and squishy, look away now: LocoRoco's back, but can it revolutionise 2D platforming a second time?
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Like its predecessor, LocoRoco 2 is about rolling groups of up to twenty highly malleable, singing jellybaby heads from one point to another by tilting the very landscape beneath them. Left trigger tips the terrain left, right trigger tips it right, and flicking both at once rebounds your LocoRoco upwards to clear obstacles and ascend platforms. Holding the circle button fuses the happy critters into one easily controllable, super-sized specimen, while tapping it jolts them and the audio to pieces, that joyous Tellytubby vocal solo fragmenting into an assortment of supporting parts.
It's a deferred platformer, in short, a game in which you manipulate a character's surroundings rather than the character itself. The LocoRoco are semi-autonomous entities, bouncing off towards points of interest whenever you let the controls rest, and piling up into an ecstatic, quivering mound at the end of each level. They're also quite passive, fortunately, only going against your gravity-dependent guidance if they spot something you haven't, such as a wall they can break by bouncing against it, or one of the plentiful hidden passages screened Sonic-the-Hedgehog-style by foreground scenery.
While the fundamentals here are much as they were in 2006 - eat red fruits to swell your numbers, collect everything that isn't nailed down and steer clear of the flying, dreadlocked Moja - the LocoRoco are slightly more able this time round. They can swim underwater (oxygen doesn't appear to be a factor) and work themselves into crannies to uncover new items, access secret chambers or trigger a straightforward beat-matching mini-game. The Moja return with some fresh moves, too. In between making off with individual LocoRoco and chowing them down, they've learned to sing. Moja music doesn't seem especially unpleasant to our ears, but it does generate clouds of noxious, wildlife-subduing gas which have to be broken up (as with ninety per cent of the game's obstacles) by catapulting your LocoRoco into them.
Doing so releases musical notes, one of LocoRoco 2's many, many breeds of collectable. As before, there are different types of bugs, some used as currency for the mini-games, while other, starred varieties contain new materials and props for the Mui Mui house. Yes, the Mui Muis are back - a trio of these weird little blue men are tucked away in the guts of every level, and once you've teased them out of hiding they'll toddle off to live in a house accessible (and customisable) from the world map. There are also Bui Buis, rust-red corruptions of the Mui Muis who hare around later areas in rocket ships, throwing cartoon bombs at the inhabitants.