LocoRoco Midnight Carnival
A short but sweet journey into darkness.
Oh, those crazy LocoRoco. Just when you think their adventure is over, along comes a new tale that keeps them rolling. They already appeared in two great PlayStation Portable adventures, and now Sony has a third available for download through the PlayStation Network. Even though it isn't as lengthy as its predecessors, LocoRoco Midnight Carnival is still worth checking out, especially if you're a fan.
As your game begins, the LocoRoco sleep peacefully in their village. (And they're so cute doing it.) None of them take notice of a snarky little BuiBui (an evil version of the MuiMui, a little critter that hops around like crazy), who flips a switch and suddenly sends them tumbling into his dark, dingy underworld. In order to make their way back home, you'll have to choose from one of several LocoRoco and roll them to safely, but be careful. Time works against you in Midnight Carnival, so you'll need to complete each stage as quickly as possible.
To do this, the folks at Sony Computer Entertainment of Japan threw in a cool new play mechanic called Boing. It involves jumping and moving at an accelerated rate, using accurately timed button presses. If you execute it just right, you'll increase your multiplier and leave a rainbow-colored vapor trail, boosting your speed as you skyrocket over platforms and move closer to the goal. It's a nifty little feature, although people used to the slower style of play may not like it.
LocoRoco Midnight Carnival also has a bigger emphasis on platforming. You'll need to jump across gaps, avoid spikes and bonk Moja out of harm's way, all while keeping a close eye on how many Locos you gathered. The same great gameplay is still here, with the L and R shoulder buttons tilting which way the planet leans so you can move along. In addition, you can still break up into smaller Locos by pressing the circle button, then re-gather them once you get through crevices. Combining this with the Boing mechanic will take time, especially for younger players. However, once you adapt, you'll find it's a wonderful addition.
Speaking of great additions, two new mini-games await you in Midnight Carnival. A crane game challenges you to catch specific LocoRocos using a giant claw (as you would in any given arcade or Chuck E. Cheese's). It's challenging, since they keep moving around on top of each other, and there's a possibility of grabbing the wrong one. The second mini-game is a variation of Pachinko, where you shoot a Loco across a series of pegs in order to land in a specific slot on the bottom. These games are great fun. We only wish there were more of them.
Along with the single-player mode (which consists of 16 levels), Midnight Carnival also has multiplayer for up to four people through AdHoc. These are mostly just racing stages, but they're more fun than we expected. Over the course of each race, you'll actually be able to keep tabs of others with ghosts on your screen, although they have no effect on your momentum.
If you've played previous LocoRoco adventures, you shouldn't be surprised by this game's presentation. The music, once again, is delightfully weird, a compilation of groovy little beats. The sound effects are minimal, but it's kind of funny to hear Locos warn you about threats in a loud, whiny voice. The visuals, meanwhile, look beautiful, with Jell-O animations for the main characters and a series of beautiful (albeit dark) stages.
The price clocks in at $15, just a little bit under what LocoRoco 2 currently sells for. Still, it's totally worth it. While Midnight Carnival ends too soon, it's a smile-inducing side trip that's worth downloading on your PSP or PSP Go.
What's Hot: Reasonably priced at $15, looks and sounds just as delightful as previous games in the series, the new Boing gameplay mechanic works, the Pachinko and crane mini-games are delightful inclusions, decent multiplayer.
What's Not: Shorter than previous LocoRoco games, some of the challenges may drive younger fans bonkers.