LocoRoco Midnight Carnival

Yo soy loco por LocoRoco!

Despite the creepy title and intro video, LocoRoco Midnight Carnival brings us a bouncy, yet infuriatingly difficult, successor.
Author: Ryan Green
Published: November 22, 2009
Having never played a LocoRoco game before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Apart from the colorful blobs and weird Japanese songs, the series remained a mystery to me. If that describes you in any way, you might become discouraged to know that you are both missing out on one of the best PSP games of the year and unlikely to actually complete more than a few levels.


From what I've adventured back to play so far, the LocoRoco series is deceiving in its presentation. On the one hand, it looks very accessible due to its art style, but you will soon be slapped in the face when you progress through the game. LocoRoco Midnight Carnival surprisingly goes the extra step to make the game even more difficult, which often isn't the case for a sequel.

While the game doesn't have a story (don't lie, there is no story in this series), the premise is very familiar: maneuver your LocoRoco (a.k.a. happy blob) to the end of the level while avoiding pits and enemies. Along the way, collect items that will increase your health or put to use in the game's shop. While this sounds rather old-hat, the game relies on using L1 and R1 to shift the screen to move your LocoRoco. This, and the hop ability, is the returning controls for the game. What Midnight Carnival adds to the series is the "Boing!" ability, which is essentially a super jump. Truth be told, it is the most important ability that you have and it quickly becomes your only goal.

Every "Boing!" can be chained together for extra points and used to wall jump around each stage. Being that you are jumping and shifting the world, the controls become extremely satisfying as you combo up walls and over the countless deathtraps. Most of the time, as you will come to see, it is very difficult to pull of precision jumps to safety. If you die in the process of completing a level, you are given the option to restart from the last checkpoint (if any) that you crossed, but at a price. Picories (the games currency, so to speak) are normally spent on unlockable hats and extra goodies to help you complete the game, but they can be put towards continuing a level from a checkpoint. There is no penalty for starting from the beginning of the level, but it is sometimes best to sacrifice your money for the sake of progress.

The heart and soul of LocoRoco Midnight Carnival is the puzzle-platforming aspect that challenges and engages the player actively a lot more than other games do. Much like a survival horror game, your LocoRoco is perpetually near death and is vulnerable to a frustrating extant. That level of engagement results in a contented state of mind whenever you make the slightest amount of progress; be it taking out your first foe or finally besting a tricky jumping section. Your progress is rewarded in many ways, but that intrinsic feeling is what kept me playing, trophies be damned!

Although the gameplay is rewarding, the visuals and sounds also pay off for the player. Each stage has a nice variety in its design, although they may play in a pseudo-formulaic manner. The background artwork is both funky and fitting, and it is the nicest and smoothest art that I’ve seen the PSP render. Although I’d like to see the foreground artwork and character models be a little more clear and less jagged, it is far from be a deal breaker. LocoRoco’s soundtrack compliments each level with some great tunes. The music really brings each world to life even more than it is on screen, taking you further down the rabbit hole.

LocoRoco Midnight Carnival is certainly not for the faint of heart but can easily be appreciated by anyone whom is willing to look past the goofy faces and see the depth of gameplay. Collecting picories net you currency to unlock minigame modes and features, customization for your LocoRoco. Trying to net every item will take a huge chunk of time, and even still there is the entire game to play through and complete for best time, least amount of LocoRoco’s lost, adhoc multiplayer, etc. All of these extra modes and objectives do a lot to keep you playing, but the reward is seldom had. Even in if you can get three people to join you in multiplayer, there is no added challenge or even an advantage to doing so. It seems much more like a

Still, one shouldn’t look down at what is available in the game, as there is enough content to keep you playing for quite a while. The levels can be completed quickly and the minigames are a great way to get back at the LocoRoco’s for not jumping the way you wanted them to. Had there been more levels, less of a learning curve, and perhaps an actual story, LocoRoco Midnight Carnival would be a top recommendation. It is a good entry in the series and (with all of the loading and saving speeds in mind) a welcome addition to the PSP’s library.
The Verdict
8.0

A great point for new gamers to come in, as they will hopefully continue the series with "Boing!" included henceforth. A strong narrative and multiplayer would have only helped this game, but neither were really explored. A great portable title.

7.5Graphics:

Nothing overly fancy or mind-blowing, but very stylish. Some character designs are awkward or unclear on the PSP screen. More work could have gone into character models since not much is happening on screen at once. Excellent themes in every level.

9.0Sound:

A catchy musical score backed up by adorable Japanese voice work. I have no idea what they are singing about, but I love it!

8.0Control:

Difficult to master (and awkward with the PSPgo's screen closed) but rewarding in the end. There is a big learning curve with movement and it can be hard to tell how far is too far.

7.5Gameplay:

Great platforming, but not very forgiving especially for newcomers. A little more variety in level layouts would have been nice, as well as more minigames. Challenges and collecting add to the replay value.