Loco #2 – Platforming Puzzler

EduaOkay, here goes an attempt at doing something I haven’t done before. I spent quite a bit of time playing a game lately. Sure, I played it exclusively on stream, so it won’t be a surprise to a lot of people as to what game it is. But regardless, I’ve never really heard a lot of people talk about the game, and the game seems to have been marketed to victims of heavy pangs of nostalgia. Personally, I wasn’t in the “target market”, as I’ve never played the “original incarnation” of the game, nor its sequel.

Actual gameplay not pictured above, but it’s pretty darn close sometimes!

a boy and his blob for the Nintendo Wii is… well… it’s charming and challenging, in a nutshell! But from what I saw, mostly everyone that came in mentioned that the game brought back more memories rather than looking difficult. And I can’t blame them! The game’s graphics do make the game feel unearthly calming, and the mechanics aren’t that far off- the game features no dialogue aside from the boy blurting out almost exclusively monosyllabic phrases to the blob, and pressing up on the directional pad is reserved exclusively for hugging the blob.

The plot for the game is simple: alien blob thing crash lands on Earth, meets boy, boy helps blob thing traverse hundreds of levels. Without reading the instruction manual, you have no idea WHY the blob is there until you unlock a bookcase in the third world (that’d be somewhere around… 25 levels into the game, I believe, not counting unlockable challenge levels- the game is 40 levels long, 80 if you count the short challenge levels). Even when you find out the reason behind his visit, it’s the typical “power hungry despot threatens all” plot. Except this despot’s a black blob.

About that. The game’s challenges are also quite typical. The boy is, like most children, people, and me, quite fragile. Falls from great heights onto flat-non-flexible-surfaces (or into pits with no visible bottom), onto spikes, into water- without a flotation device, and being crushed by a heavy or pointy object are fatal (in a non-graphically violent way) to him. Of course, aside from these natural hazards, the boy also has to watch out for the main villain’s subordinates- smaller black blobs in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, of the which not all are vulnerable to the blob’s transformations, but are usually taken care of or driven away through the use of these powers and some quick thinking. Sadly, these enemies are occasionally accompanied by jellybean eating birds, which basically means that you can’t turn the blob into something useful around these. Thing will sometimes seem hopeless due to these weird looking birds.

All of these creatures, aside from bosses, look absolutely adorable and non-threatening. If it wasn’t for the slightest graze resulting in the boy doubling over with a dramatic chord in the background, you’d almost think you could jump on them with Goomba-stomping confidence. The bosses themselves are also “cute”, in a way, though the complexity of their “puzzles” and the nature of the patterns they follow will cause you some frustration. But that’s what a boss is supposed to do, at least until you understand the trick to beating them! And this game feels rewarding every single time you understand what’s going on.

Now that you’re familiar with what the game will throw at you, you can understand the nature of the game a little better- it is a platforming puzzle game. You require more critical thinking than quick reflexes, though having more of the latter can make up for the lack of the former. It is occasionally possible to muscle your way through a puzzle or skip a step entirely if you understand how to take full advantage of your blob’s powers and the boy’s movements, to the point where it might even be possible to speed-run the game. The game is generous with checkpoints outside of challenge levels, where the levels are relatively short but no checkpoints are offered during play, and there is an unlimited amount of retries. The game also auto-saves after beating each level- it might also auto-save if one leaves a cleared level early after collecting a treasure chest (3 in each level, with which players can unlock a challenge level).

The game’s graphics, again, are charming. And this is where they went overboard with the nostalgia- after 10 levels, people who have played or seen the first incarnation of a boy and his blob for the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom will recognize the references to the original. I believe that was the biggest nostalgic moment for me within the game. From what I understand, it is largely different from the original- whereas you would originally have to purchase jellybeans, you are now offered an infinite supply per level of the “bare necessity” beans you will need to beat each particular stage, with challenge levels taking “bare necessity” to the furthest extreme.

I greatly enjoyed the game. I recommend others give it a shot and play it when they have the money to spare and can’t think of a good title to add to their Wii collection. Puzzle lovers should be especially interested. If I had to use two games to describe a boy and his blob (Wii) as their offspring, I’d say Drawn to Life’s puzzles, charm, and simplistic plot combined with Metroid’s puzzles and exploration. Just a warning- similarly to Drawn to Life (and to an extent, Metroid), the game can play with your emotions, and its charm may lead you to feel and become attached to the characters.

A couple of last things: It’s totally worth it to play all the way to the last two levels. Totally. Worth. It. Also, pressing down on the control pad “scolds” the blob, making him sit still and wait for you in place. If you feel this might help you out in a puzzle, go ahead and try it- I never deemed it necessary, however. Happy gaming!

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2 Responses to “Loco #2 – Platforming Puzzler”

  1. Good review~

    I still love the fact you’re doing a flying kick out of the blob cannon.

  2. Nice review.

    The more I hear about the game, the more I want to try it.

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