The genius of Tsutomu Kouno's LocoRoco concept is that its gameplay hasn't been forced, like a square peg to a round hole, into the confines of the the PSP's control system, like so many first-person and third-person titles are. The L and R buttons are used to tilt the beautiful 2D game world and the Circle button is used for everything else. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Some will say LocoRoco 2 is too similar to 2006's brilliant original, and with good reason. Essentially it's the same game with different levels and a few gameplay tweaks, but then revolutionising the fundamentals that made the Sony Japan Studio developed title such a perfect fit on the PSP would have run the risk of ruining it. And anyway, its charm, beauty and uplifting nature is just as potent a second time around, even if you've felt it all before.
If the word LocoRoco sounds like a particularly uncomfortable pirate-related disease to you, allow us to explain. The LocoRocos are a race of small, singing bubble type creatures who, along with the Mui Mui, care dearly for their planet's well being. The Moja are an evil alien race hell bent on ruining the loveliness of the LocoRoco's planet. You play the planet, weirdly enough, and are able to tilt it left and right (using the PSP's L and R buttons), combining gravity and momentum to move the LocoRoco about the 2D environment. Pressing and releasing the L and R buttons together causes the LocoRoco to jump - the longer you hold the buttons down, the higher the jump will be. While this might sound a little constrictive, and, at first it does feel a little odd, after ten minutes it becomes second nature and all memory of awkward analogue nub controls melts away like one of LocoRoco's trademark invisible walls.
Although the plot plays a secondary role to the platforming, effort has been made to tell a story through charming cut scenes, so we'll give it a paragraph. Following their defeat to the LocoRoco in the original game, the Moja army returns to its home planet determined to get revenge. Moja boss Bonmucho, having concocted a new song that sucks the life force from any living thing, launches a fresh invasion on the LocoRoco planet, forcing the environmentally conscious bouncing balls to once again beat them back.
As in the first game, each level is as much a collect-a-thon as it is a captivating puzzler. There's simply loads to collect. Most obviously, you seek out the 20 berries hidden throughout each level, each one making the LocoRoco grow. By tapping the Circle button you'll trigger a bolt of lightning that causes the LocoRoco to split into a number of smaller LocoRoco, allowing them to pass through tiny cracks in the environment and reach new areas. By holding Circle, the LocoRoco will call out to each other, inching closer until they are one again. Finding all 20 berries in each level, some of which are incredibly well hidden, is your primary motivation.
Unlike the first game, however, the little cuties now face a genuine threat. There are more enemies than before, including spiky creatures, long-tongued plants, stinging bees, blowfish, Bui Bui (the anti-Mui Mui) as well as floating Moja. Touching one of these where you shouldn't will cause a LocoRoco to eject from the main blob in panic - if you don't chase it down you'll lose it for the rest of the level.