LocoRoco Midnight Carnival Review: Up All Night

Sony brings LocoRoco back to the PSP with a new game play interface and a late night look in LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival.

The mischievous Bui Bui have interrupted the LocoRoco's slumber and sent them into a midnight maze. While the previous LocoRoco games had players roll and bounce, the new mechanic in Midnight Carnival is boing — a type of super jump that can be strung together as combos as the LocoRoco boing off walls and out of the midnight carnival.

But is it worth staying up for LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival?

Loved
Presentation: Like its predecessors, LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival is a visual treat. The Halloween look is a feast for the eyes, and Sony's Japan Studio has really outdone themselves with the crisp lines and smooth frame rates. The game's artistic flare is a pleasing take on a familiar look.

Music: A close second behind the way the game looks is the way it sounds. The music, while not as annoyingly catchy as the first game, is, well, annoyingly catchy — but in a good way! LocoRoco has always been a fine example of showing off the PSP's strengths (visual and audio) and Midnight Carnival once again proves why.

Bui Bui Crane: Midnight Carnival has a couple of mini-games, and this one is a doozy. It's a crane game where the object is to snag LocoRocos. The catch? The LocoRocos are afraid of the crane and try to move out of the way, causing them to bunch up in the corner. A clever homage to arcade crane games and endlessly entertaining.

Hated
Difficulty Curve: The game starts off pleasantly enough, and then suddenly gets nasty and mean. LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival? More like Nightmare Carnival. The stages are short and should take a couple of minutes to finish — yet, I found myself playing some stages for upwards of thirty minutes to an hour, dying over and over and over again. It feels like the difficulty was increased to pad out the game length.

Boing: Hate it, hate it, hate it. Bring back rolling and regular bounce. The controls didn't feel exactly precise, making some of the jump combinations players are expected to do seem unreasonable — if not horribly sadistic, at times. The screen rotating mechanic is not fast, but the boing mechanic is, making for gameplay that doesn't quite seem to fit together.

Midnight Carnival is an interesting experiment for Sony's Japan Studio — it tried out some new things, some worked and some did not. But, let's go back to the LocoRoco games we know and love: You know, the ones which let players actually relax while playing them and even crack a smile, instead of hair-pulling frustration.

For those who like to be challenged or want to try their hand at a hard platformer, may we recommend LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival. For those who want to play a LocoRoco game, may we recommend LocoRoco or LocoRoco 2.

LocoRoco: Midnight Carnival was developed by Sony's Japan Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PSP on October 29. Retails for $14.99 USD on the PSP and PSN. A digital copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played game to completion.