LocoRoco: Cocoreccho dissection

2008, July 27th 2:44 PM

LocoRoco: Cocoreccho

Developer: Sony

Completion level: Not even close

Spoilers: I'm not sure how this would be possible.

I just got a PS3.

What this means is that you may be bombarded with short dissections of short downloadable games. I might eventually make a post about the PS3 in general (summary: it's pretty dang awesome now and Microsoft's lunch is about to be eaten by Sony) but I may not.

The thing about small short games is that some of them are really really weird. Cocoreccho is an exception to this, mostly because I'm not entirely sure it's a game.

LocoRoco was originally a PSP game. You played the Earth, and tilted your surface to help a bunch of singing blobs defeat a small army of flying dreadlocked heads. I swear I am not making this up. If you think the gameplay sounds distinctive, the art style was even more so, consisting entirely of deformable solid-color 2d cutouts – on the PSP, no less, where most people were expecting gore and explosions. Add to that one of the most catchy and cheerful soundtracks I've heard in a long time (keep in mind your blobs sing along, with lipsynched animations, in chorus) and LocoRoco made Nintendo games look dull, stodgy, and moderately depressed.

It's a great game, and I highly recommend it. It's also a near-natural fit for the PS3's tilt sensor. All they had to do was port it over, add a bunch more levels, bam! Game!

What they actually made was, in the words of the lead developer, an "interactive screensaver".

You still have a large number of singing blobs (it wouldn't be a LocoRoco game without singing blobs) but instead of getting from one side of the linear level to another, you are instead exploring what can be best described as a humongous Thing. Its behavior will be familiar to anyone who's played the PSP game, as it includes spinny things, bouncy things, sloped things, things with holes, and every other joyous device that we're used to from the PSP game. Your goal is to move a magical butterfly around which attracts singing blobs, use that explore the Thing, find more singing blobs, and wake them up.

That's the game.

Unlike the PSP game, your little blobs have more autonomy than they did before. The Thing has several large "loops" of behavior in it, where the blobs will naturally wander down slops and jump into new areas with wind blowing them back up to the beginning, and your blobs will generally follow the loops on their own, meaning that even if you're not really paying attention they'll be wandering around the level without any help required. This is pretty dang neat – in many places you can just point the screen at a segment and let it sit while blobs fly through it. I'm pretty sure this is where the whole "interactive screensaver" part comes from.

Unfortunately, as a screensaver, it's a bit of a failure. You see, the screen itself doesn't move around. Wherever you leave it, that's what you're going to be looking at until you move it again. And while the blobs are largely self-motivating, the areas they travel through automatically aren't really particularly interesting. In order to make them do anything of interest, you have to not only control the butterfly manually, but you have to know where the interesting things are – making it impossible to just sit down and poke at it for a few minutes. Getting anywhere really interesting can easily take fifteen minutes to half an hour of work.

Which is a pity, because I think the idea of an interesting interactive screensaver that could be left on is a really cool one.

I'm going to diverge into philosophy here for a second. Games started as a thing that was Not Business. If you were using a computer for it, it was either Business or Games. It took quite a while for computers to be used seriously for any other sort of recreation (like reading blogs) and even then, it pretty much came down to Business, Games, or Communication.

We're finally moving into using computers for other things. Cocoreccho is something I would consider Art. It's clearly meant to be art, on some level. Unfortunately, it's art jammed into the mold of Game. The artistic things they could have done have been hampered by their desire to make something that should be both played and won. Which is, I have to say, sad. It could have been something More – but it isn't, and it won't be, because it's a game and it's proved unable to break out of the template of Game.

Cocoreccho is interesting. I'm not sure it's good. But it's interesting, and if what I've been talking about intrigues you, and you have a PS3, you might want to check it out.

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