Friday 31 January 2020

Adventures of Lolo (NES review)

Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: HAL Laboratory
Released: 1989

Adventures of Lolo is a puzzle game that received two sequels on the NES in 1990 and 1991.

As Prince Lolo, you must save the country of Eden by rescuing Princess Lala and defeating the evil Great Devil. There's 50 stages (split up into 10 floors) and the objective in each is to collect all the hearts, collect the jewel from the chest and then reach the exit. Enemies can be foiled by trapping them with blocks or by shooting them with your limited Magic Shots. The game doesn't always stick to the puzzle genre and instead includes action elements such as enemies that chase you once you've collected the last heart; this ramps up the tension and gets you thinking strategically to block foes in beforehand. The basic mechanics are easy to get into, but I like how other ideas are slowly introduced such as charging enemies and ladders that help you cross rivers. It also has a perfect difficulty curve by easing in new players and then gradually increasing the challenge. The 50 stages take a while to beat, but a handy password feature is available. What's great is that some later levels look deceptively simple, only for an unforeseen barrier to present itself and get you thinking in a completely lateral way. In particular, learning that you can block side-by-side enemies with a singular block is a clever way of getting the player thinking about how to use every object at their disposal. There are some control quirks though where you'll push an enemy into the water to act as a platform, only for the game to refuse to let you jump on. The music is catchy, but there's only one track in the whole game. Also, the ending is anticlimactic, as the battle against the Great Devil only plays out as a brief cut-scene.

Adventures of Lolo is a top-tier puzzle game and the amount of creativity in its level design and enemy characters is simply outstanding. If you're a fan of Kickle Cubicle (1990, NES) definitely give this game a try, as it features the same kind of addictive 'easy to pick up, but hard to master' gameplay.

Random trivia: The game was re-released on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console in 2007 and on the Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console in 2014.

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