Sunday, August 14, 2016

Game 26: Adventures of Lolo

Look at that avant-garde title screen, my friend. Those blues and pinks and weird modern design. Like so many title screens, it is not at all representative of the actual game, Adventures of Lolo, AKA Lolo, AKA That Game With The Little Blue Fella Who Was Also In Kirby A Bunch Of Times.

But it is a beautiful title screen, no?

I really can't get over this amazing cubist interpretation of Lolo. The blues and pinks especially - the whole thing is really quite beautiful. I really could just stop writing now so we could all stare at the Lolo title screen forever and ever. But, you know me, I'll be pressing on until this horse is as dead as they come.

Adventures of Lolo was a game released on the NES in 1989 by HAL Laboratories, better known for creating Kirby. As alluded to above, Lolo (and his compatriot in arms, Lala) are better known for cameo-ing in many Kirby games as bosses, usually renamed to Lololo and Lalala.

(I actually think Lololo and Lalala are Lolo and Lala's children, and they couldn't come up with names so they just threw an extra L syllable on there, but to explain the detailed connection between the Lolo and Kirby universes I'd have to draw you a diagram and nobody has time for that.)

Look at this precious animation while you contemplate the ramifications of a Lolo and Lala legacy
My parents were both in love with the original Lolo game on the NES, which if I remember correctly had exactly one irritating song. Coincidentally, I was whistling this song to myself about 2 days ago. I was never that impressed with the game, to be honest, but I understand the appeal. Apparently enough people fell in love for it to get 2 sequels.

The Lolo games are essentially Sokoban-likes, in which you push blocks and collect things. The twist is that there are also a lot of action-oriented things going on as well, so not only is Lolo solving puzzles, he's managing timing and the motion of baddies. I always find this combination to be slightly tedious - usually I will see a solution to a puzzle but be unable to carry it out because (a) I'm impatient and (b) I'm bad at video games.

The Game Boy release of Adventures of Lolo is not a port of the NES game - it's actually a sequel. And it does exactly one interesting thing...but we'll get to that later.

This is not the interesting thing
Otherwise, the game is exactly the same as the NES ones - push some blocks, turn enemies into eggs, and get all the hearts.

Oh, did I mention that Lolo can turn enemies into eggs?

That used to be a snake. Now it's an egg (again)
Yes, one of Lolo's special powers is that he can turn enemies into eggs, then shoot them off the screen. Some hearts will grant him 2 shots of...whatever you shoot to turn things into eggs. It's a key part of the game, and it can get pretty complicated. For example, in this puzzle:

Lolo has to trap those demon buddies using the snakes as eggs. The demon buddies will shoot Lolo if he lines up with them in any of the four cardinal directions, and he will definitely super die. The eggs will block the shots, as well as the boulders, but the trees won't. It's not super hard but honestly it took me way too many tries to figure out (the left one has to be trapped in the very bottom corner (duh))

You can also use the eggs as temporary bridges, weirdly enough, although they sink into the water very quickly. There are other powers doled out in some levels, such as a hammer that Lolo can use to break blocks, and a baby that he can feed to the snakes to make them gigantic and crush all the other bad guys, then recite a Shakespearean soliloquy (I made up one of those powerups).

It's all...fine, I guess. I don't have any real love for the series because I just don't have the patience to play the games. I guess the Game Boy game is slightly more interesting, because instead of the typical Save the Princess plot of the first one, you are, uh, convincing Lolo and Lala to play music by solving puzzles??? No, I'm not sure either. But check out this amazing intro:
And finally, Drum and Bass!!!
I love that whoever translated this to English saw the Koto and decided to translate it to the genre of "Oriental." Amazing.

Anyway, here's the flow of the game: Lolo solves some puzzles, I take a drink, Lolo solves some more puzzles, I drink some more, I eventually pass out and drool on my desk. Lolo doesn't solve any more puzzles, my wife leaves me for Lolo who is honestly much more effective than I am, I drink some more, and then I die.

Right. Not much different than any other Sokoban game.

But the game does do one very interesting thing: The music is (sort of) procedurally generated.

I only noticed it when I was writing some notes and the same 2 seconds of music kept playing over and over. At first I thought it was the emulator, but then I noticed that the music will stay the same whenever Lolo is standing in the same spot. It appears that there are a number of pre-composed bits of a song, a la Peggle, and it only changes to other bits when Lolo moves. Pretty interesting! I recorded a video of it in action for you:

So that's kind of neat! 

But otherwise it's very much not-my-kind-of-game, and I don't have anything else to say about it. I played about 15 levels and turned it off. In lieu of saying anything else, here's a gif.

I love these animated screenshots.

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