The Adventures of Lolo
Ever have one of those lazy Sundays? Not a Chronicles of Narina Sunday, but a really lazy ‘I can barely keep my eyes open because I’m so tired and it’s rainy and dark out and blahhhhh’ kind of Sunday? I just did. Like any other Nintendophile would do in this situation, I fired up the NES. I dug out, of all things, THE ADVENTURES OF LOLO. Say wha? I did say it was a lazy Sunday didn’t I?
The Adventures of Lolo (or Lolo for short) was released in 1989 for the NES by Hal Laboratory. It’s a puzzle game similar to Boxxle. The main character, Prince Lolo, has actually starred in several games by Hal Laboratory, but these were previously released in Japan for the MSX and Famicom. American audiences only first met Lolo in this game. He has the appearance of a blue bowling ball with a tail, big cartoony eyes, hands, and feet. In this game his girlfriend, Princess Lala (similar in appearance to Lolo, but pink, with a bow of course) has been kidnapped by the Great Devil. Lolo goes off on a quest to rescue her from the Great Devil’s Haunted Castle, but he must make his way through each room in the castle to reach her.
Each room is actually a puzzle, where Lolo must collect little blocks with a heart icon, called heart framers. Once all the heart framers in a given room are collected, a chest located in the room will open, revealing a jewel, that you must collect in order to open the exit. On the surface this sounds easy but tedious, right? Wrong. Of course, there’s a bunch of creatures who will do their best to stop you, either by outright killing you or trapping you, forcing you to give up a life and start the room again. Some, like the innocent looking Snakey, are actually stationary creatures who block your movement. Others, like the oddly smiling Medusa will kill you with a death stare if you are in their direct vertical or horizontal line of sight. Actually, they all look like they came from a weird Saturday morning cartoon.
Occasionally you’ll obtain a Magic Shot, which allows you to encase an enemy in an egg, which then can be either moved around or shoved off into the water and boarded like a raft. Shoot the egg again, and it disappears for a short time until the enemy magically reappears in its original position. Other times you may stumble on a hammer, allowing you to smash a rock, or even a bridge, which may be used to cross water. There’s five lives per game attempt, and infinite continues, along with an uncomplicated password system to save your progress. The levels get more complicated the further along you go into the Castle. You’ll not only need to collect things in the proper sequence, but time it all properly as well. Maybe this is more of an action puzzle game?
The graphics in Lolo are all tile based, like most adventure/RPG games of the time, so you’ll be seeing the same sprites for the duration of the game. Luckily, they are decent for a NES game released in 1989, with the characters all having a fun, cartoonish look.All of the rooms are in fact, square.Poor Rocky, he looks like he’s a few fries short of a happy meal. The screen is divided into a status section and a view of the current room. The sounds in Lolo are fun and match with the visuals of the game, and the musical score is great. It’s a good thing, as it’s constant. Days later and I’m still humming it at work. Maybe that Smooth McGroove guy could do a cover of the music from Lolo.
Lolo can only move in four cardinal directions, and only at one speed. A walking speed that is actually slower than some enemies, like Leeper or Skull. You’re forced to out smart them, not outrun them. Lolo is not limited to walking a full tile length with each movement as if the room were a checkerboard, and this fact must be exploited in several levels. I always like a game with a legit pause feature that I can walk away from, and Lolo has one, as well as the aforementioned password. Lolo has the bonus of having an actual ending sequence which is actually above average, beating such things as “GAME OVER YOU WIN”.
Lolo is part of a series which has not seen a console release in almost 20 years. The series sort of tapered off in the 90’s with a release for the Game Boy and a few Windows releases that I suspect no one played. The last one of those came out in 2001. Lolo is on the Wii Virtual Console so that covers the original release, but seriously, doesn’t the Wii U need some new games? Hello? HAL?
Open the pod bay doors! Get going on a reboot! In the mean time, if you’re looking for a puzzle game to suck up a few hours, give The Adventures of Lolo the fair shake.