Adventures of Lolo (1989)

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lolo (LOH-loh): Feeble-minded, crazy, stupid.” -Hawaiian dictionary

 

 

Growing up, this game had extra meaning for me for two reasons. One, I was raised in Hawaii where the definition above applied (“pakalolo” means Marijuana, which was popular out there), and two, I was too stupid to get very far in a game called “Adventures of Stupid”, coincidentally. I could not beat this game until I was an adult, when I discovered that this really is an exemplary puzzle title for the NES.

From the creators of acclaimed games like Kirby’s Adventure, Super Smash Bros., and Pokemon Snap comes Adventures of Lolo! It was released in 1989 and again in 2007 on the Wii Virtual Console, and it was followed up by two sequels. Lolo is a small blueberry creature who will be your main character throughout the game’s many and confusing stages. The cover art may depict him as some kind of thief, stealing a golden key from that nice old lady with the dentures problem in the background, but Lolo is actually just a man trying to find true love.adventures_of_lolo_box_eu
The story begins with Lolo and Lala (who is evidently a princess) having a heckuva time outside. Suddenly, a malicious hand swoops down and princess-nabs Lala. Why? Because the man is always tryna get you down. It’s a giant blue toad creature, floating menacingly in the sky. Lolo pursues the villain to its fortress, where it’s revealed that the monster is in fact the Great Devil (who else?).castle

Your mission is to navigate the castle’s floors and, of course, rescue the princess so you can share some passionate love together again, you little blue fuzzball, you.lolo.pngAs a puzzle game, Adventures of Lolo excels because of simple components which on their own are very easy to understand. Lolo’s controls are easy to learn as well. He can move across the floor, as seen from your top down perspective, and if he picks up enough heart blocks then he can shoot bubbles to entrap or dismiss enemies from the stage a limited amount of times. He can push some objects, like entrapped enemies and green blocks, or ride on moving platforms, but there’s no jumping or magic or attacking with a sword, or anything like that. Fairly straightforward stuff.

A few of the earliest obstacles Lolo encounters will be the various textures of the stages themselves: trees, rocks, dirt, bridges, water. Some of these will play different roles in navigating later on. For example, you cannot pass through trees or rocks, but only rocks will block enemy projectiles where trees do not.

adventures-of-lolo

Room 1 of 1,000,000,000,000.

The first enemy you encounter is something like a caterpillar. It doesn’t attack, it simply blocks the path to the exit door. Collecting the first heart block will get you two shots of your bubble entrapping ability, which you must use to entrap the caterpillar and either push it out of your way or shoot it again to blast it into oblivion. By the way if you take too long then enemies removed from the stage in this manner will eventually return. But then you can collect the last heart block, which opens the treasure chest. Collecting the treasure opens the doorway to the next stage. Each stage plays out to that formula: collect the hearts, open the treasure chest, get to the door. Easy right?

pinkdino

Pink fireballs pass through trees. First grade physics.

But there are other enemies, many of which come to life once you collect the last heart block and attempt to reach the treasure. Pink dinosaurs activate shoot balls of fire directly in front of them. Skulls activate and roam around the room at high speeds in search of you. Gray needle-heads (real names below) are always active and will kill you if you cross their line of sight. Sleeper goblins bounce about the stage and will fall asleep if they touch you, blocking your path. Animated stone slabs meander and rush at you, attempting to form walls around you, again, barring you from the exit.Lolo_1
Alone, each of these enemies and features are simple but it’s when later levels combine these components together that things become hideously difficult. The stages will play out like logic puzzles replete with catch-22’s and bridge-burning and strategy.

Seriously, you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time examining advanced stages to plan out your mode of approach. And even then, expect to try and fail many attempts, especially when stages require precise timing or extreme forethought. Despite its smiley graphics, Adventures of Lolo is much to advanced for kids unless you were a child prodigy.

Adventures of Lolo (U) [!]-4

“Watch out for the Medusa–dangit. Maybe if I just push–dangit. I guess I could try to reach that–dangit. Okay I got thi–DANGit!”

 

The 8-Bit Review
visual Visuals:
7/101969_2For the NES, Adventures of Lolo had some well-defined graphics and textures, especially when compared to contemporary puzzle games on the system. It’s not as ugly as, say, Puzznic or Solomon’s Key. I mean, it’s not like Lolo’s the Sistine Chapel or anything but it has some funny little sprite animations in it. When Lolo dies it looks like it actually physically hurts. I think what pushes Adventures of Lolo into the realm of successful graphics that are not horrific to look at nowadays is the fact that its uses a combination of bright and drab colors, and not just all garish, chemical, neon colors like some games back then did. Just look at the menu screen for NES’s Lemmings, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. lolo-1
audio Audio:
3/10
Music might be the only thing in Adventures of Lolo that faced major criticism. The main stage theme below plays through almost the entire game, and it loops in less than 30 seconds. It’s bubbly and circusey and trying really hard to sound fun, which it is, but fun spelled backwards is “nuf” and after a few stages you will have had quite “e-nuf”.

gameplay Gameplay: 8/10
Press select to kill yourself. No, this isn’t a senseless internet insult. You’ll need to do it in this game on occasion. Not all of the enemies in the game are out to murder you. Many are just out to trap you in corners and on narrow walkways. Or you’ll likely get yourself stuck somehow eventually. That’s when you’ll need to hit select to restart the stage. Adventures of Lolo’s puzzles are about trial and error if you don’t do the proper forethinking, so expect to restart a lot. Block-pushing is the main gameplay element and the strongest tool in Lolo’s arsenal. Many games have emulated it since, but Adventures of Lolo was one of those that wore it best. As mentioned, the gameplay makes for some pretty solid logic puzzles.

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Figuring out how to block the skulls with green blocks before they activate is the only way to ensure Lolo’s survival in this room: 42 out of 1,000,000,000,000.

accessibility Accessibility: 10/10
There are enough levels to easily teach you how to use Lolo’s mechanics, and you’ll encounter new challenging components step by step. The game doesn’t hold your hand, since there are no spoken tutorials, but a lot of its puzzles are intuitive and you can pick up on how enemies hinder you quickly. In this respect, Lolo was lightyears away from some other puzzle games. It can be played without a manual, without tutorial, without dialogue. Like Tetris, the definitive puzzle game, Adventures of Lolo is tremendously accessible.

Adventures of Lolo (J)

Same enemies and obstacles as the first stage, only now there’s just more of them.

diff Challenge: 9/10
I hope I’ve made it clear just how hard this game is. I understand that Nintendo wanted to “stretch kids’ imaginations” but I hold that this game is just too difficult for kiddies to get fully engaged with it. Maybe that was the marketing mistake that kept Adventures of Lolo in the realm of “obscure titles”, with HAL Laboratory abandoning Lolo for Kirby. When comparing the two franchises, the blue puzzle puff for the pink vacuum puff, it’s really night and day in terms of difficulty. Lolo may be one of the hardest accessible NES puzzlers you could play while Kirby’s Adventure would be one of the easiest side-scrollers on the same system.lolo2-04
replay Replayability:
9/10
Even revisiting it for this review made it difficult to put down. It’s replay value is hard to describe. Maybe it’s because its individual stages are short and easy to complete (at first). Maybe its because it moves along a decent pace for a puzzle game. Maybe its because of the timelessness of its riddling levels, and you’ll tell yourself “just one more” after feeling good for solving each one. Maybe its because you never get tired of that looping circus music. Or maybe its because you really want to watch Lolo and Lala kiss, you perv.

tll

Totally looks like.

unique Uniqueness: 6/10
The NES had no shortage of puzzle games, even from the top down perspective. Adventures of Lolo really has no reason to stand out. And as we’ve seen, it was obscure so it really didn’t stand out at all. So while it didn’t contribute to the puzzle scene much, it’s chief distinctive trait was its block-pushing stage layout that adequately challenged the gray matter of the mind. In other words, Lolo is an above average puzzle game because it was uniquely well-designed.

Adventures_of_Lolo_NES_19

Watch your line of sight.

pgrade My Personal Grade: 7/10
Adventures of Lolo is a good combination of puzzle-challenge and puzzle-frustration. It was never a throw-your-controller-at-the-tv-and-then-break-your-favorite-coffee-mug kind of a game. Though difficult, I never felt like pulling my hair out. It seemed fair to me, and if I died it was justice that killed me. It was my stupid mistake. It’s not like something was too hard to understand.

This is a highly addictive and accessible puzzler, and may be one of the best in its genre on the original Nintendo. I’ll recommend it for its simplicity and intellectual challenge. Who knew a game called “Adventures of Stupid” would be so smart?
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Aggregated Score:
7.4

https://thewellredmage.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/buybutton.png?w=788

 

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18 thoughts on “Adventures of Lolo (1989)

  1. The third iteration of this series holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t play the first or second until I was older, but I play Adventures of Lolo 3 so much I saw it when I closed my eyes. I was the best at it in my house, so good that when I was on punishment and not supposed to be playing video games, my dad waited for my mom to leave and told me to fire up the NES and play. I credit Lolo for a LOT of my problem solving skills and for bolstering a love of puzzle games even tot his day. I’ll still play it through emulators sometimes before a writing session since it really does foster critical thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome! I never thought of puzzlers like Lolo helping with writing sessions. I usually turn to inspirational storytelling games to engender creative writing. Yours is a very interesting approach. Also, I have not played the third Lolo though I didn’t enjoy the second game as much as the first, so that’s probably why. I’ll be sure to check it out. Thanks for your comment. Have you reviewed any of these games yourself?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m inspired by story telling games, too! FFVII is my favorite game/story of all time, and it is a VERY obvious inspiration for all of my work, but I find that puzzle games really help the critical thinking process if played prior, especially if I have some issue to work out in the narrative.

        I’ve fully reviewed the first three Final Fantasies and Child of Light so far with a brief more analytical post on a particular aspect of Super Paper Mario. I’m very slowly working my way through all of the Final Fantasies (minus the online MMO ones like XI since that’s just not my thing) where I review them and offer analysis of their stories. I have one fanfiction posted on my blog and another is my WIP in progress as we speak or rather as I type hehe so I’m showing my geek flag I suppose. I’ve also written and posted a few FF essays with many more planned so you can imagine I was overjoyed to find your page through your comment on my friend’s blog The Ink Garden. I love puns and I love Final Fantasy so put them together and you have a very happy fangirl lol.

        I wasn’t a huge fan of the second Lolo either. I think that one may have been the weakest of the three, but I liked the original when I played it on an emulator a few years ago. 3 has a more world view set up where you actually travel to the particular dungeons rather than just lay levels all the way through. They added a little bit of a story aspect to it with the evil king turning all of the Egglanders to stone and you have Lala along with you. Instead of her being the captive princess, she’s a playable character (same specs as Lolo just a female option, which I liked a lot).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cool! Fellow FF fan here, quite clearly. FFVI is my personal favorite but of course FFVII deserves the respect and renown it gets. Child of Light is on my radar to play soon, so I’ll be glad to read your review on it soon. Happy our pun put a grin on your face! I’ve found myself having to explain what it means to people of late, which is startling.
          I’ll need to revisit Lolo 2 as it’s been a while. Since you’ve played the early FF’s, I’m assuming you’ve also played Chrono Trigger? That’s my favorite game/story.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I love Chrono Trigger! That’s another on my radar to replay/review. Time paradox stories seem to be my bread and butter this week hehe. I don’t want to elaborate in case you’re a fan of the thing I’m implying and in case you’re not caught up, but it seems to be this week’s theme. I loved CT, but I wasn’t as big on Chrono Cross. One of my real life friend’s named her cats after the series: Chrono, Trigger, and Cross. I, too, have traversed the dork side in cat names with my one cat Cid. I played CC longer ago than CT, but I felt the latter had too many characters and not enough plot for them. For comparison we’ll use your beloved FFVI (which holds a special place in my heart, too, since it was my first Final Fantasy and pulled me into the series), which has 12 main characters and 2 optional, but it’s not glutted with protagonists since all of them (even Umaro and Gogo) have valid reasons for being there, and having one or two extraneous characters doesn’t a poor story make. I think CC has over 30 potential characters. I need to replay it, but I recall that being a sticking point with me.

            I used to post daily cosplay on the collaborative blog I still occasionally write for, and FFVI has some of the most colorful and creative costumes. Who is your favorite character if you can pick? Mine is easily Celes. I have a love for, um, fallen generals though one made far better choices and had more access to the truth than the other, which should tell you who my favorite FFVII character is 😉

            One of my other online friends is in love with the OTP of Setzer and Darill and we exchange fanfics. Me with mine of Aeriseph and hers as fore mentioned. Deviant Art is a godsend for fanart and cosplay both.

            Huh, it seems a very easy pun to me! Let me know when you play CoL and what you think. It’s a surprisingly fast game for an RPG. I’m actually looking to replay and/or find a decent Let’s Play to watch.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Glad to know someone who really loves Chrono Trigger as I do. Robo is the best, though I named him R66-Y. Heh! We even got to use him in our wedding invites: https://thewellredmage.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/100th-post/
              (About the middle of the page)
              Such a great game/story/presentation. Love the characters. I understand the appeal of kitty names: I’ve got a Gandalf the grey right now and my previous cat was Archimedes.
              I also was not a fan of Chrono Cross nearly as much as Trigger. I still hold that Cross was a beautiful game but it’s execution was weird with too many characters. Good comparison with FFVI. I think the Cross characters don’t work because there isn’t enough room for them and even battle-wise they are all extremely generic. Have you heard of CT’s spiritual successor by Square? “I Am Setsuna”. https://thewellredmage.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/coming-next-turn-i-am-setsuna/
              In FFVI my favorite character was Kefka. Such an endearing villain. Basically DC’s “Emperor Joker”. But I also like Locke on the heroes’ side.
              What’s the name of the collab blog?
              Best of luck with finding your Let’s Play for Child of Light. Every once in a while those types of vids are appealing to me but most of them are somewhat grating. I’ll be getting Child of Light for my wife’s birthday (we game together sometimes) and hopefully put up a review for it. Love to chat about it and break it down with you!
              Oh yeah, and I had a DeviantArt account a while back. “daichinnraoss”. Mostly simple character sketches from bygone times.

              Liked by 1 person

              • My wedding music was all Final Fantasy. My wedding party walked into Aeris’s Theme and I came down the aisle to the Prelude. We left to the orchestrated ending theme near the end of the end credits to Advent Children, and the party was introduced during the reception to the Chocobo Theme from FFVIII, the sort of upbeat one.

                Chrono Trigger made me fall in love with the name Lucca. My favorite character is probably Magus just because I love antiheroes/villains, and the Time Circuits song is one of the best written pieces of music ever. I believe Nobuo Uemtasu did some if not all of the music for that series, too. Some…I think there’s another artist, but I love how Uematsu-san can incorporate so many different styles into his work. FFVI and FFIX has a distinctive Baroque sound to many of their songs, which makes sense for the time period the games emulate. FFVII’s song have an undercurrent of darkness. Even Aeris’s Theme falls into a minor tone almost immediately after it starts. I was attempting to learn that on keyboard a year or so ago, and I noticed it. Hopefully, I’ll have time soon to practice it again. I want to record myself at some point.

                Kefka was always fun and always funny. It’s very rare that you can pull off a character/characters that are both the villain AND the comic relief. The Joker of course fits that trope and oddly enough Les Miserable does it with the Thenardiers! I realized that one day and was like, “Huh.”

                Here’s the link to the collab blog: https://caffeinecrew.com/ I don’t post there as much anymore since I’m concentrating on finishing up a story, but once that’s complete I’ll go back to more game reviews, which will be on there as well as my blog! The cosplays are still up of course, and there’s still some good geek content on there.

                There are a few Let’s Players I like. My favorite one is NintendoCapriSun https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKrFXqpQj3gM98LF22Yq8Kg who’s done nearly all the Legend of Zelda, and there’s another chugaaconroy, but he can be a bit loud, and some people find him too much. NCS is pretty tame, kind of shy, and amusing. It took me a while to find a good group though. There are some games that I love to watch that I’m not great at playing or that I don’t enjoy playing as much. I’m not really into dungeon crawling like LoZ does, but I love the RPG aspects of it. And some of the old school games I’m rusty on, but I still love to watch them.

                Would definitely love to chat with you about CoL when you get it! I’m curious what you think. Have you played the Grandia Series at all? The battle engine for CoL is based on Grandia II, which I found highly enjoyable. Oh and I am Setsuna is now on my list. I will try to play that since it seems like an homage to the RPGs of yesteryear. Right up my alley!

                I have a DevArt. My one novel length fanfiction is up there, but it’s on my blog, too. I have no talent for the visual arts and I feel DevArt is geared more to that. I use it to keep collections of fanart along with Pinterest and a bit with tumblr. Pinterest is probably my most extensive collection though. I sketched a veeeeeery long time ago, but nothing that’s remotely good enough to post nor could I find them anyway. They were from FFVI actually after I got the strat guide for the express purpose of having access to Amano’s art. I was just talking to a DevArtist about The Sky actually hehe. It’s $50 on Amazon, which is a pretty good price for such a compendium.

                Happy early birthday to you wife! I love how more people are incorporating geeky hobbies into traditionally solemn ceremonies. Couples that game together tend to stay together hehe 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                • Sorry it took me so long to respond to this comment! Super happy to hear you chose some iconic sounds for your wedding. We used a mix of Jurassic Park, 2001: a Space Odyssey, Final Fantasy, and Chopin. My bride walked down the isle to the crescendo of Time at the end of Inception. Gotta be original!
                  Thanks for the links. I’ll be sure to check them out on this long weekend. Appreciate the well wishes! Can’t wait to play Child of Light.

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review of an underrated gem! Seriously, I think people assume that Lolo just started as a Kirby character. I didn’t play until it came out on the Wii Virtual Console, but man does this game get incredibly hard. I think I had more trouble eventually getting the hang of some of the end-game puzzles than anything in the Legend of Zelda series! Thanks for dusting this game off!

    Liked by 1 person

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