(NES)

Game Review

Adventures of Lolo Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

YOLO, Lolo

HAL Laboratory's 1989 puzzler Adventures of Lolo falls into the same category as titles like Mach Rider and Clu Clu Land: C-list NES classics that are often overlooked today but provide an arcade-like fun experience for those searching out Nintendo's "deep cuts" from the '80s. Adventures of Lolo is probably best remembered these days as HAL's precursor to its other puffball creation, Kirby; some sound effects from the early Kirby titles were lifted straight from Adventures of Lolo, and while Lolo has faded into obscurity he and his co-star Lala would go on to become recurring enemies in the Kirby series as Lololo and Lalala — not to be confused with Dedede or Trololo. Measured on its own merits, Adventures of Lolo isn't an all-time great, but it's a clever little puzzle game that still feels fresh in 2014.

The basic set-up of Adventures of Lolo is simple: an extensive collection of single-room puzzles where Lolo must activate all the heart buttons onscreen, claim the treasure chest, and move on to the next location. Controls are easy to learn, with D-pad movement, "A" for using items, and the Select button to commit suicide and start a level over again if you get stuck; that's it! There's not even a pause button, so if you want to take a break from the game, you'll have to Run Lolo Run (or cheat and use the Wii U home button). Later on, certain levels introduce more complex mechanics like the abilities to build bridges over water and destroy boulders in your way, but it's all through the simple A-button controls. Along the way, there are all sorts of clever enemies, from standard bad guys who chase you around the room to drowsy enemies who fall asleep as soon as you touch them. Some enemies only activate once you've acquired all the hearts in the room, and others are content to merely sit around and let you use them as puzzle pieces.

These enemy encounters can be frustrating at first – since the layout of the castle looks similar to the single-screen rooms in The Legend of Zelda's dungeons, players are tempted to approach enemies as if Adventures of Lolo were an action title. In fact, Lolo dies after one hit, and his only weapon is a blast attack with almost no ammunition; you gain ammo by stepping on heart switches, but you never have more than two shots available before you run out, and enemies take two hits to disappear from the screen. A single hit simply turns them into an egg that delays them for a few seconds as they hatch (a precursor to Yoshi's enemy-eggifying?), and a second hit knocks them offscreen, although they respawn after about a minute.

Instead, you're encouraged to think strategically and avoid enemies rather than fight them head-on; this is a puzzle game, after all, and the enemies are extensions of the puzzle. You can move blocks around the room to trap enemies and shield yourself from their attacks, or you can turn them into an egg and move them around the room to solve the puzzle, like pushing the egg into water so you can use it as a stepping stone. Levels can seem infuriatingly difficult until you figure out exactly what you're meant to do in exactly the right order – there are often multiple ways to solve the same puzzle, which lets Adventures of Lolo feel nicely non-linear.

Hot off the heels of Tecmo's NES-cutscene-revolutionising Ninja Gaiden the year before, Adventures of Lolo opens with a short cinematic to set up the storyline. It's your generic Damsel in Distress trope, where the villain King Egger kidnaps the beautiful blob Lala, and it's Lolo's job to save her from Egger's castle. The cutscene is an impressive feat for the NES hardware; the fact that Adventures of Lolo launched so late in the NES lifespan means it could've had gorgeous graphics all around – if it weren't for the strange decision to use the ugliest colour scheme imaginable, full of browns and pale blues. The music also leaves something to be desired, consisting of stereotypical upbeat NES chiptunes that you'll forget as soon as you stop playing.

The horrendous colours and music make for a drab gameworld, but the sprite animations are a particular highlight. As Lolo traverses the levels, his walking animation uses more frames than we're accustomed to on NES, creating an almost-3D perspective as we see every side of his body. As far as puffball protagonists go, he's not nearly as charming as Kirby, but Lolo's simplicity allows for the fluid, complex animations we get to enjoy. Unfortunately, despite the unique interactions with enemies, most of the enemy sprites are fairly bland, with your standard green snakes and floating skulls dotting each level.

Conclusion

If you're not a big Virtual Console buff, Adventures of Lolo won't change your mind: it's an old game with offensively cheerful music, muddy colours, and a rigid, unforgiving difficulty. There's no multiplayer or extra modes, and the gameplay ultimately boils down to "flip all the switches and move to the next room." Once you get past the mostly horrid aesthetics, though, Adventure of Lolo's genius is in the ways Lolo interacts with the unconventional enemies to solve each level in this puzzle-action setting. It's not in the same league as big-name NES legends, but if you have the patience for it you'll go loco for Lolo; it's a unique collection of action-puzzling stages and a peek into the pre-Kirby years of HAL Laboratory.

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User Comments (32)

TreesenHauser

#1

TreesenHauser said:

I love Adventures of Lolo! Awesome puzzle game that definitely keeps your brain on its toes the entire time. Though I would understand how some may be put off by it. Great review!

Lolo 2 and 3 are great as well!

luke17

#2

luke17 said:

Love this game, and loved the sequel. One of the best puzzle games on the NES.

edcomics

#3

edcomics said:

Harsh comments about the visuals and music. I always thought it was a fun game, so I decided to pick it up on the eShop last night. Still fun!

geozeldadude

#4

geozeldadude said:

the score seems low. the game is a fantastic classic puzzle game and right up there with the best.

Action51

#5

Action51 said:

This is one of those hidden gems of the NES era.

A pure puzzle game disguised as an adventure with some truly brain teasing rooms.

Stu13

#6

Stu13 said:

The complaints here are all valid, but this still gets my personal rating of 'Great Game'.

DualWielding

#8

DualWielding said:

have fond memories of playing this as a child but don't really have time to replay it so pass

GeminiSaint

#9

GeminiSaint said:

How can you call Lolo's music horrendous? You, good reviewer, have lost all my respect.

River3636

#10

River3636 said:

This game is so Awesome it has puzzles that make Solomons key hail. I love this game. They need more just like it. I had all three and never beat lolo 3. I was sad when they didn't release lolo 3 (boss fights) on The virtual console for wii. Lolo 1 and 2 are so similar it's like the same game with different puzzles. This is one of my favorite series for NES I don't know why, but I love it.

accc

#11

accc said:

A 7/10? C-list? Horrendous music? I know this is your opinion, reviewer, but your opinion is wrong!

River3636

#13

River3636 said:

I don't think it is on par with Mach rider or clu clu land . I think it's in a different category on its own. The review is therefore deemed insufficient cause this is not a C list game

KingCreezy

#14

KingCreezy said:

Certainly don't think the music and graphics are bad at all but to each his/her own. Personally, I still find myself humming the music 20+ years later. It does have some difficult puzzles but nothing too crazy. The real challenge is in Lolo 3. That game can get nuts!!! However, it's also my favorite.

Dr_Corndog

#16

Dr_Corndog said:

Fun game. But every time I see it, I think of Moses Malone saying "The Adventures of Lolo? You better s-s-save saved the receipt."

Obito_Tennyson

#17

Obito_Tennyson said:

7/10? I'll pass. I would only get Virtual Console games that:
1) Are on the 3DS. The only exception shall be Gamecube for Wii U.
2) Do not have an alternative counterpart as a better version. (Mega Man, Mario Golf...)
3) Have a rating up a 8-10/10 on this website.
4) Have SOME reason why it should be bought, other than the reasons above. (e.g. Prequel, Sequel, Popular Game, Nostalgia...)

Henmii

#19

Henmii said:

This is a good opportunity to ask the following: Has the third one ever been released on Wii vc? Recently I downloaded 1 and 2 (I have yet to play them though). But I couldn't find the third one!

mikeyman64

#22

mikeyman64 said:

I found a copy of this in the box at PlayNTrade a couple months ago. Haven't tried it yet.

KingCreezy

#23

KingCreezy said:

@River3636 I was a hardcore collector for years. Rarity is subjective, outside of the games we know that had limited prints, were store exclusives, etc. Overall I'd label this game as uncommon. It can be pricey but with over 50 copies on ebay alone at any given time, I have a hard time calling it rare. Collecting has become insane. Some think price=rarity. Example: Earthbound. The game is simply uncommon, not rare, but it fetches crazy money.

Mikau94

#24

Mikau94 said:

Great game, I FINALLY got aron :und to playing it last year and I picked up Lolo 3 for really cheap Saturday :D

River3636

#25

River3636 said:

@KingCreezy you might be right I haven't really given much thought to it, but I did get the notion because it was pricey that it was rare further analysis suggested you are correct in your assertions. I know it's rare for me because I'm not spending $200 on that game.

brooks83

#26

brooks83 said:

"Horrendous colours and musc"? I completely disagree. The colours, and especially the music, are perfect as is!

StarDust4Ever

#28

StarDust4Ever said:

7/10 is fair for a love it or hate it style game. I enjoyed several of the Black box titles like DK, DK Jr, and Pinball to name a few, which got poor reviews on Nlife. Classics are classics although the obsession of reviewers with graphics worries me, especially early NES "Black Box" titles which IMO looked damn good compared to the Atari games which came before them. And many of the Atari 2600 titles were fun too, despite the gut wrenching graphics and sfx.

@Obito_Tennyson IMO, anyone who looks at the numerical score alone to decide whether to purchase said title, without reading the full review, is sad, really. There have been games rated 9/10 that I did not enjoy and 5/10 games that I had lots of fun playing.

KingCreezy

#29

KingCreezy said:

@River3636 I'm not paying 200 bones for it either lol. Also, if I came across as taking shots at you or being condescending, then I apologize. That wasn't my intent.

LindsayPez

#32

LindsayPez said:

My mom and I played this game for hours and hours when I was growing up. Then I got it on the Wii VC and spent a ton of time on it again. Love this game. It is so frustratingly difficult sometimes, though!

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