Years ago, I was browsing the Wii Shopping Channel (when that was still a thing) in hopes of buying a “classic” NES title. Adventures of Lolo caught my eye with its colorful screenshots and large characters. Disappointingly, the writeup described it as a puzzle game. Puzzle games are a tough sell for me. What if the game’s too short? What if the gameplay is boring? Ultimately, I passed on Lolo.
Fast-forward to 2019. I was once again browsing a list of NES games to play, this time as part of the Nintendo Switch Online catalog. That’s when I rediscovered Lolo and finally gave it a chance. For anyone keeping track, this review is being published in 2022. It has taken me so long to finish this piece that I had to go back and replay the game to refresh my memory.
Here’s the official game synopsis:
“After the love of his life, Lala, is kidnapped by the devilish King Egger and taken to his haunted castle, our hero Lolo sets out to rescue her. The journey is perilous, as the Great Devil’s fortress is guarded by a massive army. But Lolo has a few tricks up his sleeve! He can move blocks to trap enemies, clear a path, or use as a shield. He can also activate the Magic Shot that will turn enemies into eggs. But watch out as a single touch from these creatures could spell trouble for our hero! Combining clever environmental puzzles with tricky enemies and an engaging style, Adventures of Lolo is a true classic!”Nintendo.com
Lolo is relatively simple to pick up and play. In a nutshell, you collect hearts lying around each stage in order to open a treasure chest. Once the chest is open, you need to grab the orb inside to make an exit appear. Lolo must then navigate to the exit to finish the stage. Each of the castle’s ten floors contains five stages for a total of fifty stages. That’s a lot of content, and Lolo offers plenty of creative challenges along the way.
Screenshots don’t explain the gameplay, but they do showcase the cheerful graphics. Large, colorful sprites help identify what’s good to collect and what’s best to avoid. Sometimes you can explore with reckless abandon. Other times, you’ll want to survey your surroundings first. Traps come in a variety of shapes and sizes; many will kill you, and most will affect your route through the stage. Victory often lies in conserving your firepower for key enemies.
Speaking of firepower, Lolo is able to turn enemies into eggs after first collecting hearts. He can then push these eggs around like blocks or kick them off the stage. Early on, hearts lie unprotected in the open; later, they are guarded by monsters or isolated in dangerous areas. You’ll often need to collect them in a particular order so that you don’t lose access to the treasure chest later.
Some enemies remain dormant until the last heart is collected. Then they begin shooting fireballs across the stage! For these buggers, you’ll need to position egg blocks into the line of fire, allowing Lolo to pass un-singed. Our hero only moves in cardinal directions, so I highly recommend using a directional pad for precise movements. Thumb-sticks will get you dead fast.
Later stages have but one solution; if you mess that up, you’ll be stuck. You can restart a puzzle by sacrificing one of your extra lives. Expend them all and you’ll meet a game over screen. Mercifully, you can resume where you left off by selecting continue or by entering a password. Save states are another option, courtesy of the Switch Online service. The rewind feature is particularly useful when you make a crucial error and don’t want to restart from the beginning.
Overall, I had a great time with Lolo and his adventure, even if it was a long time coming. My first play session ran into the wee hours of the morning. The next day, I logged several more hours before getting stuck at the last stage. It pains me to admit this, but I had to look up the solution.
If you already have a Switch Online subscription, Lolo is a worthwhile experience that won’t cost you anything extra—just some brainpower. It’s also available for purchase on the Wii U and 3DS eShops, at least until Nintendo shuts them down like the Wii Shopping Channel.
Would I play it again? Yes! I had to replay a few stages to refresh my memory for this review. A final thought: the game only has one song. While pleasant, it’s short, so you’ll want to turn the sound off before long.