Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Way back in 1988, Hal Laboratories, who would still be churning out quality titles in later decades, released a quirky little cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System called The Adventures of Lolo. The colorful opening scene depicts fun, cartoony characters as Princess Lala gets captured in dramatic fashion and is whisked away through the sky from Lolo.
So, as Lolo, the player must certainly control a valiant hero across epic landscapes and use a mighty sword to brutally dispatch of repulsive enemies and enormous bosses, right? Not quite – this title, with its round blue main titular playable character sporting big eyes and a cute little tail, throws a monkey wrench into the traditional adventure game.
Instead of using blades and other violence, Lolo ventures into the dreaded castle and encounters rooms of puzzles. At first, it really seems like it is going to be another box-pushing puzzle game; but the pleasant surprise lies in the fact that this is a true quest, with odd little enemies, environmental perils, and tricks to master and navigate.
As Lolo, the player controls our blue hero amidst a tile-based landscape and has to collect all the hearts in a room in order to open a treasure chest, which opens the door to the room. Even in the first couple of levels, there are enemies to deal with and the controlling person will soon learn that rescuing Priness Lala will involve keen timing, sharp wits, and a measure of diligence.
The elements are rendered colorfully, and definitely stand a step above many NES selections from the time period. The animation is somewhat basic at points (watch a flat fireball listlessly glide across the screen from one of the baby dragons), but it also fits the premise of the game: This is not a flashy medieval warfare epic. This is a puzzle game that just happens to throw some enjoyable action ingredients into the brainy mix.
The music is lighthearted, and even delightful at times, but after a few levels on the same floor of the castle, it can get repetitive. Otherwise, the effects are pretty simple, with little beeps and boops and whooshes narrating the on-screen happenings.
Creativity and Innovation
Even today, this immediately stands out as a brilliant game, a nearly flawless blend of puzzle and adventure. Lolo, at times, has to dispatch of enemies in clever ways, or navigate rocks and rivers and bridges and other level elements. It is not as unabashedly cerebral as Tetris, without offering the mindblowing adventurescape of the first Zelda title released at the similar time.
The true strength of this game, though, is this password feature. Playing through multiple levels, the player progresses through floors of the castle, each floor having several of the one-screen puzzle levels. After the initial handful of lives are depleted, the player is granted a password that can restore them to the same level at a future time. This saves the game from being completely unfun if you had to redo every single stinkin’ level from the beginning to end every time you played.
Because of that obvious replay factor, the unique and original storyline, the sublime melding of puzzle and adventure, Lolo is a fantastic game overall. It does have a weakness or two, primarily concerning its difficulty, in that some portions of the game (new enemies, new puzzle elements) require new players to use trial-and-error methods to figure out, inevitably leading to lost lives in the process. Even given these frustration, it still commands a solid four stars out of five rating.
For a listing of other classic NES video games, including those of both high and low quality, head to NintendoLegend.com.