Hot chocolate and marshmallows are so delicious that it’s hard to believe there aren’t more games about them. Fortunately, Chillingo has addressed this embarrassing void with Coco Loco, a cute physics puzzler that makes good use of fluid dynamics.
Coco Loco begins with a roving band of marshmallows searching for hot chocolate. They soon fall afoul of the Cocoa Bean Guardians of Aztec Land, who imprison the marshmallows and degrade them by dressing them up in celebrity outfits. It’s up to a motley band of marshmallow heroes to rescue their friends.
Having established its bizarre premise, the game settles down to what’s really important: flinging characters through the air and destroying stuff. Coco Loco puts its fluid dynamics front and center from the very first level, in which you knock a huge bowl of hot chocolate over onto your enemies. In later levels, you’ll fire a chocolate cannon, push through chocolate barriers, and even send marshmallows surfing on chocolate.
Unleash the chocolate!
The game’s physics model may not be strictly realistic, but the flows of liquid look good and provide the consistent results players need to make decisions. The model is also flexible, as demonstrated by the jelly that appears in many levels. The game never clarifies why there is jelly in Aztec Land– and what flavor is it, anyway?– but the contrast between jelly and chocolate provides a lot of variety.
So do the marshmallow characters. Coco Loco provides six ways to commit chocoholic mayhem. Marty Marzipan is the basic toss-and-smash character. Jelly Gumble sticks to some things and expands when you tap the screen. Neapolitan Dynamite explodes. Slammin’ Sammy Sumo heads straight down on command and bounces high when he hits jelly. Donutella cuts through objects with his ninja slash, and Corporal Clinker has the chocolate cannon. An in-game almanac lovingly details the characters, and reads like a demented guide to Candyland.
Most of the characters are knocked through the air by Billy Batter, a marshmallow baseball slugger. You can’t affect how hard Billy hits, so the only way to adjust your characters’ trajectories is by aiming upwards or downwards. We found that the controls work smoothly and are easy to use, but it would be nice to have just a little more control over velocity.
Each level gives you a limited selection of characters and a structure of wood, glass, and stone to destroy. The routine will be familiar to any Angry Birds player: launch characters, destroy the structure, earn up to three stars per level. If you get stuck, you can unleash Fluffy, a big dog equivalent of the Mighty Eagle, which destroys everything in its path. Your first use of Fluffy is free, and you can purchase unlimited uses for $0.99 as an in-app purchase.
You won’t get stuck very often. Almost all of the puzzles have obvious solutions, made even easier by collectible coins placed as hints and targeting aids. Some of the puzzles are also repetitive, solved by firing the same character along the same path five or six times. The fluid-based puzzles are always fun, though, and later levels can require precise timing to complete. Even when the game is not all that challenging, its graphics and sound give it a charm that encourages you to keep playing.
Coco Loco launched with only 45 levels, but is promising more in future releases. If Chillingo can keep the game’s whimsical fun while adding a little more thought to the puzzles, then it’s a game that will be worth returning to.