Review: Adventures of Lolo (NES)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out another game that started a series. This time, it’s the puzzle game Adventures of Lolo for the NES. We find out if this game gave this series a good start.

This particular game was released in 1989 and would go on to spark a trilogy of NES games.

The game starts off with a pink version of Lolo (evidently names Lala) being captured by a villain. For what reason is unclear in the beginning of game, but Lolo must rescue her. Thus, the start of your adventure when your quest begins at the first level of the antagonists castle.

Each level is a single screen size and will feature a variety of different enemies and objects. Enemies include a statue-like enemy. While this enemy doesn’t move, if you walk in line with it either horizontally or vertically, the statue will freeze Lolo and shoot him with thorns, killing him. There’s a pink moving statue. Like the regular statue, if Lolo walks in line horizontally or vertically from the statue, it freezes Lolo, shoots and kills him. The statue only moves two directions though, and the movement is predictable, often helping you get through a level. Another enemy is the grey armadillo (rhino?) enemy. This enemy simply wanders around the level. If it touches Lolo, Lolo dies. Not all enemies are fatal if touched. The large grey block-like enemy wanders around the level. Unlike the previously mentioned enemies, if it touches Lolo, it will simply harmlessly push him in one direction. While not fatal in and of itself, if it pushes Lolo into a corner, Lolo will then be unable to move – ending a life through lack of ability to move. Another curious enemy is the wandering green monster. It also wanders around the maze. A key difference is that when it touches Lolo, it falls asleep, becoming fixed in one location for the rest of the time you spend on that level. The least harmful (and often helpful) enemy is the snake like monster. It doesn’t move at all and is pretty much harmless even when touched. One enemy is completely harmless at first, and that’s the skull. The skull remains stationary until you collect all of the hearts. Once all the hearts are collected, they will activate, move around the level, try and find you and kill you. Touching one once activated ends your life. Another enemy that activates when all the hearts are collected is the pink fire breathing dragon. While it doesn’t move when you collect all of the hearts, it will spit out a burst of fire if Lolo enters it’s narrow field of view (a line away from where it’s facing).

The way one completes a level begins with collecting all of the heart items in the level. If you collect all of the hearts, the treasure chest on the level becomes unlocked and opened. There is a small pink gem that Lolo must collect in this treasure chest. If Lolo collects this gem, all of the enemies disappear from the map. What also happens is that the level exit will open up. Often, this is just the door located somewhere along the wall (typically the North wall). Other times, when you are on the last level of the whole floor, no door to be opened is found on the level. Instead, a set of stairs appears where you can climb up them to complete that floor.

There are a number of level objects of note. There is the rock which blocks all deadly shots of enemies. It also prevents movement of all characters both friend and foe. The tree also blocks all movements both friend and foe (a tree growing from the brick floor of a castle?). The big difference, however, is the fact that it doesn’t block deadly shots. Water areas block all movement, however, you can bridge gaps with bridges or eggs. Lava also blocks all movement. Grass areas can be very helpful as enemies can’t wander over top of them, but you can. This can prove to be a temporary safe haven when the need arises. Arrow spaces denote spaces with limited movement. If you wander to the space the arrow is pointing at, then you can’t move into the space the arrow is on. You can, however, wander onto an arrow space from any other direction and wander off of it in any direction. Finally, there is the object you’ll find yourself using the most – the moveable block. These blocks can only be pushed. They are useful in that they block any deadly attacks. Be warned that once they are moved into a corner, they can’t be moved any further. They can never be pulled either, unfortunately.

Along the way, it’s possible for Lolo to collect items. One item is an arrow space. This can be used to change the direction of a single arrow space. Useful if your way has been blocked. These can be obtained if the level has this available and if you collect enough hearts on said level. Another item is the hammer. This item allows you to bust up a rock space, allowing you to gain access to new areas in the level. Additionally, there is the bridge. Just move to a water area and you can place a bridge on top of it. This allows you to turn a water space into a land space, permitting greater movement where there otherwise wouldn’t be. Most often found, and most often used, is ammunition for your only attack – an egg shooter. The ammunition always comes in pairs when collected. You can shoot an enemy and turn them into an egg. Shoot them again and you can blast them off of the screen. Be warned that, in many cases, if you cause the egg to disappear, it’s only a matter of time before that enemy respawns (denoted, at first, by a square in the initial space the enemy was found before the enemy finally reappears). Enemies in egg form can be moved like a moveable block and even block enemy shots. The problem is that, eventually, the enemy is able to break out of the egg form and back to the previous form. Another point to make about enemies in egg form is the fact that you can turn them into a make-shift raft. If you push them into the water, the egg will float. Sometimes, the egg will simply stay on that space and eventually sink, but other times, the currents will carry the egg around. You can only float one egg at a time. While the egg in the water won’t block enemy shots, it will allow Lolo to walk on top of it and carry him around the level.

When one plays this game, it looks like an extremely simple game. Since it’s a puzzle game, it’s easy to initially get the impression that it can’t get all that difficult since you are mostly just pushing blocks around and collecting hearts. I can tell you that, unassisted, you won’t find that this is the case by the time you complete the game. The game will eventually make you work for some of those level solves. In fact, I’m grateful that there is no time limit because I ended up staring at the screen for a while just trying to figure out how I’m going to even begin to solve some levels. Sometimes, it’s a matter of working through a maze-like level. Other times, you are trying to figure out what order to pacify deadly paths. Sometimes, it’s all about timing. Other times, it’s a matter of running for your life. Sometimes, it’s even a combination of these things that solves the level. At any rate, this game will push your problem solving skills sooner or later. Just treating this game as some simple little game with pushover difficulty would be a mistake on a gamers part even though the levels, by design, make it seem like a bright and cheery experience.

I found this to be a challenging game. Sometimes, solving puzzles means taking your half thought out ideas and putting them to the test. If you don’t mind dying a lot and remembering passwords, this is sometimes your best chance of solving some of the puzzles. There are a lot of components in this game, so there’s a huge variety of obstacles and level designs you can encounter. What I also really like is that a number of puzzles have more than one solution. I found this to be a great element as it made this game have a less asinine feel to it in that each level doesn’t have only one solution. The only thing I didn’t like about this game is the fact that it’s linear. If you can’t solve one particular level, your adventure is over because you can’t move on. So, the fun of figuring things out can easily come to a screeching halt at any moment.

Graphically speaking, this game showed a lot of promise with the cutscenes at the beginning. When you get to the first few levels, it’s easy to think that this game has great graphics. Unfortunately, as you progress, you eventually realize that the only graphical variety you get is from the monsters and objects you encounter. What you see on the first level for floor and wall textures will be the exact same thing in the middle and end levels (last floor changed the floor textures, but felt that was too little, too late as most players would never get that far in this game). Even though the puzzles vary significantly, the art remains the same generally speaking. This gives the game a very stale look after a while. I wished that the look changed somewhat from floor to floor for variety purposes. Instead, we have a lot of sameness going on which took away from the playability of the game. In between levels, you are treated to a simple texture and text telling you to continue on. The messages are the same for several floors until you reach the last floor – telling you that the final battle draws near. As a result, I would say the graphics are only OK.

The audio is, sadly, the same story. You have great promise at the beginning. Unfortunately, the music you hear on the first level is exactly the same on every other level. What’s level 1 music is also level 10 music and final levels music. The sound effects are somewhat limited as well. While what is there is good for a NES game at the time, the fact that you are stuck with such a limited library really kills the motivation to continue after a while – giving the impression after a while that this game is never ending (there’s 9 floors total).

Overall, if you are after a real brain teaser, this game might be just what you are looking for. While there’s a great variety of the puzzles you’ll encounter for such simple mechanics, the same cannot be said for graphics or audio. This made completing the game much more difficult as I knew that I’ll be continuing where I left off with same audio and same graphics as I saw earlier (which also hurts replay value). You adventure can also end quick if you find yourself stuck on a particular level (will happen sooner or later). So, plenty of positive points and plenty of negative points. I would say this game is merely good, but will have limited use in terms of gameplay after the initial play through.


Furthest point in game: Completed game. Obtained help completing a few of those levels though).

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 3/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 58%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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