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ilomilo (Xbox 360) Review

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While the Xbox 360 as a console is most often marketed towards the hardcore gamer, the Xbox Live Arcade offers games for just about any type of gamer imaginable. This is especially true for the puzzle genre; which consists of PopCap favorites as well as slightly more obscure titles. ilomilo (pronounced: e-low me-low) is an odd sounding game that offers cute graphics and simple gameplay. Quite frankly: anyone can download and play this game with relative ease. The controls are painless and the goal is even more understandable. You must reunite ilo and milo.

Of course this would not be a puzzle game if there were not obstacles blocking our protagonists' paths. The game works in a 3D environment, with the ground being comprised completely of blocks. These blocks create linear paths that eventually will lead you to finding your lost friend. During gameplay you are given the ability to switch control of ilo or milo, and in most puzzles are required to do so. One interesting feature is that neither ilo or milo possess any notable abilities. They cannot jump, dive or perform any legitimate actions; however they can pick up and drop special blocks. Some of these act like any other block on the stage, and merely extend your path one step further. Others increase your path by three blocks, vertical or horizontal.

For the most part, reaching the end of a level is not at all difficult. Most of the stages are rather straightforward, even if they at first appear complex. The real difficulty comes in the form of collectibles, which clutter the stages in multiple forms. The most immediate type are memory fragments, collecting enough of them will unlock parts of images that further the game's inner story. Unlocking these provides a similar experience to Braid, making you ask what depth is hidden under such a simplistic game. There are also Safkas, which look like smaller versions of ilo & milo (species unknown). Every stage has three safkas, each of a different color. Collecting all safkas of a specific color unlocks bonus stages at the end of each world. Finally there are also music records and photos, which unlock in-game audio and concept art.

One thing that really puzzled me about ilomilo is the lack of online co-op. The game revolves around two characters working together, yet only offline co-op is available. This is the problem with a ton of XBLA games lately, and while I'm no game developer I refuse to believe it is all that difficult to incorporate. Games since the beginning of Xbox 360 have made use of the online functionality, hell the original Xbox helped make online console gaming what it is today. I understand not every game can make use of multiplayer but this one is rather confusing.

In terms of presentation, both the graphics and audio portions are worthy of ilomilo's gameplay standards. Though awkward to say the least, this game is undeniably cute. The characters are likable and unrealistic, as opposed to scary which some games create. Backgrounds of stages are also complex and beautiful without distracting from the main gameplay. And for someone who really cares about this sort of thing, the main menu is really fantastic. ilomilo may not be visually impressive in terms of lighting, polygons, etc. but it is brilliant in almost every other way. ilomilo's soundtrack also matches this strange but intriguing nature that plays softly enough to where it is complimentary, and never annoying or overly apparent.

ilomilo is the third and final XBLA game featured in the Xbox Games for the Holidays promotion, after A World of Keflings and Raskulls. It was nice for the trio to not cost $15 per game, and see a welcomed (if only temporary) return to the 800MSP ($10) pricetag. ilomilo is a game that can appeal to just about anyone, but is primarily going to enjoyed by the puzzle fan or somewhat more casual gamer. For the price I do highly recommend ilomilo, just don't let the overly cutesie graphics prevent you from trying this one out.









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