Loco Dojo Unleashed Review: Enjoyable Answer To Mario Party

Loco Dojo’s likable, well-paced take on Mario Party in VR hides some brilliant VR interactions. More in our Loco Dojo review!

Loco Dojo might essentially boil down to a series of fast-fire minigames, but packaged up together it’s an earnest exploration of just how different VR can really be. Swinging sausage nun-chucks around to ward off bats, catapulting balled up cats onto dog fur, or spraying a friend with shark food and then watching them desperately duck out of the way of sharp-toothed toys is all a potent reminder of the vast possibilities that lie just beyond the rings of the Oculus Touch controllers. There’s no gruff firefights or intense melee sword battles here, just a desire to offer something new. Though these moments are fleeting, Loco Dojo’s sharp pacing and fun social mechanics make them worth coming back to time and again.

We’re strictly in ‘Mario Party but in VR’ territory here. Up to four players join a lobby and take turns moving counters along a game board. Land on one of the 16 activities and you’ll be carted off for a few minutes of game time. Win the given activity and you’ll earn points, enough of which will provide access to a central temple where winning just one game will land you the crown.

Everything moves along with rejuvenating speed: spin the wheel, move the counter, and more than likely you’ll be jumping into the next game in no time. Crucially, the minigames are something to look forward to. Some hit on the conventional thrills like throwing items or spinning figurative plates, but the best feel like they’re truly unique to the platform. My personal favorite has some players using a paddle to bat urchins onto the stomach of a whale, while others tilt a platform to move a saw that brushes them off. Or there’s a VR take on an egg and spoon race in which you’ll balance a giant egg whilst trying to punch your opponent’s with a giant boxing glove. These feel frantic and exciting, with no shooter or sword-play muscle memory to fall back on.

There are a few more troubling omissions and hiccups that frustrate the experience, though. Though players start at opposite ends of the map, it’s entirely possible for one to catch up with another. Should that happen, you run the risk of repeating the same games over and over again, which can be a slog. And, although this new Quest version adds in single-player training, it’d be nice to have the options of a few practice rounds before getting stuck into a minigame on multiplayer; if it’s your first time you’re likely to lose points just figuring out the basics.

Of course, some of the games also don’t really land. Controlling a potato-shooting turret just doesn’t feel natural without a sense of feedback, and a game involving one player tossing snacks into a monster’s mouth is a trial for the opponent, who has to try and predict sometimes buggy hand placements to block incoming fire. Some games are also over just a little too quickly, feeling like the whistle blows before you’ve really settled in to find the fun.

But the better games easily outweigh the duds and the structural issues don’t derail the fun of a four-player tournament. Is it enough to keep you coming back? Well, that depends on if you have the friends to play it with, which is a considerably bigger ask than console party games with local multiplayer. For its part, the game’s charming toy-like presentation and always entertaining narration from Brian Blessed do their bit to make it a cheerful space to be in.

Loco Dojo Review – Final Impressions

Loco Dojo doesn’t rewrite the rules on the party game format, but it successfully finds the fun in adding VR to that template. Its best games are brilliantly entertaining explorations of the different kinds of experiences the platform offers and, although it has some structural issues, tournaments move with a pace that makes them easy to jump into and tempting to replay time and again. It might be hard to realize a family game night in VR but if you and your friends find yourselves in four corners of the globe with an Oculus Quest each, Loco Dojo is a good way to capture the camaraderie often reserved for local play.

For more on how we arrived at this rating, read our review guidelines. What did you make of our Loco Dojo review? Let us know in the comments below!

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