"ilomilo" An Enchanting Experience
Not very often do gamers bear witness to a game quite like ilomilo. On the surface it looks like a game aimed primarily at children, but once you get deep down into the aesthetics of it you realize that this SouthEnd Interactive title was made to bring the inner child out of all of us.
ilomilo follows the adventures of Ilo and Milo, two best friends who always manage to lose each other while playing. Your goal in the same is easier said than done: reunite the two pals, while at the same time collect gallery items and small creatures called Safkas to unlock bonus levels. You'll receive help from Sebastian, a small man riding a beetle, who will give you small hints and limericks about what you need to do on each level. Plus Ilo and Milo must collect small memory fragments that will help to rediscover the truths to why the duo have to meet up with one another.
Players can switch back and forth between the Ilo and Milo characters, as both will need to assist one another in order to rejoin the pairing. To achieve this well-needed reunion players will have to grab cubes that either serve as stepping stones (short and long), trap doors, elevators and cranks; which, in turn, will make it easier for the friends to meet up. Of course there are a few hinderances, such as worms that will take your cubes away or block your path, though by using the element of teamwork one of the two characters can distract the hinderance so the other can accomplish the much-needed goal.
The outer appearance of ilomilo is very enchanting, like something out of a French claymation movie or taken from the dreams of Hayao Miyazaki. (Come to think of it the characters of Ilo and Milo look somewhat like the main protagonist from A City with No People, the story within the CLAMP manga Chobits.) Its surreal and artsy images help to make ilomilo the most original-looking game in the Xbox Live Arcade library. On top of the looks of the game is its sound. Daniel Olsén's soundtrack is beautifully performed throughout the game, as it is filled with enough charm and smile-enducing moments that will make you hum the songs way after the game is over. (I can't help but think of the Kuricoder Pops Orchestra, who performed the music in the hit anime Azumanga Daioh!, while listening.) This combination of enchanting music with whimsical graphics help to make ilomilo one of the most lovely gaming experiences on any system.
The storyline in ilomilo is also fantastic, with its tale of two friends wanting to meet up in a world that seems to try to keep them apart. Its very Pixar-like the way the narrative is told, and its vast supporting characters -- either friend or foe -- adds to the delightful experience that one will see. There is also the two other tales being told throughout ilomilo, one being of the human characters "Ilona Zevon" and "Milton Foley," which acts as a realistic allegory to what the game is about. (Or is the game an imaginative allegory to the realistic tale of Ilona and Milton?) The other story that's being told is the fable "The Huntsman and the Fox," which is told by Sebastian in some of the bonus levels. You will wonder who this unnamed Huntsman truly is, though I am putting my finger on that tale being something of a backstory to the Sebastian character. These stories -- both main and subplot -- are wonderfully told, and makes me hope that an ilomilo film will one day be made.
Now that we got the story, graphics and music out of the way it's time to look into the important aspect of ilomilo: its gameplay. While it might sound repetitive to try and reunite the two characters its imaginative worlds and varied ways to figure out how to rejoin the duo help to push away any sort of monotonous feeling in the game. There are no power-ups or crazy twists to help or hinder Ilo or Milo, just get the two back together so they can play and eat mountains of cupcakes. It's a simple goal in each level, yes, but adding on the objective to collect the three Safkas in each level and other hidden goodies give it the sort of replay value one needs to make it a good game. The bonus levels are also fun, with some cool hidden cameos from other games that will make you point and laugh.
ilomilo also has the honor of being the most easiest game to control in a long time, thanks to its simple mechanisms. You move with the left control stick, switch characters with one button, pick up objects with another and angle the camera with the right control stick. No jumps, no weapons, and (as mentioned above) no power-ups. This game is so easy to play that even a toddler can give it a whirl with little-to-no problems.
You'll be able to complete the main game in about six hours, a fair amount of time for an 800-point game, and that doesn't even cover the multiplayer part (where you and a friend can try and find hidden eggs throughout the levels). Still with almost fifty levels there's a whole lot of imaginative goodness to be found in ilomilo. However I did notice a couple bugs in the main game, and while they were minuscule it was quite surprising that SouthEnd Interactive didn't fix them before its release. Hopefully a patch will soon be released to fix it.
- Vast imaginative world, superb storyline
- Beautiful graphics, catchy music
- Easiest control scheme around
- A couple noticeable bugs in later levels
- Having to wait for the "Autumn Tale" DLC
I cannot express this enough: if you're looking for a fun game that's very imaginative-looking, has an easy control scheme and contains enough challenges to entertain any gamer, then you need to buy ilomilo. It's one of the most beautiful-looking games on Xbox Live Arcade, as well as one of the most addicting. Cross your fingers that this is just the first adventure of Ilo and Milo, and that there will be more to come in the not-so-distant future.
FINAL GRADE: 9.6 (out of ten)