Review: Loco Dojo Unleashed

When VRFocus reviewed British virtual reality (VR) developer Make Real’s twist on the mini-game genre, Loco Dojo, in 2017 it was fun mashup that could easily entertain a few friends with its humorous high jinks. Looking back, it was also a little ahead of itself, or more accurately, Loco Dojo required a player base that just wasn’t available at that time. Fast forward four years and the team have released Loco Dojo Unleashed for Meta Quest, bringing that eccentric gameplay to a whole new audience whilst finding a much more natural home on the standalone headset.

If you’ve played the original the core experience remains mostly unchanged. The aim is to win each frantic mini-game, hopefully earning enough stars to be awarded a black belt and take home the prize of being an awesome Loco Dojo Unleashed player. Actually achieving that is no easy task as the 16 mini-games on offer are seemingly simple yet devilishly difficult to master, and they’re the same ones as before; no new content on that front.

Supporting up to four players in each multiplayer “Table of Trials” match, Loco Dojo Unleashed is set in a martial arts dojo (who’d of guessed?) run by the Grand Sensei – who just happens to be voiced by Brian Blessed. Set around a giant spinning table – think Wheel of Fortune – you grab a handle and give it a quick spin to move around the central board. This will activate whatever mini-game you happen to land upon, and as quickly becomes apparent, animals (pigs in particular) and food are the main themes you’ll have to try and tackle.

Wacky would be an understatement when it comes to these mini-games where you’ll find yourself trying to catch fish with giant claw hands, milking a pig, swatting bats with nunchuck hotdogs, shooting seagulls out the sky to collect condiments and much more. Most of the games are highly physical making for an intensely immersive experience even if it only lasts a couple of minutes each time.

Obviously, what really makes the whole experience is playing these mini-games with friends – or strangers if you wish – as they almost always have you trying to scupper each other. Trying to grab those fish with unwieldy claws, grab a rotten one and throw it in your opponent’s boat. Or then there’s the chum-gun mini-game where you have to encourage sharks to attack your opponent by hitting them in the face with some tasty chum…nice. It’s the sort of VR videogame that ideally suits the Meta Quest platform, as you can bounce around and just have a laugh whether you’re a new or veteran VR player.

So is there anything different in Loco Dojo Unleashed you may be wondering? There most certainly is. Apart from a few visual tweaks to make the experience run smoother on Quest, the Make Real team has refined the multiplayer by adding a Quick Match mode. Rather than setting up a tournament with friends firing up Quick Match instead drops you straight into a game or creates a lobby for others to join you. The only problem, this does heavily rely on player numbers and there wasn’t often other matches going on. It was far easier setting up a Table of Trials tournament with friends plus the banter flows a lot better.

Single-player has always been a part of Loco Dojo but it’s much better in Unleashed. There’s the Ten Trials Test which as the name implies takes you on a ten spin run of the game board. Perfect for getting a feel of the whole setup. Brand new is the Solo Dojo and this is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to practising those tricky mini-games because you can pick them individually. No longer do certain trials become an absolute chore because you barely get to play them, they’re now ready and available to be mastered.

Only one of the trials actually involves locomotion – you’re riding a pig, slapping it on the arse trying to navigate a thin winding platform – so there should be no issue with comfort as you stick to one spot. Because of all the arm flailing Loco Dojo Unleashed is easier to play standing but there is the option to play seated but you won’t find it in the settings. Adding to the quirky nature of the title, you’ll find a wooden step under the table that can be pulled out, adding to the novelty value.

In its newly refined form, Loco Dojo Unleashed continues to provide a superbly fun, party experience if you can get a few friends together. And because it supports cross-buy on the Oculus Store if you already own the Oculus Rift version there’s no reason not to download this edition. It would definitely benefit from a local, pass and play mode and a few more mini-games – Make Real has already said this is planned. Even so, Loco Dojo Unleashed is an absolute blast to play.        

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