Meet Ilo and Milo. Newton's worst enemies.
Gaming duos have got it rough. Cookie and Cream. Sam and Max. Mario and Luigi. None have it as bad as Ilo and Milo. These two guys just want to be together. They're best pals. The whole mission in their game, Ilomilo, is to just get them together. But the game is evil! It strips them of each other as soon as you're done helping them, making me wish I could call in Mr. Greene and have the two little bastards duct-taped together!
[image1]In all seriousness, though, Ilomilo is a great puzzle game. Levels start out with each character at a separate point on the map. Structures are made out of cubes and movement is grid-based, and the game lets you switch from one character to the other on the fly, which is vital in later levels where you need to trade items between Ilo and Milo. These items are extra cubes, like lifts and extending bridges, that can be placed just about anywhere and have different effects.
Ilomilo does away with any of Newton's laws. It's absolutely insane. Similar to some of the levels in the Super Mario Galaxy series, gravity is just a mere suggestion, as characters run around every side of every structure. This could have made the game really confusing, but thanks to some very friendly camera controls, the difficulty is limited to the puzzles themselves and not locating your buddies on the level.
Maps are broken up into stages and even though you can make it to the next chapter in the overall story by not playing through all levels, the game becomes easier if you take your time and explore everything. Scattered around levels are painters who have to be saved in order to color the cubes that take you forward in the map screen. You'll also need plenty of paint to do so, which is another necessary collectible.
Along with the clever puzzles, it helps that Ilomilo is one of the best-looking Arcade titles on Xbox 360, making great use of depth of field effects and very non-obtrusive colorful designs for characters and worlds. Everything looks made from household materials like cardboard, foam, and yarn. The presentation is insanely charming and polished to a crystal. The music is also super catchy to the point of awarding an Achievement if you 'play' along with it in a specific part of the game.
[image2]There's a lot to come to Ilomilo in the form of downloadable content. On top of the already very well put together set of levels, there are two extra campaigns set for release on the future. The replayability is also very high if you plan to go for all the collectibles since some of them are very well hidden. If you decide to grab a friend to play along with you, make sure they are there with you on the couch, since there is no online co-op mode. The cooperative mode is basically the same as single player but still requires plenty of teamwork, especially on later levels where there are a few spots of trial and error.
XBLA has been getting incredible games lately and Ilomilo is a shining example of how well a game can grow out of a simple idea. Gameplay is laughingly simple at first, but this quickly turns out to be the opposite by the time you reach the fourth world and the day/night blocks start showing up.
If you're looking for a great puzzler, Ilomilo is an awesome choice. This is probably the more mind-intensive out of the trio of Holiday promotion releases. I still wish I had that duct-tape, though. It would makes things so much easier for those two.