If you remember, Natsume once planned to localise Umihara Kawase Portable (PSP) but it was cancelled. While the series in Japan has spread into consoles and handhelds since 1994, it was unknown to West (except for some hardcore platformer gamers) until Natsume brought the last instalment – under the title Yumi’s Odd Odyssey – into 3DS eShop.
It is a real, odd odyssey: you join Yumi and her friends to hunt bipedal fishes and other water creatures for their dinner preparation. Oh well, this is not explained explicitly in the game, but who dislikes tasty dish after all?
As a platformer that keeps its style intact, Yumi’s Odd Odyssey stays true to its genre by maintaining the taste of retro platformer. Yumi is thrown into a bizarre world where fishes are human-legged, and tadpole lays eggs that will hatch into…frogs. The small, repetitive world Yumi falls in is mainly a riverbank, with pencil to sake bottle to Japanese food stuffed into. Alongside ladders that Yumi can use, you will be using fishing pole to grapple from platform to platform.
Yumi’s Odd Odyssey is not a fast-paced platformer. Your actual speed is so-so, and that is why you really depend on how you treat your fishing pole. You can use it as a grapple to swing like Spidey; a hook to climb down a platform safely; or a catapult to launch yourself far away. You need to master your fishing line; to extend and contract the lure, also release the tension you make. Precision, timing, and luck will be your teacher.
…and of course, you can fish the enemies using your fishing line.
Seeking the exit door is the main objective, since that is the only way Yumi can go through 50 levels in Yumi’s Odd Odyssey. Every level is a small area, yet difficult to explore. Because of the simplicity, they add more difficulty by challenging you to finish each level under 3 minutes. If you can do that, a record will be made, and yes, you can compare your record with other people online.
Between each stage, there will be a boss stage to defeat: you don’t really hit the boss, but to run and evade boss’ attack pattern for several time. For each successful evasion, the boss will get hit – this reminds me back to Crash Bandicoot games. Your task is to figure the pattern out. When you finally defeat the boss, you will meet an ending. Yeah, there are several endings you can unlock, with cheerful songs and cute animations to watch.
Another challenge put is to find (1) alternative door to different level, and (2) pink bags to access three new characters and features. You can check whether a stage contain pink bag(s) or not, and there are 60 doors to find, so you know your objectives clearly. Through the odyssey, you can also gain access to Survival Mode. When the normal one is to clear each stage separately, the Survival Mode challenges you to beat the stages as one route – and reach an ending you choose – with three lives.
Bear in mind that this game has its ups and downs. It is a cult game with musics you will find cheerful (I am really fond of the BGM), balancing its seriousness, stress, and difficulty. You might find yourself bored – more likely if you are not a hardcore platformer gamer, or easily submitted to few trial-and-errors. Sometimes you will find that the background layer breaks into parts, and the 3D feature is so-so. There is a Replay feature so you can watch your latest gameplay or save your favorite, but unfortunately you cannot upload it into the Internet. The last is the price: most people find $29.99 costs too much for a retro game. Finally, Natsume discounted it permanently to $19.99. Suit yourself.
Food for thought:
- If you happen to find your Circle Pad unusable, go to Settings and check the feature. The game default settings takes the control like NES/SNES joystick. So nostalgic.
- The game records the fastest time, so you can seek the door first, and figure out the shortest path to reach it… Spare the pink bags for later.