As old school as Argos
We truly live in a magnificent era when it comes to portables. Games we would have never imagined seeing the light of day are localized, and indies are thriving with the combination of the eShop and low development costs of the 3DS.
The latest developer to take a bite of the apple is Agatsuma Entertainment, who is finally bringing over a piece of the Umihara Kawase series -- which has been going strong since its debut on the Super Nintendo in 1994.
While the price point may be undeniably steep, I'm really glad that this game was localized.
Yumi's Odd Odyssey (3DS eShop)
Developer: Agatsuma Entertainment
Release: March 20, 2014
Yumi's Odd Odyssey retains the core premise of the original series: a young girl, armed only with a fishing line, traverses a number of odd environments filled with giant enemy fish. In other words, it's a 2D platformer with a grappling-hook mechanic. Sounds ridiculous right? Well there's a reason this series is so popular, and it mostly has to do with how meticulously designed the grappling mechanic is.
You're basically free to do whatever you want with the hook, as it can attach to walls, ceilings, and floors. You can retract it, loosen it, swing, rappel -- anything you've done before in a grappling game, you can do it here. It took me a good hour to really understand the game's potential, and it blew my mind once I figured it out.
For instance, you can attach the line to the ground, jump off a ledge, and use the anchor point to slowly descend safely down to another ledge below. This is augmented by Odyssey's deep physics engine that you'll have to acclimate to, which lets you get truly creative with swinging to and fro. You can be as as elaborate as Spider-Man or as pragmatic as a spelunker -- it's your choice.
The controls are also extremely precise, and since all you need is one button to throw out your hook and one button to jump, they're easy to pick up. Should you opt for the "classic" control scheme you'll also sport the ability to shoot diagonally either left or right with the L or R buttons respectively, and you can use both the d-pad and Circle Pad for movement (the latter will have to be turned on in the option menu). In rare form, Odyssey allows you to fully customize button inputs to your liking.
You aren't going to have an easy time swinging around though, because despite the cute veneer, this game is tough. You'll have to get really creative to figure out some of the game's puzzle-like stages, since some of the goals are smartly hidden. All 50 stages will take a long time to complete, especially when you factor in secret entrances, puzzle-esque boss fights, collectibles, time attack scores, music box unlockables, and branching world map paths.
If you couldn't tell from the weird backgrounds, the "odd" moniker can be partially applied to the off-the-wall enemies, which are usually giant fish with human feet -- one of which can shoot a shotgun blast out of his mouth. It's a good thing then that you can stun them with your hook and "collect" them in your backpack, presumably to prepare later in some sort of freakshow sushi meal. Hazards are also a problem as well, and include genre tried-and-true standards like spikes and slippery ice, as well as conveyor belts that you can hook onto to take a ride.
Aesthetically, Odyssey isn't going to turn any heads, and it doesn't look or feel like a retail 3DS game. It looks about on par with a good-looking PlayStation One release, bearing a striking resemblance to Tomba. The 3D effect is also minimal, and a lot of the backdrops tend to blend together after a while. It kind of stings given the pricepoint, but where Yumi shines is its commitment to platforming excellence.
I'd only recommend Yumi's Odd Odyssey to the most dedicated platforming fans out there. Purists will love it, but the $30 price tag is going to be too rich for nearly everyone's blood. In a sale though, you can't go wrong picking this one up if you have an affinity towards the tried-and-true grappling hook.
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