By Justin Guillou / August 4th, 2014
|Title||Yumi’s Odd Odyssey|
|Release Date||March 20, 2014(NA), April 24, 2014(EU)|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Everyone, PEGI 3|
Today, I’m here to tell you about Sayonara Umihara Kawase or Farewell Umihara Kawase for the Nintendo 3DS. The Umihara Kawase series began as a little-known gem from way back in 1994 in Japan. It was an innovative title that took a different approach to platforming. Fast forward to 2014, and here we are at this new game. The name Umihara Kawase is written as such: 海(umi-sea)腹(hara- belly)川(kawa – river)背(se – back). So we are playing Sea belly River Back, how fun! Actually, this name is derived from a Japanese saying that roughly translates to “Sea fishes are fat in the belly, river fishes are fat in the back.” Now it’s time to see how Sayonara Umihara Kawase stacks up against the other great titles already available for the system. My readers are probably asking themselves: “I thought this was about that weird game Yumi’s Odd Od….” Before you can finish that thought, I will tell you that I AM talking about that game!
Natsume decided that Umihara is too intense of a Japanese name for us westerners, so they changed it to Yumi…. Is Umihara really that hard to say? ATLUS has proven to us that they can release a game with Japanese names intact and can still be successful. I guess Natsume did realize this eventually, since they decided to keep the original name for the European release.
In fact, I am very disappointed with Natsume as a whole for how this game’s release was treated. We have a cult classic Japanese game that after 20 years is finally getting a shot at a larger audience. That is great and all, but unfortunately, they changed the name, delayed it multiple times and did not give it a concrete release date. The trailer that was released was also very unimpressive. When the game finally came out, it launched as a $30 digital release, making it one of the more expensive eShop titles! Well… that is what I would have said had this review been published a few months back during it’s initial release. Natsume has since put the game on sale making it much cheaper! Hopefully now, more of you give it a chance because the actual gameplay is really solid and addicting once you get over a few minor issues.
My first issue with the game is that the overall presentation of the package is rather dull. The menus are very confusing at first and very bland. Believe it or not, it took me a while to figure out I can actually switch characters! I highly recommend playing around with the menus before even jumping into the game so you get used to them. The backgrounds in the levels look like someone just went into the Unity engine, picked out a bunch of default assets and threw it in. It’s true that the Umihara Kawase games were never known for having the best graphics. However, the older games’ pixelated photograph backgrounds and overly-simple tile sets had a certain charm to them. I guess Yumi’s Odd Odyssey’s visual style can grow on you after a while, but my initial impression of it was not very positive. This was a $30 game after all, yet it looked like a budget release. Now that I got that out of the way, we can get to the good stuff: the gameplay!
By the way, if you were wondering what the story was about, let me be honest: I have NO clue what the story is. You play as the titular Yumi/Umihara who is 20 years old and something about time manipulation…and…fish and…whatever, who cares! Bottom line: You have to get across several levels while avoiding the aquatic creatures out to kill you. There are fish that sometimes spawn from microwaves, along with crabs and others. Interestingly enough, I have not encountered any octopuses… or is the word octopi? Anyways, that does not change the fact that I have not encountered a single octopus. Did Japan actually show restraint in what would be such an obvious inclusion and total bait for fanart and fanservice? Maybe I have watched too much anime to the point that I end up expecting it…
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