You have no idea how tempted I am to abuse my powers and sticky this.
Umihara Kawase is a series of platformers dating back to the Super Famicon in 1994. Until the eShop release of Sayonara Umihara Kawase last March, we've never seen the series over here (though Natsume did have plans to localize the miserable PSP port of the second game in the series, way back in *2008*.) You can get it on the 3DS eShop as Yumi's Odd Odyssey, care of Natsume, or get it for the PS Vita/PlayStation TV under a more proper title, Sayonara UmiharaKawase + (Umihara Kawase being the protagonist's name.) The PS Vita version is localized by Agatsuma Entertainment, the Code of Princess guys. It's actually a good localization, so they might have the rights to Natsume's translation but I don't have the 3DS version (yet...)
BTW you should get the + version, because it runs at 60fps and features the original Super Famicom game.
So, how does the game play...Basically, it's a physics-based platformer that doesn't fucking suck. I hate physics-based platformers, but this game is basically like taking the Ninja Rope from Worms and making it elastic, so it's not so much about rope physics as it is about bouncing up and down. The part that takes the most getting used to is the fact that you hold down to SHORTEN your fishing line and up to lengthen it, anybody who's played Worms will be disoriented when they discover that lowering oneself while hanging vertically requires you to hold up on the d-pad/stick. Your fishing line fires off like the Ninja Rope, so you don't have to worry about arcs or anything, in fact the line is more rigid than you would expect, but once you get the hang of reeling your line to bounce yourself past your hook point, you're gonna be addicted. The line can be fired in 8 directions at least (I haven't experimented with analog control) and can be fired into the ground before going off a cliff for some pretty nifty spelunking maneuvers.
Controls are dirt simple. Square and R fire your lure, and you need to hold the button to keep the lure hooked to anything (this feels much better than having to press a button to release, having the option would be a nice accessibility thing since the game has SO MANY OPTIONS for speedrunners and challenge junkies, but whatever.) X button is jump, and L1 freezes time for about two seconds so you can focus on tricky jumps (a transparent overlay of your directional inputs is placed on-screen during the slowdown as well so you can see if YOU'RE the problem.) Honestly I rarely use that feature but it's super nifty. You stun enemies by hitting them with your lure, and if you walk into them while keeping your lure attached, you put them in your backpack, removing them from the field (you can also drag enemies into pits which is super goddamn fun, I imagine you can also drop them on spikes as well.)
Most stages have one or two backpack collectibles to find, and some stages have Mario-style hidden exits to reach different parts of the Stage Map (it's obvious though because they show two arrows leaving from the Stage's icon.) Each Stage also has a small picture showing you a preview, and how many backpacks are in the stage (each is greyed out until you find them.) You can also access a Stage Tutorial which is a video of how to complete the stage without any secrets.
As I just mentioned, the game has a ton of options and extra goodies. In terms of the settings you can fully customize your controls, switch between d-pad and analog controls, modify what information is displayed on-screen during gameplay, and even modify settings with regard to your records (some characters have special abilities and you can choose to exclude them from your level clear times.) The game stores replays for every time you play a stage even if you die or quit, and you can save them and upload them to PSN which your friends can then watch.
There's a gallery and a sound test mode, with art, music, and new characters being unlocked with the collection of backpacks. According to the trophies there is also a Survival Challenge mode with multiple routes (I imagine it's just a continuous play mode that ends if you die, and the routes just refer to how early the game ends based on whether you take hidden doors.)
Note that currently the Trophy List on PSN is in Japanese but locally on the Vita it is in English. Also since the PS Vita version doesn't really have a manual: Emiko and the younger version of Umihara have a checkpoint ability (at a certain point in the level a green exclamation box appears above their head, you will restart there if you die but only once, a second death leads you back to the Stage Map.) Noko simply slows down time instead of freezing it, allowing you to make precise movements while moving.
So yeah, this game is super hype, super overlooked, and all of you need to buy it. Umiwaifu for laifu.
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