G&NTFG : Umihara Kawase
Hello again, dear wanderers!
For today, I shall tell you about another forgotten video game treasure that left me a very good impression. I am aware that, of course, some people won’t agree with me about this, saying that this game’s problems are too obvious to be eluded… but after all, this is quite a subjective post, so it’s about some positive sides of a game that was forgotten for too long…
This game I will shortly introduce you is called “Umihara Kawase”. It was released first in 1994 on the SNES (Super Nintendo), and a sequel called “Umihara Kawase Syun” appeared on PlayStation some years later.
The story: a girl got lost in a strange world populated by giant fishes, seaweeds, lobsters and other overgrown, earth-trodding versions of various seafood species, and she has to find her way back home through several warping doors found all across the country. Don’t ask me how she arrived in this place, there isn’t any kind of introduction/explanation/plotline in the game, so everything is a blind guess from your humble servant.
Basically, it is an almost-classic platforming game, where you control this little girl. As soon as you start playing, you notice that she doesn’t have anything with her… but a mere fishing rod – that works exactly like a grappling hook. And here the game shows its whole interest. The whole gameplay revolves around your ability to control the girl’s movement as she hooks on to various surfaces. The range of possible moves is quite impressive, and as you chain levels you’ll quickly realize that the traditional “monkey-like swinging” move is just a little part of all the possible uses of a hook. You’ll have to do some “bungee jumping”, to cling to a moving platform to pass some places, to use your speed smartly to reach places that couldn’t be reached otherwise… All the levels are well designed, and the gameplay is really wonderful (I would even say she’s as reactive as Mario or Yoshi are in their SNES appearances). As for foes, you’ll have to fish them using your fishing rod (logical, eh?).
As for graphics… They are amazing, I think. However, I’m probably influenced by my fishing obsession. Yet, they make it easy for you to actually believe you’re in this strange world. Everything is well drawn and well animated, and the worlds are really colourful and pretty to look, although you’ll want to eat seafood and vegetable meals after a while (plenty of them everywhere). The music is cute, not as legendary as in a Starfox game, but it’s enough to make you dream.
Foes are all sort of fishes… A living dream for any fisherman! (Or is this All-Blue?)
Yeah! Finally caught a fish! I won’t be starving for today!
As for the game’s negative points… If you try it, you’ll notice soon enough : the game is HARD. Not hard as in “oh well, it’s okay, I’ll be stuck on this for a dozen times, and then I’ll make it!” or as in “I’ll have to level up to get stronger and pass this boss”, but hard as in “Oh my God, how the hell can you pass this part!?”. Okay, the easiest path can be humanly done, after having spent some time playing. But holy cows, the hardest path… It took me more than a hundred lives to finish it. And that was very lucky. Add to this that you only have 10 lives and scarce 1-ups through the whole game, and that you die after one single hit…
Finally, when you play the game… of course, you’ll get tired, because it’s really hard… And yeah, it’ll be annoying after some time, and you’d better not play the game all the time, or you’ll get mad… Still, it’s not a reason not to try it, since it will give you this dream-like feeling that you can only experience with such poetic opus, and the gameplay and the way it is exploited definitely worth the trip. Hope you’ll enjoy it (a bit, not too much)!
And if you still don’t want to try it… at least, view this amazing speedrun!