Now it's time for another edition of Good Idea, Bad Idea.
Releasing the beloved Umihara Kawase series in the United States for the first time, after twenty years of Japanese exclusivity.
Releasing the LAST Umihara Kawase game in the United States, designed especially for players who've had twenty years to master the skills needed to play the series well (hint: not you).
It isn't just that Yumi's Odd Odyssey is the ugliest game in a series already known for its jumbled, garish visuals. It's that the game makes unreasonable demands of players from the fourth stage on, forcing them through a gauntlet of ice blocks that both threaten to slide Yumi to her doom and stubbornly refuse to be caught with the title character's springy fishing line. I had to play this stage ten times before I could finish it. Ten times, for the fourth freaking stage! I know this because the game keeps count, shoving your failures in your face whenever the opportunity presents itself. Yes, I totally suck. Thanks for the reminder.
Right now, I'm stuck at the boss, a massive tadpole perched on two creepily human legs. In past Umihara Kawase games, you could hang from underneath the stage and wait until the creature gets bored and hops into the surrounding water. That won't work this time... it will just poop out eggs until one of the hatchlings inevitably knocks you into the lake. Your only chance for victory (wait, wait, you're gonna love this) is to catch all of its progeny, then lure it to the left until it tries to charge you. Then a pan falls from the sky, hitting it in the head and taking away some of its energy. Do this three times and the tadpole shrinks and makes a hasty retreat.
Ahem. HOW THE HELL DOES ANY OF THAT MAKE THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF SENSE!? Okay, I understand that the game takes place inside Yumi's dream, but even there, you'd think there would be some clue of how to fight the tadpole. There isn't. A pan just hits the damn thing after you perform a seemingly random sequence of actions. It's arbitrary and obtuse, in the "charming" tradition of early NES games, and there's no place for it in a title released in 2014.
There are rumors that Yumi's Odd Odyssey will be ported to Playstation Vita, with stages from the original Umihara Kawase on the Super Famicom. Frankly, this is what should have happened in the first place. Americans didn't have the luxury of playing the game for two decades, and needed a chance to familiarize themselves with its challenging, physics- heavy play mechanics. The 3DS version of Yumi's Odd Odyssey just unceremoniously drops them in the deep end of the pool and expects them to find some way to stay afloat.
(Good Idea, Bad Idea images culled from various online sources)