Natsume is mostly known for their Harvest Moon faming simulations, but they’ve published quite a few fishing games, too. Such as the Reel Fishing titles and the unique River King fishing RPG series. Their newest game, Yumi’s Odd Odyssey, available for download on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, is a fishing…2-D platformer?!? Yup, that’s right. Actually, Yumi’s Odd Odyssey is not that new of a game. It originated way back on the 16-bit Super Famicom in Japan, and has received a few updates since then and has gained a bit of notoriety among the import-savvy crowd. But this is the first time it’s been officially brought to the US.
In the game, you play as cute young lady Yumi and must navigate through 2-D obstacles to make it safely to a door. Yumi can jump, but not very high, so you must use her trusty fishing rod and line like a grappling hook to latch on and swing across wide gaps. Yumi must also avoid seafood based enemies, like eels and koi, but can use her fishing rod to hit them and reel them into her backpack! While grappling, you can extend and shorten your line to adjust your swings and jumps. By pressing the L button, you can stop time shortly to supposedly make more accurate casts, but I could never get it to work right.
Hidden in most levels are plenty of secrets. There are hidden backpacks for you to collect, and secret doors that lead to alternate paths on the map and new levels. Every so often, you must battle a giant boss sea creature, like a huge walking tadpole or a giant crab. Unlock goodies and tips in the gallery, and other gameplay modes like a Survival challenge. You can also switch to other characters, but I didn’t really know what difference that made. One could move around while time was stopped, but I couldn’t see what good that did. The game records your best times for each stage and how many times you’ve completed and failed it.
Really the only problem I had with this game is that it’s WAY too hard. It took me nearly 50 tries to get past stage 4, and I was happy to defeat the first boss! And that stage wasn’t even in the double digits! To find secret paths, you’ll have to reach hidden doors that are even harder to find, let alone reach! The game is very physics-based, but with the plodding movements of your character and the bungee bouncy feel of your line, it makes the precision jumps you’re required to make even more difficult. I wish there were an easier mode or an option to skip stages after failing them a certain number of times. Plus, switching characters wasn’t made clear in the instructions either (you have to do it in your profile). It’s a shame this game is so ridiculously hard, because it has some charming character designs and clever gameplay ideas. If you enjoy games like Bionic Commando and super-challenging platformers, you’ll probably get the most enjoyment out of this one.
The game isn’t violent at all. If Yumi gets hit or falls into a pit, she just falls down or splashes into the water. Defeated enemies just get reeled into her backpack and bosses just run away. Reading skill is helpful for the hints and tips, but I would imagine most kids (and adults) would get frustrated at the extreme difficulty and super steep learning curve. Yumi’s Odd Odyssey is rated E for Everyone.