Umihara Kawase BaZooKa! (PS4, Switch, PC)

The Umihara Kawase game series has had quite a long history.  It started back on the Super Famicom in Japan (SNES in the US).  It never came out in the US then.  In the game, you use a fishing line to hook and swing around platforms, similar to Bionic Commando.  You can also hit and reel in fish-related enemies with your fishing line as well.  The game was also known for being super hard, which has carried over into later games in the series.  The first time the series reached the US was with Yumi’s Odd Odyssey on the 3DS, which I reviewed way back in 2014.  The main character also appeared in a fighting game called Blade Strangers!  Other games have appeared in the US recently, like last year’s Umihara Kawase Fresh!, which took a more open world adventure approach.  But what happens when you mix the gameplay of Umihara Kawase with single screen arcade action games like Bubble Bobble?  You get the newest game in the series: Umihara Kawase BaZooKa!  It’s available on PS4, Switch, and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Basic gameplay controls are very similar to the original game.  You run around single screen mazes this time, and the goal is usually to defeat all the enemies.  You can pick from over a dozen characters, some from the main game series and some from other games, like Cotton (a cute shooter starring a witch riding a broom).  Every character has some sort of fishing line which you can use to navigate around the stages, but you can also double jump as well.  When you reel in enemies, they’ll be stored inside your backpack and when you press the button again, you’ll shoot them out as bombs, hence the bazooka name.  Defeat enemies using those bombs to perform chain reactions for more points.  But be careful because the bombs bounce around and if they explode on you or other players, you’ll take damage.  Get hit enough times from enemies or bombs and you’ll lose a life.  Lose all your lives and it’s Game Over.  Up to four can play at the same time in any mode.

There are a few modes of play.  Challenge Mode has three types.  Single player lets you tackle stages and bosses by yourself.  It’s really hard, but luckily you can start over at the last stage you left off on.  There are also two multiplayer modes that let you challenge these stages with up to three others.  In Friend Mode, you can work together, but in Rival Mode, you can damage other players so it’s a fight to the finish to defeat the enemies in the stages.  There is also a separate Battle Mode where you just fight the other players on levels using the same rules.  And that’s pretty much the game.  The areas use the same graphics from the previous game in the series, so if you liked Umihara Kawase Fresh!, you’ll enjoy this one, too.

The only main problem I had with the game is the same problem I have with all the games in the series.  It’s just way too hard!  Not only must you swing and navigate around stages using your rod and reel, enemies are also tough to beat.  Not all of them can be reeled in with your rod, so you must figure out how to dispatch them.  It kind of bogs down the otherwise simplistic and pick up and play nature of the game.  But if you have a bunch of friends around who enjoy this series, and are up to the challenge, you may want to check it out anyway.

Kid Factor:

Umihara Kawase BaZooKa! is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes.  You can throw fishing lines and bombs at enemies and other players, but you only get knocked back with dizzy stars when hit.  When you lose all your energy, an icon appears above you with text that says, “Dead,” though.  All the characters are presented in a short, squatty, cartoony “chibi” form, so I don’t really consider that very suggestive.  But one of the playable characters is supposed to be a scantily clad succubus, so there you go.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger gamers may find it too difficult.

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