Review: Yu-Nama: The Puzzle

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yu-nama the puzzle

Title: Yu-Nama: The Puzzle
Price: $2.99
System(s): Vita (Also available on other PlayStation Mobile Android devices)
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Sony (Japan Studio)
ESRB Rating: N/A

Well, this is certainly a surprise attack! The PlayStation Mobile store has been updated with a new game people really must consider getting. Or, if not buying, then investigating. Yu-Nama: The Puzzle has been added with no fanfare, which is really quite sad. Japan Studio and Sony goes and gives us an interesting, funny, match-3 game based on a cult classic PSP series, then doesn’t bother to even promote it. It’s sad, really, because Yu-Nama: The Puzzle has a lot of potential.

yuu-nama the puzzle

Badman and Badmella are still being plagued by good guys.

I feel bad for poor Badman and Badmella, really I do. The two may be evil overlords who are bent on taking over our world, but mostly the two just chill in their dungeons, relying on the God of Destruction (the player) to help generate enough monsters to keep them safe from those invasive heroes. In the main What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord/No Heroes Allowed! series, this means using a pickaxe to dig a winding dungeon and also unearthing and managing an underground ecosystem of monsters.

The formula changes for Yu-Nama: The Puzzle. The God of Destruction picks up the pickaxe again, but now must use it to eliminate blocks on the screen to create matches of three or more to unleash monsters on the meddlesome heroes and protect Badman and Badmella. I hope people have their tapping fingers ready.

A match-3 approach to monster management.

Yu-Nama: The Puzzle is a match-3 game that has a bit of a twist. In Normal, the story mode, players are tasked with upholding the God of Destruction’s pickaxe and using it to smash whatever blocks they deem necessary in order to match monsters. If monster blocks of three or more are matched, they’ll then go and attack a hero that appears on the left side of the screen, gradually working his or her way down to attack Badman and Badmella. Matching also has a side effect of producing one evolved monster block. The goal is to keep making matches, especially of more powerful monsters like dragons, to swarm and defeat the heroes.

Naturally, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, the early stages of Yu-Nama: The Puzzle aren’t so bad, but the “boss” heroes are quite durable and strong, and can even unleash spells that seal blocks on the playing field, making them unbreakable unless matches are made next to them. By the time Stage 5 is reached, the heroes are quite fearsome and players must have pretty formidable and speedy pickaxe skills to proceed. However, you’ll never face a stage you aren’t prepared for, as players must unlock each one by beating the proceeding level. Not to mention, someone can always return to Training to get a refresher on how the game is played.

There is also a bit of a bonus feature, for people who don’t have the full 10-15 minutes it takes to complete a standard Yu-Nama: The Puzzle level. Once you’ve beaten a boss hero in Normal, his or her level opens up in Boss Attacks. There, the goal is to beat the boss as quickly as possible, earning as high a score as you can. The prize is the satisfaction of proving just how awesome you are at making quick and efficient matches.

What I really loved about Yu-Nama: The Puzzle is the tribute it pays to the original What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord/No Heroes Allowed! series. The character design and art is the same. It’s still as funny as it ever was, with Badmella retaining her habit of calling the God of Destruction, “Pickaxe.” Not to mention the graphics and music are still delightfully retro. It’s charming, really, and I’d say its a worthy spin-off to a franchise that deserves a lot more attention and love than it gets.

yu-nama the puzzle

Yu-Nama: The Puzzle is surprisingly playable and fun.

The real tragedy with Yu-Nama: The Puzzle is that very few people will probably actually play it. There aren’t many PlayStation Mobile-capable devices and Sony isn’t going out of its way to actually let people know when new games are being released. I realize the What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord/No Heroes Allowed! series isn’t exactly a priority, but it is a solid Sony series and the opening images say Yu-Nama: The Puzzle was brought to us by Japan Studio. Yu-Nama: The Puzzle is a wonderfully engaging match-3 game that’s not only delightful, but retains some of the humor of the original series. I’d even go so far as to call it a must-own for Vita owners who want some kind of brief, casual endeavor to enjoy when they need something to kill 15 minutes.

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