Yumi’s Odd Odyssey Review: There’s no Room for Imperfection

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Title: Yumi’s Odd Odyssey
Price: $29.99
System(s): 3DS (eShop Exclusive)
Release Date: March 20, 2014
Publisher (Developer): Natsume (Studio Saizensen)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone” for

I’ve seen people accomplish amazing things in Yumi’s Odd Odyssey. I’ve seen them ratchet up walls and along ceilings as though it were nothing, speedrun through seemingly impossible boss battles, and find all kinds of secret backpacks and doors. I know it’s possible, because I’ve watched it in action online, as I desperately attempt to find out why I can’t do the same. Incredible platforming feats are possible, and I just wish I were also able to perform them.

Why am I here?

yumis odd odysseyTrying to explain Yumi’s Odd Odyssey‘s point and purpose is like trying to explain a fever dream. It can make sense to you while it’s happening, but there’s no possible way you’ll be able to make others understand.

The best I can do is say there’s a girl named Yumi who must, for some reason, is attempting to traverse 50 levels filled with strange artifacts and assorted variations of marine life that somehow are walking around on two legs. Fortunately, she has a fishing pole that can only be described as magic. It not only can be used to catch the fish and reel them in, so they can be devoured by her equally magic backpack, but also to rappel, swing, and climb around her world.

Ever so demanding.

yumis odd odysseyAs a platformer, Yumi’s Odd Odyssey demands accuracy. And, for those will to tinker around with the options, there’s a chance you’ll get it. There are multiple control schemes, as well as the ability to set your own, and a big part of your success is finding the one that works for you. I’d say enabling the Circle Pad is a good start, since the game starts with it disabled, but I actually found I preferred the D-pad for Yumi’s movements. Another key is to go with Classic Controls, so the shoulder buttons will automatically send out Yumi’s fishing line at a 45 degree angle to the left or right. A good player is always moving, keeping the momentum going, and having the right shortcuts in place will guarantee it.

I say this is key because if you let Yumi stop, even for a moment, you’re probably going to end up failing the level. Even early on in Yumi’s Odd Odyssey, say level 7, you’ll learn that she must always be moving. Starting from a stagnant point results in jerky, halting movements and you definitely won’t get the same reach and distance.

I think this is part of why Yumi’s Odd Odyssey is so difficult. The game demands perfection. There is no leeway, and absolutely no forgiveness. If you don’t have the basics down by the end of the third level, you’re on your own. There will be no hand-holding. Getting through levels can come down to muscle memory and perfect timing. Leap here, hook onto that wall, release midswing and send the line out at an angle, hook onto the floor, and hopefully drop down on the same platform as the door. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it may take 10 tries per level, after 7th level, to have her perfectly meander her way to safety. If you’re going for the secret doors, double or triple that number.

Which, I found, often deterred a mediocre player like myself for searching for the secrets in each level. The bottom screen shows a level map, letting players know where branching paths lie. But, when even reaching the standard, “official” exit is punishing difficult, it really puts you off going back and trying to reach the extra exit. It’s a shame, because there are so many options there, with even four possible endings to reach depending on how skilled a player is. Some may not even unlock the different playable characters, with their own skillsets.

It also makes the inclusion of a Survival Mode seem even more sadistic. I think even the most hardened Dark Souls player would pale after about 9 levels of Yumi’s Odd Odyssey, and the thought of going through it in a mode that limits your lives.

Good that we got it, but not everyone will want it.

yumis odd odysseyNatsume has done gamers a huge favor by localizing Yumi’s Odd Odyssey. With five Umihara Kawase games available in Japan from 1994 until now, it’s criminal that we’re only just seeing the series. Especially since they’re so import friendly. It’s a piece of history. That said, it’s the kind of game people will be glad is available, but probably won’t play. Only the most patient, dedicated, and skilled players will adore Yumi’s Odd Odyssey, with it’s finicky controls and demand for excellence. The rest might pick it up, play until the first tadpole boss leaves them stumped, and move onto something less difficult… like Dark Souls II.

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