Umihara Kawase: BaZooka! Is the latest title in the long-running franchise featuring a chef which a passion for fishing and platforming. Is this the catch of the day? Read on to find out.
Umihara Kawase has always been this incredibly niche platforming series where the main character uses a fishing rod & heaps of physics to traverse levels with giant enemy fish for foes. Chances are if you’ve been gaming since the SNES era you’ll have at least heard of the series. In a puzzling move, Umihara Kawase is back and this time as a Party/Platformer/Battler which the fish gimmick rightly attached.
The game features a rather robust roster of characters from the series and some other, looking at you Cotton!. Aside from her none of the others really meant anything to me BUT there are a lot and variety is the spice of life. The main bulk of the gameplay is choosing one of the 10 levels in the 4 worlds and fighting off hordes of marine-based enemies to make a gold coin appear, collect enough of these and reach the next level.
Your main attack is to turn enemies into a ball or as the game calls them a BaZooka!, this is done by capturing them with your fishing lore. Once you have done that you are free to fire your BaZooka when and where you please, do it so you hit a few enemies and you build a combo which also creates a special BaZooka, should you use that to hit more it’ll keep your score building combo going!.
The fishing lure just like the main series is one of your best ways of traversal, you can use this to Spider-Man your way across the stage, grab onto a ledge and avoid danger and use it to capture incoming projectiles to build one of your own. You also have a double jump which awkwardly doubles up as a ground pound, I could never really get this to work and as an enemy required me to do so to kill it, it was always a nightmare to use.
This game feels like a blend of Bubble Bobble and Umihara, the best way to describe it would be if Bubble Bobble had the movement and lure system of Umihara. It’s that same simplistic gameplay loop of no-frills retro arcade action and naturally, the best way to enjoy such a meal is with friends!.
Umihara Kawase: Bazooka! Allows you to play the main campaign fully co-op OR competitive should you require, there are also online gameplay modes but so far I have yet to get a match which is a shame as locally the game is a lot of fun so can imagine the same would apply should you get a few people for an online match.
Graphically Umihara Kawase: BaZooka! Isn’t going to win any medals on technical prowess, where it does shine is the art direction, it’s fun, it’s colourful and it really suits the party style atmosphere that the developers wanted to nail. The characters have a chibi quality to them and that kind of “Minimalistic” look that current cartoons have, the stages are also kind of empty which helps with the Bubble Bobble look of the game and manages to nail that new “retro” look you get from games as of late.
Umihara Kawase: BaZooka! Is a puzzling title, I can’t imagine there was much demand for it being that it is still a relatively niche title, most people know her from Blade Strangers as of late. Regardless of if it was asked for or not, it’s not a bad little title, a little pricey for the lack of extra content, and the fact that it will likely be a gamble for those without a history of the series. It fuses the gameplay of two beloved franchises really well and gives it a nice little multiplayer twist. Hopefully, a new mainline Umihara Kawase is in the pipeline ready to follow up this nice little party snack, if you have no experience with the series it may be worth looking to the past rather than starting with this spin-off.
Umihara Kawase: BaZooka! serves up a rather middle of the road, fast food menu for long time fans.