TGS 2018: Umihara Kawase Fresh Hands-on Impressions (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Monday, September 24, 2018

TGS 2018: Umihara Kawase Fresh Hands-on Impressions (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

Umihara Kawase makes the jump to HD and the Switch. 

Outside of the 3DS title Yumi’s Odd Odyssey, the Umihara Kawase series isn’t known to many gamers in the West. Even with the 3DS entry in the series, the game didn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire and is still a bit of an unknown quantity. Regardless, a new Umihara Kawase game, titled Umihara Kawase Fresh, is set to release on the Switch in Japan in 2019. The demo that the publisher, Success, brought to TGS 2018 featured three different levels, two of which were more or less the same. The other stage was a boss fight, which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to play.

Controls in Fresh are easy to grasp but pretty difficult to master. On top of a simple jump, players also have the ability to use a fishing rod to grapple to surfaces and take out enemies. Once attached to a platform, players can use this as a grappling hook to propel themselves across chasms or other dangers. When attached, you don’t take control of what the “rope” does directly, but rather are controlling what the character is doing. It’s really a momentum based mechanic that is super challenging to get the hang of in such a short demo.
To clear the stages, players have to reach a goal placed somewhere in the level. In an effort to help out scrubs like myself, the stages had signs showing the general direction to go. In another helpful gesture, vines are placed in areas that allow players to easily get to higher areas by simply climbing. While I was incredibly grateful for these nice additions, the vines almost seem to take away from making use of the grappling mechanics. Without using these mechanics, the game is just an average platformer at best.

Visually, Umihara Kawase is pretty average, which seems pretty on par for the series. It’s never been about wowing people with top of the line graphics. The levels that I did get to play featured lots of colorful floating platforms and a variety of ways to reach them. There were a few fish based enemies also spread throughout the stages that look serviceable. The game runs super smoothly which is a must when it comes to something requiring this much precision.

There were a few platforming platforms that appear to have no textures whatsoever on them. After taking a closer look, these blocks are actually made of ice which explains the lack of detail when compared to the other platforms. Of course, when walking on these ice platforms, they’re just what you would expect - slippery.

While the demo for Fresh was a little on the short side, it did do a good job at showing a small piece of what the Umihara Kawase series is about. The mechanics are sound, but it can be pretty difficult to use the grappling mechanic efficiently. Still, this is definitely a title to be on the look out for.

No comments: