Out of very left field in gaming history comes this fun and lively update of a SuperNES, then PS One Japanese minor classic. Sayonara UmiharaKawase+ sees a young girl and sushi chef, Umihara Kawase, armed with her fishing rod trying to jump, swing and cast herself to the exit, presumably on the quest for the finest fish.
It doesn't get off to the best of starts, as its easy to break the tutorial level and be left wandering around, confused. However, once you figure out that you'd done something wrong, you can restart, not having lost much time and try to follow the instructions properly. But, prepare to be confused, quite a lot, by this slippery arcade platform puzzler.
The first few levels are pretty easy to navigate, with a range of blockish puzzles, ramps, conveyors and other obstacles. But after that, there's a lot of trial and error to get the right jump, at the right time, at the right angle, across 60 stages. The key to the fastest time is to find a novel route, perhaps using a new technique Umihara has just learnt, all of which takes time and study to get right. Just as well there are practice and replay modes to fine hone your casting and leaping skills.
The levels are mostly made of colourful blocks, it all looks a bit child-friendly but as the puzzles ramp up in difficulty, there's definitely a mean streak behind the levels. Some look a little LBP, others rather Sonic the Hedgehog, but getting to the door is key, with the few bonuses and walking fish around the place, seemingly secondary considerations.
Later challenges include ice, big drops, broken glass and fiddly rod casts that you need to get just right. Some fish are rather on the large size and I'm guessing some nasties are supposed to be toxic cone snails rather than plain snails on some levels. All that effort just to go through a plain door at the end seems rather a slap in the face (with a wet fish, if you like). But least the game runs at a smooth 60fps and Umihara is slickly animated.
The ultimate challenge, apart from completing the levels, is to get to the top of the world leader boards. However there are a few fiendish adepts at this game from previous versions, and even approaching their fastest times will be an achievement in itself. There's four characters to play as, for a little variety, but really this is one for puzzle fiends. Compared to modern puzzler challenges like Spelunky, it does seem a little dated, but the cunning mechanic and must-do-better challenge are pretty compelling.
Progress: I am not a salmon!