Those of you who read this post the other day probably noticed the bit at the end about how I've already put some time into both Pokémon X and Sayonara Umihara Kawase since my Pokémon Center 3DS LL arrived on my doorstep.
Would you believe I've played more of Sayonara Umihara Kawase than I have Pokémon X? Well, even if you don't believe it, it's the truth.
Now, I haven't experienced so much of the third entry in the vaunted Umihara Kawase series--which, as you've hopefully heard by now, will hit the North American 3DS eShop in early 2014 as Yumi's Odd Odyssey--that I'm ready to fully review it, but I've experienced enough of it (a couple of hours, I would say) that I'm more than ready to share a few early impressions of it. So, here they are:
* If you're looking for a "looker," you'd better look somewhere else--That's a long (and rather stupid, I have to admit) way of warning folks that this game is pretty darn ugly. And this is coming from a guy who generally doesn't care how attractive or unattractive a game is. I think my negativity in this case stems from the fact that I like the visuals of this game's two predecessors. The good news here is that if you're anything like me, your hatred of Sayonara's graphics will soften fairly quickly (due to your enjoyment of the rest of the game, of course).
* I'm not so keen on being forced to use the 3DS' d-pad to control ol' Yumi--I understand that the d-pad's probably more accurate than the circle pad when it comes to controlling this 3DS title's oddly busty protagonist, but would it have killed the developers to allow us to come to that conclusion on our own? As it stands, I often feel like I'm fighting the controls (those set to the uncomfortably located d-pad, specifically) as well as each level's slippery platforms and enemies--something I never (or rarely) felt while playing the first two Umihara Kawase games on the Super Famicom and PlayStation, respectively. (UPDATE: I just discovered that you can enable use of the 3DS' circle pad within the game's settings menu. And guess what? I much prefer using it to the system's d-pad--while playing Sayonara, at least.)
* It may look all cute and cuddly (if also kind of ugly), but this game will kick the crap out of you--Granted, that should come as little surprise to anyone who's played, or even heard of, the previous entries in this strangely titled series. If you're an Umihara Kawase virgin, though, you may be shocked to discover just how difficult this version can be. My suggestion: just go with it. Embrace the fact that dying in this game is like gaining "1-ups" in a New Super Mario Bros. title and you'll enjoy it a whole lot more, I say.
* Despite all of the above, I'm still having a blast with Sayonara--While playing this game's fifth stage the other day, I must have died about 15 times (if not 20). Sometimes I died after nearly making it to the stage's exit, sometimes I died just a few steps from its start point. After each and every death, I let out a surprisingly hearty guffaw given the situation at hand.
To me, that last bit is all you really need to know about Sayonara Umihara Kawase. Yes, it makes some of Ubisoft's shovelware look like masterpieces in the graphics department (OK, so that's probably going too far), it can be awkward to control and it's often tougher than a two-dollar steak, but it's also totally unique and an awful lot of fun.
As such, at the moment I'd highly recommend it to 3DS owners who yearn for something new and different and who aren't afraid of a stiff challenge--especially should it arrive on the eShop carrying a $20 price tag, as has been rumored.
See also: 'Guess what the mailman just delivered? (Hint: it's a Japanese 3DS game and its title begins with Sayonara and ends with Kawase)'