Overview – developed by Success Corporation and Studio Saizensen, with publishing handled by ININ Games, the lure slinging platform action franchise Umihara Kawase returns. This new entry combines the tether platforming system that defined the series, with a new action oriented arcade style, similar to games like Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros. Umihara Kawase Bazooka! is available now for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (EU and AUS only for console) and Steam (Worldwide). This title will be released in North America on October 30th on console platforms, links to the game and official website will be available at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer – before I get into the review, I would like to thank PR Hound who provided the copy of Umihara Kawase Bazooka! that was used for this piece. The provision of this title has not influenced the contents of this article, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. There is no real story in this release due to the arcade focus so I will be going directly into the gameplay segment.
Gameplay – Umihara Kawase Bazooka! is an arcade styled action game, reminiscent of other titles in the genre, with large single screen stages made of platforms, pitfalls and even puzzles to solve. The core focus of the gameplay is to use the lure, snaring enemies, objects and even other players, turning them into bazooka shots and firing them to damage targets for big points.
The lure is the trademark of Umihara Kawase, allowing players to snare and capture the creatures wandering the stages, as well as picking up items that appear during play. Not only is the lure a weapon, but also an important tool for travelling around the stage. By hooking onto the walls and other elements of the stage, players can reach out of the way places and swing from platform to platform.
The game is separated into two modes, challenge and competitive. In challenge mode, take on 40 stages, divided into worlds of 10 stages each, culminating with a boss battle. The objective of each stage is to defeat enemies to earn a set number of coins. The majority of enemies are defeated by hitting them with the lure and turning them into bazooka shots, however, some enemies and the world bosses have more complex conditions to defeat them.
Alongside the coin requirement for each stage is the score system and time limit. During the stages, players will earn points for each enemy eliminated, with bonus points for multiple targets being taken out in a combo. The time limit gives players a preset amount of time to get through each of the challenging stages, with the leftover seconds being added to clock for the next stage.
At the end of a world, the high score and best time is added to the records, this gives players a reason to replay stages in order to improve their scores. However, the completion time is only recorded if the selected world is cleared from the beginning, this means that a game over will render the time up until that point meaningless.
Challenge mode has three settings. Take on all 40 stages alone in single player, work with up to three more players in friend mode (no friendly fire) and battle for the highest score in rival mode (friendly fire is enabled and encouraged). Progression for each world is carried over between the three modes, giving players the opportunity to get help with tough stages or for families that enjoy local multiplayer games.
The second gameplay style is the competitive mode, playable by up to four players online, through local wireless communication and on the same system. Competitive play is split into two game types, the first option is battle royale, pitting players against each other in battle until only one is left standing. The other is star match, where the objective is to hold the most stars before the time limit expires. If the time limit expires and there is no definitive winner, a sudden death round will decide the outcome.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get into an online game while researching the game, but I was able to play a few matches through local multiplayer. The action is frantic and chaotic, with a lot of fun to be had, featuring a total of 17 playable stages there is a lot of variety to the experience. The last thing I will be discussing is the character roster and ability system.
The playable roster is made up of 22 total characters. The characters featured are from the Umihara Kawase series and Doki Doki Poyatchio by Studio Saizensen, the Cotton Series by Success Corporation and even a guest appearance by the Japanese YouTube personality Dozle. Each of the playable roster members have their own unique abilities, two skills that can be used freely and a special attack that can get the player out of a sticky situation.
The variety on offer with the selection of characters adds depth to the overall experience, giving players options that fit their gameplay style. Each character has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, while some may excel at movement, others focus on attack power, allowing for multiple strategies to be used when taking on tougher stages and bosses throughout the game. Be sure to experiment with different characters to find the best fit for your play style.
Now with the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other elements of the game, starting with the controls.
Controls – the control system for Umihara Kawase Bazooka! has three tiers to it of varying difficulty. The easiest setting is beginner, with auto reeling of the lure for climbing and pulling in hooked enemies/objects. The normal setting is semi-pro, the lure is automatically reeled in when attached to a surface, but hooked objects and enemies must be reeled in. The toughest setting to use is technical, with controls functioning in the same way that it has to other Umihara Kawase titles.
In all three modes the left side of the controller handles movement and the lure, the face buttons are for character skills, jumping and lures, with special attacks and bazooka shots handled by the front shoulders. The game handles well in both docked and handheld play. Using the Joy-Cons is comfortable, but the optimal way to play is with a pro controller or third-party pad featuring a good d-pad. Be advised, there is an option to remap controls, so if you have issues they can be remedied.
Difficulty – there is a balanced difficulty curve to this release. The challenge for stages increases gradually, getting progressively harder as new enemies are introduced during the game. With only three lives and limited bonuses during play, clearing each world without getting a game over can be tough. The choice of control style also affects the difficulty of the game, as the technical setting adds more complex mechanics for players to get their heads around.
Presentation – visually, the full 3D style of Umihara Kawase Bazooka is pleasing, with cutesy chibi models for the characters, simple yet effective stage designs and enemies that are easy to recognize. The performance of the game from a visual standpoint is more than satisfying, while playing there was no visual lag, frame rate issues or slowdown. However, some of the details can be small even on the standard Nintendo Switch model, so take that into account if you own a Switch Lite system.
The soundtrack is made up of energetic, J-pop style tracks, combining electronic sounds and traditional instrumentation to create the dynamic compositions. The sound effects also have a satisfying sound to them, with the pops and explosions working with the game music. There is also a limited use of voice acting, with characters using voice bites and catchphrases during play, which was a delightful touch to the experience.
Final Thoughts – overall, Umihara Kawase Bazooka! is a fun and enjoyable game that diverts from the traditional formula that the franchise is known for. The arcade style meshes well with the tether platformer system, creating a game that is accessible to all players, from beginners to experts, there is a character and setting that fits all experience levels and play styles.
This is a fun title that offers a lot of content in a small package. The challenge and competitive modes provide plenty of gameplay options, from playing alone to playing with friends and family. There is even a leaderboard system where you can see how you match up with players across the world. I can happily recommend this game to everyone, the only issue I found being the possibility of reduced visibility on the Nintendo Switch Lite system.
In the end, I give Umihara Kawase Bazooka! a final score of 4.5/5. A fun and enjoyable arcade styled platform action release, diverting from the traditional gameplay that the series is known for, creating a refreshing experience that is suitable for everyone. If you have interest in checking this game out for yourself, links to the game will be below (please note that the game is not yet released in North America for consoles, links for that version will be added when they become available on October 30th)
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)
Official Website (HERE)