With visual novels currently all the rage on Steam, it’s easy to pass up a gem just because it has a Japanese name like Sayonara Umihara Kawase, a platforming game starring a schoolgirl swinging from a fishing lure. Yup.
Umihara Kawase is a Japanese platforming game series that debuted back in 1994 on the Super Famicon. The series didn’t make it out of Japan until 2014, when Sayonara Umihara Kawase was released on the 3DS eShop as Yumi’s Odd Odyssey. There was a PlayStation Vita release earlier this year, and this week the game launched on Steam.
Umihara Kawase is a schoolgirl/sushi chef armed with a rubber fishing line that allows her to swing and pull herself around bizarre platforming levels like a less-rigid Bionic Commando. Her name — umy (sea) hara (belly) kawa (river) se (back or spine) is a reference to a Japanese idiom — “sea fish are fat in the belly, river fish are fat in the back.” The more you know!
From the game’s Steam description:
Easy to play, difficult to master, ‘Sayonara UmiharaKawase’ is a totally unique ‘Rubbering Action’ physics based puzzle platform game with over 20 years of gaming history. Developed by the creators of the original game (Kiyoshi Sakai and Toshinobu Kondo) and available for the first time on Steam, this cult classic was a Japanese indie smash hit before the rest of the world knew what a cult classic was!
Play as ‘Umihara Kawase’ – a 20 year old backpacking Japanese sushi chef armed with a fishing rod, a rubber fishing line and a fishing hook. Avoid fish-like enemies, conveyer belts, spikes, watery pits, time travel and more. Make your way to the end of each level, collecting items and finding along the way. The deeper in to this dream-like game players venture, the more challenging the solutions and the greater the time pressure becomes. Along the way, look out for shortcuts and secret exits and unlock bonus levels.
I like how casually “time travel” is thrown in there. I mean world filled with walking sea life and over-sized office supplies sure, but time travel?
The First Five is the first five minutes of a game with light commentary. Once the five minutes are up, so’s the video.