Author Topic: Least Favorite Mechanics  (Read 514 times)

Offline Princess Rescuer

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Least Favorite Mechanics
« on: February 18, 2020, 03:59:58 AM »
Obviously, the selling point of Umihara Kawase is the mechanics. However, the game seems to think the grapple alone makes it good. Less attention was given to other mechanics though. Here are a few things that keep Umihara Kawase games from classic status.

Too Many Lives (first two games)
The first two games don't just give you 3 (or 4) lives. They start you off with much more. When you get better at the games, they get tensionless due to how many lives you have to start with. Oftentimes, collecting more lives or being cautious isn't even remotely necessary for seasoned players.

Too Much Time (first two games)
You get multiple minutes to finish levels that take less than half a minute. Maybe if you were given 59 seconds instead of 5 minutes, it would be more intense. Instead, you get an incredibly lenient 5 minutes or more on most levels. It's similar to Sonic where you get 10 minutes per stage or PilotWings where you get a full HOUR which no player will ever need. This just feels like time limits were tacked on because video games need them. Speaking of which...

Weird and unnecessary High Scores (first two games)
High Scores in Umihara Kawase are even more meaningless than time limits. At least time limits affect gameplay. Not high scores though. Aside from the fact that getting high scores is boring, the number choices are so random. 88? 97? 112? What's wrong with 50, 100, and 200? And why is the default score 6158? Why not have it be 0?

Music that changes too often (all games)
You complete the fields so fast that the music changes. Field songs seem implemented at random and they could have all been bunched up together. The only places you'll hear the music in its entirety is bosses, and the bosses are terrible.

Success/failure counter (Sayonara)
I never liked this. You'll most likely always have more failures than successes. And a safety of success or risky failure aren't accounted for, making ambitious players look worse.

Having other characters be better than the main character (Sayonara and Fresh)
The series is called Umihara Kawase, not These Other People. Other characters have the same capabilities Umi has, and then some! There's almost never any reason to play as Umihara.

Hunger Meter (Fresh)
The Hunger Meter is the epitome of an annoying and useless mechanic. It's just bothersome, not challenging. You will likely never run out of food to restore it with, and you can always gather more and pause to eat it. It's just a tacked on "survival game" mechanic nobody asked for and the game would have been better without it.

Offline Alc

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Re: Least Favorite Mechanics
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2020, 02:13:35 AM »
Most of this gets filed under "Princess Rescuer is hard to please", which, fine I guess. But the following two points I have to take issue with:
Too Many Lives (first two games)
The first two games don't just give you 3 (or 4) lives. They start you off with much more. When you get better at the games, they get tensionless due to how many lives you have to start with. Oftentimes, collecting more lives or being cautious isn't even remotely necessary for seasoned players.

Too Much Time (first two games)
You get multiple minutes to finish levels that take less than half a minute. Maybe if you were given 59 seconds instead of 5 minutes, it would be more intense. Instead, you get an incredibly lenient 5 minutes or more on most levels. It's similar to Sonic where you get 10 minutes per stage or PilotWings where you get a full HOUR which no player will ever need. This just feels like time limits were tacked on because video games need them.
The main problem that the Umihara Kawase games have had, in terms of adoption, is that they feature an absolutely brutal learning curve. I have tried, and failed, to get a bunch of my friends (both online and IRL) into these games - they are simply too punishing. I look around at other fandoms and I see this time and time again, people saying that Through the Fire and the Flames is too easy on Expert in Guitar Hero, or that the Dark Souls games are just too damn accessible. Do you mind me asking, are you oblivious to how punishing you found Umihara Kawase when you started? Or are you saying that there should be a "hard mode"? Hell I'd be happy enough with that. I just want to be clear exactly what it is you're trying to communicate.

You're not wrong about the hunger meter though. Fuck that meter.

Offline Whendaleksattack

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Re: Least Favorite Mechanics
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2020, 02:38:37 AM »
I'll admit, when I first got into the original Umihara Kawase on the SFC I was oblivious to how difficult and unforgivable the game was (I could only get up to F6 at best, and still I haven't been able to complete the game as of now), so I mainly blamed myself for not playing good enough instead of the game. That mentality is still with me to this very day (even though I know about the difficulty of the games I play), but oh well. I had mentioned the series to a few friends a few times, but I do agree that they wouldn't enjoy it due to that steep learning curve at first.

As for a hard mode, I'd be for it too. Maybe have around 2-3 lives and a 2 minute timer for each level, along with (unpopular thought incoming) more enemy respawns to finish it off. Probably a bit overkill, so maybe not. I'd like to tinker around with Riverback when I have the chance, so I can get some practice with how it works (as well as making some brutal levels too heheh).

Offline Princess Rescuer

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Re: Least Favorite Mechanics
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2020, 02:45:29 AM »
I love the series, but there must be SOME reason the games don't sell even after multiple decades and lots of hype.

About the learning curve, it's pretty high, but once you're over that, the games are very short and easy unless you invent challenges like "all unlocks" or "high score". You pretty much just have to learn mechanics and that's it. Once you do, you can catch yourself on jumps you should have missed and fling yourself back up. Little known fact: this frequently used technique actually has a name; it's called "BackSling".

Most other platform games at the time didn't have that, let alone the ability to even ledge grab. If you slightly missed a jump in them, close doesn't cut it and you're often just done for. Combine that with the short length, unusually high amount of lives you start with, as well as unusually generous extra lives for an old school game, and you have a game that's pretty much over once the mechanics are out of the way. The only thing keeping the game alive after that is the excellent replay value, but many gamers won't bother if they're the type that just finishes a game once and can't be bothered with "100% completion" or "postgame content" or "true endings" and the like.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2020, 02:47:22 AM by Princess Rescuer »

Offline CyanideBlizzard

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Re: Least Favorite Mechanics
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2020, 04:04:11 AM »
I love the series, but there must be SOME reason the games don't sell even after multiple decades and lots of hype.

It's actually quite a simple answer.  The series has always been a very small, quirky, indie Japanese title.  It's aimed for a specific audience, and not mainstream appeal.  That's always been the charm behind it.

It wasn't until Sayonara that the series finally made it westward, and even then it only got digital releases.  Fresh is the first title to actually see a physical release, but make no mistake the series is unbelievably niche.  A hard-as-nails physics platformer with a very acid-induced level design vibe to it that was Japan only is far from having any kind of hype, unfortunately.  The most attention it got in recent years was because of GameCenter CX, and even that isn't a huge degree compared to most AA releases.  That was also quite a few years ago now.

The size of this forum says everything you need to know about the series.  It has always been focused on being a very niche product, and that's been a lot of its charm.  Fresh aimed to branch out from that, for better and for worse.  I've said this before on a different post, but this is probably the largest the series has ever been globally.  With Blade Strangers, Fresh, and BaZooKa coming out soon, this is the most we've ever seen Umihara Kawase out there.  Even then, if you were to ask the average gamer who Umihara Kawase was they'd have no clue, much less any idea of the history.

It's not that the product doesn't work, it's been very small, limited releases sporadically over the years that have largely been in Japan only.  Even in Japan, the product has never had a large success.  Some games just don't become mainstream successes.  Some just are simply what they are.  Umihara Kawase, as she is, will never be one of those games.  It's just not going to happen, not in her current form.  and that's entirely alright, because her adventures are cherished by those that find enjoyment and charm in her games.

Offline Alc

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Re: Least Favorite Mechanics
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2020, 03:50:12 PM »
I love the series, but there must be SOME reason the games don't sell even after multiple decades and lots of hype.
I think I'd put it the other way around, to be honest. There must be something the developers are doing right if we're still talking about these games, and they're still making new ones, over 25 years since the original came out.

I'd also say that "learning the physics" really is the game. It isn't something you do quickly and then move on. Either you enjoy the arduous process of scaling that learning curve, find the fun in that steady improvement over time, or you don't. Most don't, and that's ok. Not everything needs to be Minecraft.

Offline KawaseFan

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Re: Least Favorite Mechanics
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2020, 04:33:24 AM »
The main problem that the Umihara Kawase games have had, in terms of adoption, is that they feature an absolutely brutal learning curve.

100% this.  Forget about whether it's easy for more experienced players; the game is really fucking hard for beginners.  If anything, the first two games needed more lives, not fewer.

As for a hard mode, I'd be for it too. Maybe have around 2-3 lives and a 2 minute timer for each level, along with (unpopular thought incoming) more enemy respawns to finish it off.

I think it'd be good if enemy respawns were exclusive to the hard mode, cut them out of the normal mode entirely.

Offline Whendaleksattack

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Re: Least Favorite Mechanics
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2020, 01:16:02 PM »
I agree with Alc too as well. While I have gotten better at the games over the past couple of months, it’s still an incredibly huge stumbling block for beginners to get used to them.

Anyway, what was this thread about? Least favourite mechanics? In my opinion it’s hard to pinpoint a definitive “least favourite mechanic” of mine from the series without going into nitpicking territory, so I don’t have much to say. If I could choose, it would be the respawning enemies from the first 3 games (though that would probably count as a nitpick too) and the hunger bar from Fresh (even though that’s been beaten to death quite a few times already). While the respawning enemies are more of a nuisance in the original game, it’s still an issue that I have, while not at the same level, in the later entries in the series (and also gives me Rayman 1 flashbacks).

As for the hunger bar, yeah it’s near-common knowledge that it’s a pretty dumb and redundant inclusion to Fresh. While I still haven’t played Fresh as of now, it will most definitely be an annoyance during gameplay if I ever buy it.

Other than that, I’m still happy to be involved in this community of other fellow Umihara Kawase players. I’d still recommend the series to a couple more friends of mine (though I don’t know how far they’ll last playing), and obviously continue playing and improving my skills throughout the months to come. It’s a series that I’m proud to be a fan of.