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Alexandre Guimond

Retro Review: Ufouria: The Saga

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From the moment we were able to download our favorite classic games off the PSN, or the various NES titles that shaped our childhoods on the Wii Virtual Console; Japanese game localization has been blooming like dandelions. We’ve been given the “best” out of Japan in the past few years, and all those forbidden gems are now available for all to play, (at pretty reasonable prices too). Sunsoft has already brought Blaster Master, Aero the Acrobat, and Super Fantasy Zone to Nintendo’s Virtual console. And in order to complete the quartet, they released Ufouria: The Saga last Monday. This game was sought after by collectors for many years, since it had been released everywhere on the planet except for North America; mainly because it is considered by some to be one of the best hidden gems of the NES. Ufouria blends Blaster Master with Duck Tales, and adds a tad sip of Metroid into the mix, but is it worth re-exploring?

Well, considering the game was made almost two decades ago, surprisingly it can easily be mistaken for a contemporary indie title – which is truthfully enough, not a bad thing at all. While playing the game, you’ll find the inescapable parallel between “DoReMi Fantasy” and “Ufouria” quite astounding. Both games were released at the very end of their respective console lifespan (i.e., the NES and SNES), and were also to some degree, the pinnacle in terms of performance of what the consoles could really do.

Indeed, Ufouria has amazing sprite graphics for an NES game. The colors are bright and diverse, although there isn’t much detail in the environment per say, the cartoony feel removes the need for realism. Ufouria is a very Japanese game, from its character emotions, and graphical design, to its core gameplay. It has a quirky and weird mid-80s Anime vibe to it, especially in the character facial expressions. The humour is pretty inoffensive, but is still quite unusual seeing how detailed sprite arts aren't replicated often on the NES.

The game is a mixes of a lot of classic Famicom titles. It borrows a lot from Blaster Master of course -- it also takes from Duck Tales, Mega Man, and Metroid, many of the action adventure goodness that the NES is so famous for. At the expense of being a little bit too simplistic in its calling, the game does suffers a lot in its length. It does lead the way for speed-runs, yet the item acquisition is somewhat linear and very restrictive in which path you can partake. Because of that, the world is ridiculously small compared to its relative Zebes labyrinth as well.

As mention earlier, Ufouria’s gameplay is incredibly Japanese due to some very, unusual design decisions. It is not the first time such a thing has ever occurred on the platform, but it still comes back to haunt the game. Yet, having to press down on the d-pad every time you have to perform the good old stomp, is annoying. And since the jumping is not perfectly accurate, it can be frustrating. There’s always a way to work around such matter, but you cannot escape the instability of the platforming.

That being said, Ufouria is still pretty decent nonetheless. The diversity of each character makes the game more interesting, since each of them has a special environmental ability that can be use to your advantage. Still, as a recurrent poltergeist, the bad video game design keeps on haunting the game back forcing you to enter a menu, in order to change characters. It is the same principle as changing weapons in Mega Man, but it gets pretty annoying when this swap makes blocks, sometimes even enemies reappear. It’s kind of buggy in that sense, but it's not terribly game breaking either; meaning that you won’t get stuck anywhere because of that.

But let’s be honest for a second, this is after all an 18 year old game. The video game medium has evolved quite a lot since that time, and for that Ufouria doesn’t deserve that much criticism. The game is fun, short, and quirky enough to please pretty much all Famicom gems fanatics. And for 600 Wii-points, it’s worth discovering even after such a long time. Ufouria still is a neat little title.

Ufouria: The Saga is published by Sunsoft and is available on the Wii Virtual Console.

Alexandre Guimond
Assistant Editor

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Updated 06-09-10 at 07:33 by SteveSawyer

Tags: imports, nes Add / Edit Tags


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