Where do you think you're going Postmaster? This is my pond!
Yuko’s Island Express is a metroidvania as well as a pinball game. This odd combination of two genres works surprisingly well, and I'm surprised at how much I have enjoyed my time with this title. This is a very casual game that allows you to turn your brain off for a bit and just have fun.
Pros and Cons
Enjoyable gameplay that combines metroidvania with pinball
A few side quests to keep the player occupied
Collectibles to discover
Extremely fun boss fights
Beautiful art style
The gameplay remains the same throughout the game, nothing new is added
Backtracking is a bit bland and repetitive
The final boss is very underwhelming
The story starts out with Yuko, who has just moved to the Island named Mokumana as its new postman. There he finds out that the island is dealing with an unfortunate climatic event thanks to the island's deity falling under a curse thanks to the god Slayer. Now, Yuko must find the Chefs of each tribe and call them to help their deity so the island can prosper.
The story for the game is nothing too deep, but it’s still enjoyable. The cast of characters are charming and likable, with each tribe having something unique, helping to make each one feel distinct and varied.
The gameplay for Yuko’s Island Express is remarkably interesting and well thought out. You can move Yuko left and right but to jump, you will need to go to a flipper. These flippers can move you in a different direction depending on where the flipper is placed.
There will be sections in the game where you will be put into a pinball-like section of the game. In this section, you will have to collect these stones to unlock a door or switch to activate something to move on to the next area.
While you are doing this, you can collect fruit to help you out on your adventure. At first, you can only collect up to one hundred fruits, but eventually, you can upgrade your wallet to collect more. You can use fruit to unlock more flippers to locate secrets, unlock a fast travel spot, or buy items and upgrades.
You don’t have to worry about dying in the game but there is a consequence of getting hit too much, and this can actually screw you over on a certain side quest. I initially thought this was part of the game's main story design, but it is not.
There are a few side quests for you to do throughout the game that are fun. Since you are a postman, you need to do your job of delivering packages or mail to people. You will be rewarded with fruit upon doing so, which can help you buy stuff of course. There are a few other tasks that you can do to help on the island, and you will be rewarded for doing them as well. There are also a few collectibles to acquire which can help you complete quests on your adventure.
In addition to jobs, there are boss fights that you will have to complete. There are only three total, and I had a lot of fun doing the first two. Fighting them was unique as I never really knew how a boss fight would work in a pinball game, but the developers really nailed the implementation of these fights.
I do have a few issues with the game. The first issue I have is with the repetitive gameplay loop. Nothing new is ever added such as varying modes to help mix up the experience, so the fun can start to get stale after a while. On the other hand, the game is only a few hours long, so this shouldn't be a huge problem on your first playthrough.
Backtracking is another issue that was poorly executed. I know backtracking is a core element in metroidvanias, but this game just has nothing to look forward to when backtracking. I say this because even with the upgrades you get, they don’t feel like upgrades to me, as they do not enhance gameplay in a traditional sense such as powerups or skills, but instead will simply grant you access to areas or the ability to open things. This felt odd to me for a game in this genre.
Finally, there is the final boss of the game, which was a big disappointment for me both in terms of how challenging the fight should be, as well as the plot twist. Not only was the fight a cakewalk (despite the game not having a game-over system) the plot twist was a last-second one that came out of nowhere but when it did, it felt empty.
Graphics and Performance
The art style is gorgeous, with a hand-drawn look that is very colorful. I love how the areas look and feel like an actual island. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and 16 GB of RAM, I experienced no issues while playing and the game ran well.
I would also like to add that the soundtrack is well done, and I was generally surprised at how well it was handled. Each song sounds unique with a nice tone, making you feel like you are in the wild.
I was impressed with Yuko’s Island Express, as it offers a fresh take on the metroidvania genre. If you are looking for a nice fun chill game, then this is one you should seriously consider, albeit a little short at only 3-5 hours long to fully complete the story. I would wait for a sale when buying the though, as $22.79 CDN is a bit much for what is offered.