...the mechanical overhaul is just the revitalization that the series needed.
Back in my day, there was an interesting little puzzle-type game by the name of Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What did I do to Deserve This? Said game came out on the PlayStation Portable. It put you in control of a pickaxe and casted you as The God of Destruction. The whole game was based around digging out a dungeon and populating it with baddies who could stop heroes from waltzing through and capturing Badman, your arrogant mentor and purposefully cookie-cut villain. Yu-Nama: The Puzzle retains the humorous narrative framework but completely alters all of the mechanics. Instead of dealing with a convoluted, imprecise ecosystem mechanic from a hand-of-God perspective, Yu-Nama takes place on a 7X5 puzzle board. It’s a match-3 game, which is a far cry from its original state, but the mechanical overhaul is just the revitalization that the series needed.
Instead of carving out dirt to make an intricate tunnel, the point of Yu-Nama: The Puzzle is to eliminate blocks in order to make three or more similar creatures fall next to each other. You can also slide blocks laterally while waiting for other blocks to fall, meaning you should be looking for groups of 3+ in vertical and horizontal directions. There are 5 tiers of creature types. From lowest to highest, there are Slimemosses, Omnomns, Lizardmen, Demons, and Dragons. (There is an alternate group of creatures that show up every third level, my guess is to keep the game from looking boring.) Most of the blocks on the board are either blank (soil) or level 1, 2, or 3 monsters. Summoning a Dragon destroys all soil and obstructive blocks on the board, which usually results in other monsters falling neatly into place, creating combos! The combo system in the game is basic: summon monsters in rapid succession to increase your combo number. When you summon a monster as your second combo, it will summon two monsters instead of one. Summon a monster as number three in your combo and three are spawned, so on and so forth. The result of the combo system is that once you get a hang of how creatures fall, the game gets very fast. All the better for slaying the ever-approaching onslaught of heroes, yes?
Normal mode contains 10 levels that are played in marathon fashion; you play until you lose. Each level consists of 9 regular heroes and 1 boss hero. The heroes descend into the dungeon at a constant rate. The only way to keep them from capturing Badman is to rapidly and consistently spawn monsters (matching 3). Each time you spawn monsters, they fly to the left side of the screen and whittle down the hero’s HP. There’s a progress meter on the right that shows how deeply the hero has descended. Kill the hero before it reaches Badman and another one will join the fray, restarting the progress meter. The game features a pseudo-attack/defense mechanic in the sense that you only have a certain number of Digs before the hero will attack you. The number of Digs pre-attack is different for each hero. When you get down to about 3 Digs, the blocks that the hero plans to attack are highlighted in red circles. The hero’s attacks turn highlighted blocks into “obstructive blocks” that cannot be destroyed except by spawning Dragons. Obstructive blocks can be slid from side to side and dropped, though, so you’re granted a bit of wiggle room with them.
Warning: Playthrough Preview may contain spoilers.
My only complaints about the game are that the music loops get repetitive and that the game as a whole doesn’t offer much else besides for its core mechanics. There is no Puzzle mode, for example. If you can beat Normal mode (which gets rather difficult around Stage 8 and 9), you’ll unlock Extra mode, which is literally Normal mode with faster heroes. There’s a Boss Attack mode, too, which clocks how long it takes for you to beat each boss hero. Since it only takes under a minute to defeat most of the bosses, I wasn’t really sold on Boss Attack mode.
Perhaps Yu-Nama’s strongest feature can be found in its dialogue/”story”. The game is self-aware, but not in an obnoxious way, and all of the characters are blatant archetypes. The whole package satirizes video game conventions in a humorous, casual manner as opposed to laying out theses about how daft we all are for falling for the same old insidious tropes over and over. The different heroes spout sayings based on Their archetypes, and Badman and his daughter give you “hot tips” during loading screens that aid with and poke fun at the fact that you’re playing a match-3 game to vanquish pesky do-gooders. As Badman says, “Touch to dig, create lines to summon and evolve monsters. That’s basics.” It should be noted that despite the screenshots on the PlayStation Mobile store, the game is completely in English. Some of the translations are a bit rough around the edges, but not to the point of ruining the game. I completely understood everything except for the fact that some heroes block either vertical or horizontal attacks. I think their blocking patterns are based on what type of hero they are, i.e. a magic-using hero will block horizontal attacks whereas a sword-wielding hero will block vertical attacks. Either way, I was able to get through the entire Normal Mode, unlock Extra Mode, and dump many hours into this Mobile gem. I can’t speak to how well the game plays on other Sony devices, but if you have a Vita and want a great match-3 to dig into, Yu-Nama is calling your name…a
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
What I Dislike: