Sunday, April 26, 2009

Urusei Yatsura: Stay with You

Hudson Soft

Here we have a high school lecher and a green-haired alien girl who wants the guy's stick. Annoyed by the lad's wandering eye, the extraterrestrial "cutie" gives him thunderous electrical shocks in futile attempts to keep him in line. Together they go off on an adventure that takes them from familiar school hallways to the frozen far reaches of outer space.

If I'm not familiar with the source material, an anime-based digital comic needs to look good and move along at a reasonably quick pace in order to gain and hold my attention. Nadia was able to reach the elusive level of so-so-ness by delivering in these respects, but Uruseu Yatsura couldn't match the feat--at least not for a good long while. Its anime-style art isn't very good and takes up but a small portion of the screen, and single poor-looking slides often hang around for way too long as characters babble with one another.

The funny parts aren't funny, the spooky parts aren't spooky, and the characters aren't appealing with the possible exception of... a lemming.

Not satisfied with paining players through its slow, boring plot progression and bad looks, UY "features" a dumb tile-sliding puzzle game and presents a few spots where you can indeed end up with a Game Over (although the ones I experienced were very easy to get around). And then there's the somewhat disturbing shower scene (let's just say it ain't exactly Cadet Babbette hiding in there...).

But UY suddenly rises from the doldrums with an entertaining burst at the end of its second "act" and proceeds at an above-mediocre level for the balance of the adventure. Act 3 has you visit jungles, deserts, and war zones... and congregate with bunnies at tea. You'll need to rescue your friends by finding your way across the desert, discovering passwords that grant access to prison cells, playing lever-based puzzle games, and making doorknobs out of gems. And during the brief fourth act, you'll run into a number of interesting characters, including a cyclops whom you must engage in menu-driven fisticuffs. There's even some nice art to behold at the very end.

UY turns things around during its second half by presenting puzzles and tasks that call for relatively high-level interaction rather than the dull, mindless button clicking one must partake in early in the game. It still shouldn't shoot up to the top of anyone's "digital comics to get" list, but it's not one to dismiss out of hand either.

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