Hello again, ladies and gentletropers! Freezair For A Limited Time is back, and she's brought with her a brand new piece of utter bizarreness to share with TV Tropes. This time around, instead of text, I'll be doing a Let's Play, right here in the Live Blogginations section. And not just any Let's Play: A Let's Play with actual screenshots! Yes, ones available to you right here in these very pages! Will wonders never cease?
Since the sucknado that was Adventurers Wanted was a bit of a strain on my system, I've also decided to do a liveblog this time that's actually of something good.
Ufouria: The Saga (The saga of what? Ah, we'll get to that in a moment) is, in its physical form, one of the rarest games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in 1992 by Sunsoft (when the Super Nintendo was well on its feet), the English version of this particular game was only released in Europe, and not in great quantities. The Famicom version, called Hebereke, isn't much more common. In fact, copies of the English version can go for upwards of $100 online! However, in 2010, the game was released on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console for the price of 600 Wii points—a scant (and affordable) 6 dollars. And There Was Much Rejoicing.
As a game, Ufouria draws heavy inspiration from the original Metroid—minus a lot of the features that made the original Metroid so Nintendo Hard in a frustrating way, such as the difficulty of getting full health, lots and lots of samey-looking terrain, needing to die to get a password, and no map. As a result, Ufouria focuses mostly on those aspects that make Metroidvanias fun in the first place (exploration, item collecting, hidden goodies), and it does it quite well. Ufouria is a nice little slice of Metroidvania action, wrapped up in cartoony graphics with some sweet chiptunes.
It is also one of the most Jesus-Christ-on-a-pogo-stick bizarre games on the NES. In fact, judging by the game's ad copy, this may be one of the first games to ever attempt to sell itself on its bizarre Japaneseness. There is some level of irony to this, since the game actually sports a few cosmetic differences from the Japanese version; mostly in terms of the main character's sprites. And it doesn't make any goddamn difference whatsoever.
Don't believe me? Just you wait and see, pal. Just you wait and see.
Ufouria concerns itself with the travails of four friends, who went on an adventure one day, fell into a weird crater, and got separated. Yes, that's pretty much the entirety of the plot. These are their stories.
Bop-Louie is our main character, and the one we start off controlling. He resembles a sort of snowman, with a cute stocking cap and overalls. He moves a bit faster than the other characters and can jump a bit higher, but he has somewhat slippery traction and can be difficult to control in precision sections. Eventually, he gains a Suction Cup powerup that allows him to do a Wall Crawl and scale cliffs, allowing for a lot more exploration. His "Secret Weapon" is a green star that allows him to charge up energy... and use his head as a mace, throwing it at enemies on a chain. His color is a cool blue.
- In Japan, he's known as Hebe. His original sprite was a bit more penguin-ish. He also eventually went on to become the mascot of Sunsoft, the game's creators.
Freeon-Leeon is the first of our friends we rescue, and she (yes, she) is a sort of dragony dinosaur thing. She moves and jumps slower than Bop-Louie, but possesses two essential abilities: One, she can swim, allowing us to bypass water. She can also walk on ice without slipping, allowing for us to make it through... Well, pretty much only a few areas, but it's something. Her "Secret Weapon" is a snowman that allows her to breathe ice, freezing enemies and turning them into stepping stones. Honestly, kind of depressingly sane in comparison to the others. She's represented by a fetching orange.
- In Japan, she's a Cat Girl named O-Chan.
Shades is the third friend we rescue, and he is a cool, cool ghost with a cool, cool hat. It's hard to tell whether the hat or his ecoplasmic nature is to blame, but Shades has long, floaty jumps that are perfect for precision jumping and getting across big gaps. He's sort of the Princess Peach of the group in terms of play style. His "Secret Weapon" is a hammer. Does he hit people with it? No, of course not; that would make too much sense! Instead, he charges it up, hits himself over the head with it, and his eyes go flying out of his face, homing in on nearby enemies and knocking out multiple foes with its boomerang effect. You want a logical game; go play chess. He's so cool, he's totally OK with the fact that his color is pink.
- He looks the same in Japan, but there, he had the name of Sukezaemon.
Gil is our fourth and final companion, and can best be described as a cross between a frog and an anglerfish. His special ability is that of being able to swim underwater—Freeon-Leon can only swim on the surface. Which you think they would've just made into a power-up for her, since she already got the "swimming" hat, but, there you go. On the other hand, he does have a large number of underwater passages only he can explore. His "Secret Weapon" is a bomb that allows him to vomit seed-shaped explosives at things. As an attack, it's so-so, but as a means of exploration, it's essential to finishing the game—giving him his own distinct hat. Strangely, he moves faster on land when crouching than he does walking upright. His color is a fishy green.
- He also looks the same as his Japanese incarnation. However, his Japanese name is... wait for it... Jennifer. Japan, never change.
The game's controls are pretty much what you'd expect for an NES game—A jumps, B is your general action button, Start pauses, and Select brings up the menu. Going to the menu allows you to change your character, look at your map (once you accquire it), and use a few specific items. One particular quirk of the game is the way its Goomba Stomp works—it is not enough to merely jump on top of an enemy; you have to be holding down on the D-pad while you do so. This isn't especially obvious and the Virtual Console version comes with no manual, so have fun figuring that out on your own. However, each character has a hidden "Secret Weapon" that can be used by holding down "B" to charge power (indicated by a heart forming near to their head) and pressing "B" again to release it.
When jumped on, enemies tend to release little balls with faces on them, that look something like this:
These balls can be picked up and thrown with B. They can be used as ammo against enemies, and usually, they MUST be used in boss fights in order to progress. In fact, the miniboss fights against your Criminal Amnesiac friends (sorry, spoiler alert) are fought entirely with these.
You start the game with only ten health (really 11, since you don't die until you get hit once more at 0 health), but have a max of 49 to start (really, 50, due to the aforementione getting-hit-at-0-health-thing). There's a few Heart Containers along the way, too. You can pick up circular health pickups by grinding enemies, or you can go grab one of the respawning medicine items to instantly refill one health container—the easier choice, and one we will be abusing.
Why exactly are these guys attacking you? You don't have any particular beef with them; you just got lost in a weird crater where they happened to reside. And they don't seem to have any reason to hate you; you just showed up. Oh well. You'll be causing their deaths en masse anyway.
This section will be filled out as we progress through the game. Think of it as our own personal Monster Compendium.
Your ISO-standard Waddling Head. Can only walk back and forth, they can't jump ledges, and they do minimal damage.
Meet the kiss of, um, death. (Really—they do significant amount of damage to you.) They slide along the ground with no visible means of propulsion and constantly attempt to violate you up with their long tongues. Wholesome!
Little balls of slime; also pretty textbook. They can jump, and have a lemming-like compulsion to do so near ledges. Thus, they have a tendency to rain down on you mid-jump.
Crows that fly high in the sky; guaranteed to get in the way of your jumps at least once. They drop weights on you. Or bombs. Well, they say "16 lbs." on them, implying weightiness, but they explode in a bomblike fashion. I dunno; you figure it out.
Small mice that only appear in the ice cave areas. Pretty much the only thing that distinguishes them from the basic mooks is that they do one point more of damage. The same can't be said of their upgraded versions, however...
AAAH! KILL IT! KILL IT DEAD!
In a world of animate lips, suicidal slimes, and exploding weights, these are completely ordinary ducks whose only distinguishing feature is that their skin is aparently pure poison and will kill you if you touch it.
These frog statues are not a threat so much as the smaller frogs they continually spawn. They require a double dosage of stompings to get dead.
Mouse v. 2.0, these guys get mad air with their helicopter suits. They generally fly too high to jump on, so they're better off avoided. But they love to get in your way, though.
Occuring in exactly one location of the game, this cheerful orange cube doesn't move, has no attacks, and serves no real purpose other than to partially block off one small tunnel (although it can be easily jumped over). Although it takes a full three hits to fell, it's so cheerful (and generally harmless) that you might as well just leave it be. Truly, its purpose is an enigma.
These jackhammering miners appear only in the lower levels of the mine. Their primary challenge comes from the fact that the ceiling is low where they appear and they're fast, making them difficult to stomp.
These patrol the waters of the game world, but they are quite literally one-dimensional thinkers, unable to swim up and down and thus utterly harmless to us until we start exploring with Gil.
These critters hide in eggs until you attempt to jump over them, at which point they spring up. They like to monopolize small platforms, and frustratingly, their shells make them immune to head-balls and secret weapons.
These crawlers from the tree area behave pretty much identically to the basic model mook, except they're slightly wider.
These oddly sassy-looking ursines climb up and down in a few rare spots in the tree area, impeding your jumps. They also stole Bop-Louie's trademark overalls! They can be stomped, but are more easily taken out with a secret weapon or a head-ball for their crimes against fashion.
Mouse v. 3.0 goes for the aquatic look. They're only found in Gil's areas and they're not very threatening, but they can accidentally knock you offscreen if you bounce one (thus causing them to respawn, thus forcing you to kill them again).
These guys swim deep in the water where only Gil can go. Their primary danger comes not from their harpoons, but the massive amounts of slowdown they incur when large numbers of them are on screen at once.
These baddies traveled forward in time to steal the Penguin Suit powerup from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and are using it to slide all over the ice. They have the lovely habit of dive-bombing you faster than you can react. Fun little guys.
Minions summoned by the flying-saucer boss, and only for that boss. They exist purely to die so you'll have ammo to chuck at the cheapest boss in the game.
These bizarre dinosaurs are constantly chewing on a mouthful of worms, which they spit out at you. Delicious and nutritious; maybe it tastes like chicken, but who wants to ask a dinosaur for a bunch of ABC worms to find out?
The first boss of the game. His only truly dangerous attack is the look of intense disapproval he is always giving you. Otherwise, he simply walks back and forth. Jump on his head to make him spawn balls for ammo, then throw them at him. He goes down easy.
The game's second boss is a bit of a fakeout. While he initially appears identical to the first boss and is fought the same way, "killing" him causes him to flip the hell out and send his head charging you on a propeller. You're immune to being sliced by the propeller blades, but it's hard to hop on him for more ammo when he's bouncing around the room. Put this freak of nature to bed with an additional five hits.
The game's third boss is incredibly "festive" in his coal-black Santa suit of death. Judging from the look on his face, you've been very, very naughty. He's a pacer just like his brothers, but he can jump, providing no end of trouble to Freeon. Only she can fight him due to his slippery habitat, and she is what you might describe as "bouncing-challenged."
The game's fourth boss is a total douchebag. Unlike his brothers, he has complete mobility in his arena, and he's fast enough that he's pretty much bound to touch Gil while he's making a swim for it. You'd best find a Health Container and stock it full of medicine (better yet, bring one with you) before taking him on, since getting hit is pretty much a guarantee.
The game's fifth boss (though he can be fought as early as third) breaks the "ಠ_ಠ" theme of the previous four encounters. Easily one of the game's most difficult encounters, he summons minions that must be stomped for ammo and his lower half is entirely invincible. If that wasn't bad enough, he also flies up and down the room in a ball-dodging and PC-endangering fashion. Getting the timing right to hit him is a pain in the ass. Also a pain in the ass is his second form, which possesses a giant laser beam and a cloaking device. Recommended equipment for taking him on: Shades, at least one Health Container, and an obliging stress ball.
The sixth boss... sure is a thing, all right. In the middle you've got a shy cat in a pipe, who constantly peeks in and out of said pipe. On the edges, you've got a happy circular guy. You've got to jump on the circular guy to get ammo for hitting the cat with. In that order exactly, by order of the Game Designers! Their arena has water in it, but that's about it. No attacks or anything.
The seventh boss continues the "cat" theme, but this one wears armor! It can't be stomped, but Secret Weapons work well—Shades' is particularly effective. Javelins rain from the ceiling, but they're not too tough to dodge and not very damaging, either. Hilariously, although this guy has a second form (like the second boss and the alien do), it's completely harmless despite the scaaaary music it brings with it.