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Ufouria ( a.k.a. Hebereke )




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Sunsoft rocks.

Note: that white thing hanging down in the upper right corner is drool. That you can climb on.

Now, why can't there be more last bosses like this guy?

Annoying lava section.

Love that skid.

      Every single article on the internet mentioning Sunsoft's Ufouria starts out with a thorough description about how it completely sucks that, although the game was translated into English in its entirety, it never had an English release outside of Britain and Australia. This review is no different. Unlike all the other articles, however, I'm not going to dwell on it.

      So, with that out of the way, I go to the concept. Ufouria is basically Sunsoft's answer to Hal's Kirby (well, not really: Ufouria came first). Both games feature characters that can only be described as squishy, fighting against similar looking enemies in an LSD-inspired landscape with LSD-inspired attacks. And they both have numerous spinoff games. However, while you find character designs similar to those in the Kirby series everywhere, Ufouria's characters can only be described as malformed. In fact, even characters in the Hebereke spinoff games don't look much like their originals (presumably because of marketing reasons; cute sells better than misshapen).

      The programmers (or more likely, the translators) didn't see the need for much of a storyline. So, they put together some crap about four aliens falling into a crater and getting lost in a strange world. Which doesn't exactly give much of an explanation for the disembodied lips and evil clowns roaming around the world. Not to mention the huge cyborg frog boss thingie at the end of the game. Of course, when you actually get into the game, you won't care, but it's something to think about...

      The game itself is one of the best of its genre for the NES. Which is surprising, as the gameplay can get incredibly frustrating. The world of Ufouria isn't divided into individual levels. Instead, the game consists of a number of different areas connected to each other (just like Metroid, Blaster Master, or Goonies 2). Unlike the others, however, there is only one central "save point" where you end up whenever you die or use a password to continue. This makes for a couple of the stupidest challenges in the history of the NES. All of the areas with lava require you to switch to one character (Freeon), freeze an enemy at the exact right spot (with an attack that has to be charged, no less), switch to another character (Shades), jump on the enemy, and repeat the entire process. About a half dozen times in a row. And if you slip up even the slightest bit, you have to go all the way back to the first area in the game. Of course, having multiple save points would make the needlessly complicated Megaman-esque password system even more so. But, if we could deal with it for River City Ransom, we can deal with it for this.




The Characters:

Bop Louie

Bop Louie. Everyone's favorite squishy, head-launching, suction-cup climbing gangsta snowman. At least, that's what he is in this particular game. In Hebereke's many spinoffs, he looks more like a midget albino penguin. Either way, he's the main character. He moves fast, hits hard, and climbs... well, he doesn't climb very well, but he's the only one that can climb period. He does have the tendency to drown in water and fall on his ass on the ice, but nevertheless, you'll be using him the most.

Freeon-Leon

Freeon-Leon is the most unappreciated character in the whole game. And he deserves it. Although he's essential to beating the game, he's mostly used for freezing enemies to use as platforms in the lava areas, making him the character you'll become the most frustrated with. Even Sunsoft doesn't seem to care for him much; they swapped his dinosaur design for that of a generic SD fox in the spinoffs. Too bad, though, because if there was one thing good about Freeon, it was the way he was animated (especially his skidding animation).

Shades

He might not look as weird as the others, but Shades has style. Well, not really. But, aside from being the best jumper, Shades has by far the coolest special attack. After charging, he hits his head with a hammer, causing his eyes to pop out and home in to hit all the enemies on the screen. Unfortunately, you'll hardly ever use this attack, as there's nothing else good about him. However, he's the only character that made it into the spinoffs actually looking better then he did in the original.

Gil

Gil is by far the coolest character. I mean, just look at him. Aside from being the only underwater swimmer (which is the only thing making the game's lava areas tolerable; there are a large series of underwater passages that let you get around the world quickly), his weird looking bombs open up most of the new areas toward the end of the game. Gil also suffered the most from the design change during the spinoffs, from his original sock-like design to another that was, while not as bad as the fish from Hello Kitty, much worse than the original.

And finally, the character designs in the spinoffs:

Big downer, eh?

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

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