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Umi no sakana wa hara ni, kawa no sakana wa se ni abura ga notteiru.
—Sea fishes are fat in the belly, river fishes are fat in the back.
Released in 1994 for Super Famicom, Umihara Kawase features the eponymous girl and her fish hook trying to reach doors in increasingly difficult fields while avoiding fish walking around. Yes, fish walking around. It can be beaten in less than ten minutes, but there's dozens of different ways to reach the ending credits, and impossible to see all of the fields in one playthrough. Plus some doors take a lot of knowledge about the game physics to reach.
A sequel, Umihara Kawase Shun (Shun meaning something being in season), was released for PlayStation three years later. It had fields that required even more intricate tricks with the hook, a shorter and springier line and... commercials. Yes, there were actually commercials inbetween some fields, from a company producing fishing supplies. In 2000, Umihara Kawase Shun Second Edition was released. It contained five new fields and some bugfixes, but most importantly, it replaced the commercials with artwork of Umihara.
Following that, the series stayed quiet for eight years, until Umihara Kawase Portable, a port of Shun, was released for the PSP in 2008. While at first welcomed, upon release it was found a huge disappointment due being riddled with bugs, and due to a change in physics but the fields staying the same some doors were rendered impossible to reach. This had to do with the port being developed by a different studio altogether, and was so bad that a boycott was called.
Fans did not have to be without their portable fix, however - in 2009, Umihara Kawase Shun Second Edition Kanzenban (kanzenban meaning "complete version") was released for the Nintendo DS. Not only was it a far better port, it also included the original game and had some extra fields. This port was overseen by the original programmer of the game, and the original artist contributed with new artwork. It has been recieved with great praise.
There is also a manga, but it does not seem to have very much to do with the game.
The games provide examples of:
- Anticlimax: Alright, the game has no story whatsoever, but there is nothing that even remotely hints that you are close to the end of the game. You merely enter a door, identical to every other door in the game, and the credits start rolling.
- Badass: Umihara herself is one, considering she can possibly do this.
- Giant Enemy Crab: Field 56 (SFC).
- Grappling Hook Pistol: Well, not a pistol. Just a rubber line and fishing hook.
- Hammerspace: As mentioned above, her backpack.
- Interface Screw: The HUD itself, situating itself pretty much right in the middle of the screen. While it's not totally obtrusive, it can prove to be a bit distracting at times. The only game in the series that spreads the HUD out closer to the borders of the screen is Umihara Kawase Portable, but, uh... yeah.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Fish with legs.
- Mook Maker: The buckets. To a lesser extent, the sharks.
- Nintendo Hard: This game has a learning curve. It's very sharp. Shun is even less forgiving. Also, you start with ten lives.
- No Export for You: Only the PSP port was once scheduled to come over, only to apparently be cancelled.
- No Plot, No Problem: There's no explanation for anything. Unless this is a case of All There in the Manual, but this troper has not found any evidence for that being the case. The manga doesn't seem to make sense out of anything either.
- Older Than They Look: Upon first seeing her SFC sprite, one would probably assume Umihara is still in her single digits. Her Shun sprite makes her look a little older, though not by much. She's actually nineteen.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Most enemies kill Kawase at the slightest touch. Good thing there's...
- One Up: In the form of Kawase's pink backpack.
- Platform Game
- Respawning Enemies: Everything except for the Octopi and bosses.
- Spikes of Doom
- Sprite Polygon Mix: Shun has the stages built out of polygons while everything else are sprites.
- Timed Mission: Every field has a time limit. There's also a global timer, and the longer you play the game, the more likely is it that you will reach an ending field. Field 28 (again, SFC) is only possible to reach this way, after having played for 30 minutes.
- Unmoving Plaid: The moving blocks in Shun are like this.
- What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Again, fish. With legs.