Umihara Kawase

Umihara Kawase

Infobox VG
title = Umihara Kawase

developer = TNN
publisher = NHK
designer =
engine =
released = vgrelease|JP=1994-12-23
genre = Platform game
modes = Single player
ratings =
platforms = Super Famicom
media =
requirements =
input =

nihongo|"Umihara Kawase"|海腹川背 is a series of platform games, starring a nineteen year old Japanese school girl of the same name, who has somehow become lost in a world of mutated salt-water and fresh-water creatures. She wears her school uniform along with a bright pink rucksack.

The Umihara Kawase games' main distinction is their tranquil fish and bird infested worlds and the Tarzan style gameplay nature.

The name is written as four kanji characters: "umi", "hara", "kawa", "se" meaning sea, belly, river, back. This is an extraction from a Japanese kitchen idiom "Sea fishes are fat in the belly; river fishes are fat in the back.". Shun means "in season".

The protagonist was first seen in the eponymous Super Famicom release of 1994 and later the sequel and re-release of "Umihara Kawase Syun" (海腹川背・旬 "Umihara Kawase Shun") for the PlayStation in 1997 and 2000. Very little information is known about the developers behind the Umihara Kawase series.


The game was an independent collaboration between developer Kiyoshi Sakai, illustrator Toshinobu Kondo, and several others. [] It was released under the label TNN, "Think about Needs of Notice for human being".


The game world of Umihara Kawase is constructed from a set of interconnected levels known as fields. Each field connects to one or more fields deeper within the game via doors.

Fields are enclosed areas containing a number of static and moving platforms, ladders, spikes, enemy sea-life and one or more exit doors. The doors are often positioned in hard to reach places and it is the player's goal to plan a safe route to one. Each exit door in a field takes the player to a different field.

One completes the game by finding a safe route through the fields and finding a door to exit the world. Each of the Umihara Kawase games contains multiple routes through the fields and multiple exits.

The Umihara Kawase games have simple controls, she is able to run, jump, climb onto ledges, climb ladders and most importantly throw her fishing line.

Her fishing line when thrown will hook onto nearly all surfaces within the games. When the line is firmly hooked onto a surface or an enemy fish the line is able to take her weight. From here Umihara is able to swing between platforms, lower herself down to other ledges and swing herself up to higher ledges. Due to the rubberised nature of her line she can also catapult herself great distances by stretching the line to breaking point.The line can also be used to stun fish and reel them in, once reeled in Umihara will store them in her rucksack and score points in doing so.

While the controls are simple and responsive, an uncompromising physics model means that graceful control of the game's swinging techniques will not come immediately. Out of this though too comes great scope for advanced techniques through full utilization of the physics. Perfect execution of techniques such as the one and two step rocket jump are required both in later fields and for those who intend to improve their field completion times.

The games contain 1ups in the shape of Umihara's pink rucksack but no other collectibles are present.

Umihara Kawase

"Japanese: 海腹川背 Ref: SHVC-ATAJ-JPN. RRP: ¥9,800"

Umihara Kawase contains a total of 49 fields of which four are exit fields and six are boss fields. The game makes good use of the SFCs colour palette for digitized photographic backgrounds. The rope physics often strain the Super Famicom's CPU leading to slow down.Of the Umihara Kawase games the original contains the largest variety of enemies; their quantity in numbers is high throughout the game while the sequels focus more firmly on field design with enemies providing minor obstacles to progress.

Umihara Kawase Syun

Infobox VG
title = Umihara Kawase Syun

developer = Jackpot
publisher = XING
designer =
engine =
released = vgrelease|JP=1997-09-22vgrelease|JP=2000-01-01 (second edition)
genre = Platform game
modes = Single player
ratings =
platforms = PlayStation
media = CDROM
requirements =
input =

"Japanese: 海腹川背・旬 Ref: SLPS-00643 RRP: ¥5,800 (¥6,090 inc. tax)"

The move to a 3D side-on game world with the PlayStation launch of "Syun" opened up the fields to more complex layouts using a great deal of angled and jutting blocks. The central gameplay change is slightly improved line physics along with no hint of slowdown.The number of enemies within fields is lower than in the prequel game as is the rate at which enemies appear allowing the player more time to interact with the fields.An important addition to the game is the introduction of a field select for time trialing. Time trial within the Umihara Kawase games have become popular due to the complex fields and game physics.Some question the wisdom of moving to a 3D game world pointing to the lessened ability to identify the exact point in space where platforms begin and end.

Umihara Kawase Syun - second edition, Maruan series #1

"Japanese: マル安シリーズ1 海腹川背・旬 ~セカンドエディション~ Ref: SLPS-02549 RRP: ¥3,800 (¥3,990 inc. tax)"

The second edition was launched almost three years after Syun at a lower price as part of the Maruan series and contains some notable changes. This release contains five additional fields taking the total to fifty five. The games cut-scenes have been altered however with the removal of all Mitchell branding.

Additional Fields

The Japanese magazine "TECH PlayStation Extra" contains 3 new fields in each of its June and July 1997 issues along with guides to complete them.

Umihara Kawase Portable

Infobox VG
title = Umihara Kawase Portable

developer = Rocket Studios
publisher = Motion bank/Marvelous Entertainment Inc
designer =
engine =
released = vgrelease|JP=2008vgrelease|NA=TBA
genre = Platform game
modes = Single player
ratings =
platforms = PlayStation Portable
media = UMD
requirements =
input =

Although based almost entirely on the level design and visual aesthetic of the Shun games, Umihara Kawase Portable nevertheless disappointed fans [ [ Forum thread discussing Umihara Kawase Portable] ] and critics [ [ 1up review of the game] ] alike on release, due to a bug-ridden physics engine, which differed in crucial aspects to its predecessors. Further criticism was levelled at the new visual perspective, which sometimes interfered with play.On July 14, 2008, it was announced that the game would be coming to U.S. under the title Yumi's Odd Odyssey. [ [ Yumi's Odyssey announcement] ]

Umihara Kawase Portable was not developed by Super Famicom and PS version developer, Kiyoshi Sakai, instead being developed by Rocket Studio. Many Japanese fans felt anxious about Umihara Kawase Portable prior to release, and were disappointed and angry afterwards. [ [ Umihara Kawase Portable Yobo Matome wiki Problems page (Japanese)] ] Accordingly, they protested Marvelous Entertainment sales agency and Motion Bank, and staged a boycott. [ [ Umihara Kawase Portable Yobo Matome wiki (Japanese)] ]

Additional Media

* Umihara Kawase Super Famicom promotional poster
* Umihara Kawase Hyper Technique guidebook (ISBN 4-7962-0273-0. Publication: 29 March 1995").
* Stray Sheep Volume 5 - Happy Angel (Toshinobu Kondo Personal Works). This edition of the Japanese illustration magazine contains works by Toshinobu Kondo, many of which are of Umihara Kawase (cover included).
* Umihara Kawase Syun second edition phone cards.
* Umihara Kawase Syun Capture Guidebook (ISBN 4-900700-37-1. RRP: ¥922 (¥950 inc. tax). Publisher: T2 Publishing Co. Ltd. Publication: 31 March 1997). Full colour guide book includes gameplay basics, enemies, field maps with routes and "Toshinobu Kondo presents" artwork section.
* Umihara Kawase Syun Perfect Guide Book (ISBN 4-88199-337-2. RRP: ¥1243 (¥1280 inc. tax). Publisher: Shinseisha. Publication: March 1997). Full colour three part techniques section, monochrome field maps and guide.
* TECH PlayStation Extra CD-ROM magazine. The June and July 1997 issues (SLPM-80100 and SLPM-80108) of this Japanese publication contain 3 new fields each along with information on techniques required to complete them all.


External links

* [ Hyper Education -Umihara Kawase SHUN] A Japanese site providing field by field howtos for Umihara Kawase Syun.
* [ Twin Dreams - Umihara Kawase Shun] A review of Syun.
* [ Umihara Kawase game review] Alan Kwan's Umihara Kawase page.
* [ Umihara Kawase Syun] product page.
* [ Umihara Kawase Syun second edition] product page.
* [ Umihara Kawase] at - A site containing detailed info on Umihara Kawase's inner workings, maps, and Tool Assisted Speedruns.
* [ Umihara Kawase Runs] Game play videos showing paths through every level to every exit.
* [ Umihara Kawase Portable Yobo Matome wiki] Report on Umihara Kawase Portable's bugs and corruption page.

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