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Uopoko - November 16, '00 by Haze
Game:UopokoCompany:Cave
Type:PuzzlePlayers:1/2

Uopoko, released only 2 years back in 1998 is certainly quite an original puzzle game by current standards. While the basic elements it combines are already well used, its the way in which they are mixed together which is rather interesting. Taking the most Basic of the 'Puzzle Bobble' rules, that being Match 3 balls of the same colour and they vanish, and combine that with a Pinball style Ball launcher and well you've got something which is probably best described as odd.
The game uses an underwater setting, with the playfield of Balls, Trapped air and Numerous other Special Items which will either Hinder or Help you finish the level with the basic aim being to clear the playfield of all the Bubble / Ball type items before anything in the playfield hit the top of the screen. To make this harder after a certain amount of time the floor of the playfield will begin to rise every move you make which can greatly add to the difficulty of clearing a stage.
As already stated the game uses a Pinball style Launcher with which you add Balls to the playfield in the hope you can match up 3 of a kind and watch them vanish, theres no precise aim left, aim right, fire as you'd find in Puzzle Bobble, your only ingame control is pulling down the joystick for the correct amount of time to get the ball to land where you desire. The longer you hold down the stick, the further right the ball will land once you release and launch the ball, and with some levels demanding you do this with great accuracy you'd better learn the skill on the first couple of levels where you're given a guideline to indicate the path which your ball will follow.
Overall this idea works pretty well, and certainly makes a change from playing some of the other more common puzzle games although I do find it lacks that addictive edge some games in this genre have, possibly due to the only 2 player mode being a co-operative one, not a competitive one. In concept the game might have you scratching you head a little, but in execution its almost perfect.
Graphically Puzzle games have never really given us much to shout about, the focus of such games tends to be on the gameplay which is fair enough. Uopoko is generally no exception to this as it can't boast any high resolution 3d graphics or the like as you might expect from a game made in 1998, but what it does have is all well drawn, and really looks good when you're playing the game. The underwater aquatic style backdrops of fish swimming about especially look fantastic.
Sound is hard to judge. The two emulators which currently run this game have either very poorly emulated sound (Mame 0.37 beta 9) or no sound at all for this title (Raine). I tend to use Raine to play due to the vast performance benefits and slightly more accurate graphics, however from what I've heard of the sound it would appear to suit the game with the usual 'cute' music, and underwater bubble sound effects.
If you like games of this genre, and have played the puzzle bobble games to death, or just fancy something new this is certainly a worth looking at.
Graphics
8
5
Sound
Play Control
9
8
Challenge
Replay Value
8
9
Performance
2000 EmuViews