STAFF REVIEW of Ufouria: The Saga 2 (Xbox One)

Monday, April 8, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Ufouria: The Saga 2 Box art Back in the NES era, if you rented a game that had the SUNSOFT logo, you knew you were generally in for a good time. While I may be aging myself there a bit, SUNSOFT has been around since 1978, bringing a handful of memorable classic titles that I remember fondly from my childhood. One of their most unique titles though, Ufouria: The Saga, released in 1991, was one that I never got to play, though that was because it was only ever released in JP and EU, skipping North America.

That said, I found it odd that such an obscure title in their library finally gets a sequel more than three decades later with Ufouria: The Saga 2. It’s said that the characters from these games were once going to be SUNSOFT’s mascots of sorts, though never really worked out that way even though they did get a few cameo’s here and there. Gaming has changed dramatically in the last three decades, and the classic NES title now looks vastly improved with its unique and disgusting adorable art style.

You begin as Hebe, a penguin-like creature with an adorable blue toque for a hat. You awake in your bedroom, which happens to be atop a tree, consisting of your bed and a toilet, also acting as the game’s main hub. You’re interrupted by a strange alien in a UFO who throws bumyons, a purple goo-like substance that sticks to anything it touches. Thankfully Hebe has popoons, the inverse to this sticky goo, a furry Tribble-like creature that absorbs and destroys the goop. So you start out on your quest to stop this alien and clean up your home with your trusty popoons.

While the main plot is for you to stop this alien and get rid of the annoying bumyons, it’s really about making friends and exploring the world for coins and secrets. The first few bosses you defeat allow you to have companions that will accompany you on your journey, each with their own ability that will allow you to progress further. Some will only join once you buy them something they desire from the local vending machine at your home, so save those coins, as you’re going to need all the help you can get.

If you’ve played the original obscure game, the characters will all seem familiar, as they make a return. While the original NES game wasn’t visually pretty by any means, Ufouria 2 is absolutely charming and stunning with its design, appearing as if the world is created by fabric and felt for its backdrops and perler beads that border the text boxes and make up firework animations when a boss is defeated.

A sidescrolling platformer at its core, there’s also some Metroidvania elements thrown in as you’ll be revisiting areas numerous times as you gain new friends with their abilities. The clever way this is done is by giving each companion a different ability, rather than your single character magically getting new skills to jump higher or swim, etc. Like any good Metroidvania, you’ll reach areas you can’t access yet until you have a specific ability and friend alongside.

The world’s layout for zones is static, but what’s interesting is that each time you enter a zone, it’s slightly different each time, randomized for its layout. This prevents the game from becoming stale, as you’ll sometimes need to pass through zones a handful of times, so at least each time is different slightly. Levels will also give you an objective to complete if able, giving a bonus that's usually coins. These optional objectives vary from not getting hit, killing a certain amount of enemies or racing to complete it under a certain time for example, and while not overly challenging, at least gives you a focus if you want the bonus coins or cans.

While not a terribly long or challenging game, the first portion will have you going to new areas, defeating a boss, then gaining that companion after you buy them the item they desire. The second half is using all your new companions abilities to their fullest so you can get to new areas to collect more coins and precious tin cans needed for the vending machine upgrades and unlocks.

Swapping characters once they’ve decide to join you is done with a simple press of either Bumper. This has them give a high fine to one another and swap out the current character for the next. Each character is unique from one another, not just in their ability, but how they look and even walk. While you won’t have a traditional gridded map to remind you of the world’s layout, it’s just remembering where that large gap you couldn’t jump across was before, or the pool of water you couldn’t swim through.

Combat is simplistic in nature, having you either throwing your popoons to destroy the purple goop, or to stun enemies, though there's a little delay as it refreshes to be used again. You can also butt stomp enemies as well for extra coins. The only complaint I have about the butt stomping is that you need to be perfectly in line of the enemy, as if you don’t exactly stomp in the middle of the enemy’s hitbox, it’ll count as a hit against you and you’ll lose a heart. Honestly, the only times I ever really got hit was when I wasn’t perfectly lined up for my butt stomps. A quick popoon hit will stun them in place for a few moments, making it easier to line up your butt attack though.

Even the stage bosses don’t pose much of a threat, as you simply need to butt stomp them three times after removing their bumyon with a timed popoon attack first. Only the final boss is slightly different, though Ufouria 2 isn’t a challenging game by any means. After a boss you’ll come to a room with a chubby bird that offers to fly you home for free if you wish, netting all the coins and cans you’ve found along the way.

Back at home you’ll have a vending machine which is where you can purchase new items and upgrades when you have enough coins and cans. The amount of cans you’ve collected determines what items you’ll have access to and to purchase, you’ll need enough coins to actually purchase them though. Thankfully there wasn’t much need to grind levels for coins, as I generally always had enough for what I needed without having to do another run of collections.

There’s a shocking amount of items and upgrades to buy, and while a majority is optional, it’s always nice to have more hearts, adding challenge rooms, portals to get around the world quicker and more. You can even purchase optional abilities for characters, which is how you’ll find all of Ufouria’s secrets. I kept wanting to find more of the tin cans to see what the next upgrade was so that I could then purchase it and see how it changes the world.

Ufouria 2 is one of the most visually charming and disgustingly cute games I’ve played in recent memory. The world aesthetic of being crafted from layered felt reminded me a lot of Yoshi's Woolly World and how it too had bright colors and simply made you smile gazing upon it. The perler beads also add a nice touch and Ufouria 2’s arts and crafts visual flair just make it a joy to appreciate. The soundtrack is whimsical, and while there’s no voice over, the sound effects are just as cute as you’d expect along the journey.

While it may be a tad on the expensive side ($31.99 CAD), I quite enjoyed my time with it alongside Hebe and friends exploring their world, certainly memorable for its unique design and colorfulness. Ufouria: The Saga 2 is a sequel that I don’t think anyone asked for, or saw coming, but I’m all for it given how adorable is all is. It’s a small and quirky game that’s certainly on the easy and casual side, but sometimes a game like that is a welcome change.

**Ufouria: The Saga 2 was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.2 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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