Pinball is game of accuracy and timing, whereby you must time your flipper presses to perfection to aim for a high score. Now imagine this combined with a platformer and you get Villa Gorilla’s creation of Yoku’s Island Express.
Set on the Exotic Island of Mokumana, Yoku is a post bettle delivering parcels in the sun. However, an ancient Island deity is trapped in a restless sleep – and it’s all down to Yoku to traverse the island and help those in need!
Every level is designed to accomodate for your character and a round egg-shaped pinball which serves as a trusty lively companion on Yoku’s journey. Be it tunnels, large ramps to speed up or spike traps to stop you, the objective is to use the pinball flippers on the map to collect fruit pieces or glowing purple sparks to unlock a stone door. The mechanics seemlessly work incredibly well together and help to create a unique platforming game.
It’s level design is clever and tricky at the same time. For instance navigating backwards can often be a nightmare as you need to time the correct flipper to flip at the correct moment to direct you in the direction you need to go. Luckily though, levels don’t fully consist of pinball mini-games and there are segments where you can simply move left or right to traverse.
The pinball games themselves can be particularly puzzling and leave some head scratching, more often than not you need to get the correct timing on the flippers and collect the fruit that appears on screen from hitting points on the level shown by a white outlined circle or line.
What’s also worth noting is that you can move at any point on land, so if you fly into the air after activating a flipper with your controller triggers, if you land on a platform you can push forward with the analogue stick to move forward onto the ledge you landed on. It’s a difficult art to master at first, as the two-ing and throwing between triggers to sticks takes some time to adjust.
The art style delivers a Rayman-esque colour palette of shades of green and bright coloured items of interest such as deep red flowers used as helpful checkpoints for saving your progress. And even in vibrant coloured areas, objects of interest are still clearly evident on-screen.
Yoku’s Island Express is beautifully charming in story, gameplay and visually. The blend of pinball and platformer mechanics are a fantastic mix and leave nothing more to desire from the gameplay experience. Don’t miss out on this!