Every once in a while a game comes along that your rational brain wants to dismiss in an instant. It may be the way it looks, it may be the way it sounds, or it may be a combination of mechanics and ideas that just seem so ridiculous together. Yoku’s Island Express certainly fulfils the latter. It’s also one of the most brilliant and joyful games we’ve seen this year.
You play as a dung beetle whose job is to deliver parcels on the tropical island of Mokumana. How, you ask? Well, it’s with a peculiar mix of pinball and platforming. You see, as you explore the island with ball in tow, you can ping yourself around the environment off launch pads, bounce off bumpers and careen through winding caverns like you’re playing a mini pinball machine.
Essentially, each area is its own mini table for you to navigate, with a different layout of flippers, pads and unique obstacles you have to overcome in order to progress. In a similar way you unlock bonus features on full-size tables, you may have to launch Yoku down a certain path to collect an item or off a certain object a number of times to unlock the next part of the level.
OK, we know, it sounds silly – ridiculous even. However, once you get the game in your hands it makes absolutely perfect sense. The pinball and platformer influences flow together so elegantly, while the game’s storybook charm and gorgeous hand-painted art are wonderful touches.