Yoku's Island Express Logo
Yoku's Island Express Icon
Yoku's Island Express

Developer: Villa Gorilla

Publisher: Team17

  • Price: $3.99 $19.99 (80% Off!)
  • Release Date: May 29, 2018
  • Number of Players: 1
  • On Sale Through: Jun 12, 2024 [$3.99]
  • Lowest Historic Price: $3.99
  • ESRB Rating: E10+ [Everyone 10+]
  • In general, everything you need to accomplish is some riff on classic pinball mechanics. You’ll have flippers, bumpers, targets you can light up, and a pretty wide variety of surprises… including some clever boss battles. For the most part you’ll be rewarded in fruit for your efforts along the way, which act as the game’s currency and will allow you to either unlock special flippers that will allow you to go to new places, activate stations along the island Beeline fast travel system, or occasionally to purchase special things like maps that show where secrets on the island are hidden. When you’re trying to get through the game’s primary quest, tracking down each of the 3 island Elders, you’ll also acquire special items and abilities that will give you the power to do things like use special flowers essentially as grappling points or to be able to swim underwater. As you gain each new ability you’ll then tend to remember spots on the island where those would help you get to something new so, in particular, if you’re a completionist you can plan on backtracking through many areas a number of times to try to scour for every possible secret, and there are many. Probably the greatest issue in the game, especially bearing in mind that there are quite a number of areas that you’ll need to move through more than once, is that traversal can be a chore at times. The first issue is that it can be hard to know where you need to go at times. Hitting the map can be helpful to show you active points you want to get to but even when you know where you want to go, figuring out how best to get there can be the next challenge. With so many routes that noodle around through the map it isn’t always obvious which combination of places you can go will get you somewhere. Later in the game the Beeline travel system can be extremely helpful for minimizing this problem but earlier on in the game it can be aggravating. This is mostly because of the last issue, and that’s the need to still execute some of the sequences and shots to get yourself into the right spot. Some way that would kick in an auto-trigger system or a simple bypass would have been nice in these sorts of moments since they’re obviously no longer fresh and fun when you’ve already done them. All said, Yoku’s Island Express is a breath of fresh and creative air on the Switch and just what this jaded gamer needed to get out of a pretty serious “more of the same” funk. As a life-long fan of pinball I’m thrilled with the result and enjoyed the many ways mechanical concepts from physical machines managed to get integrated into this adventure-style format. Even if you’re more of a pinball novice, in general the controls are pretty friendly and approachable, you’ll just need to develop a sense of timing and pay attention to certain patterns to determine what you’ll need to do to progress. If you’re down for something with boatloads of charm and heart mixed with a style of play you’ve likely never experienced before it is well worth picking up.

    Justin Nation, Score:
    Nindie Choice! [8.9]

Nindie Spotlight

. All rights reserved