Versions played: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Given my love for pinball in general – and a soft spot for Metroidvania games – it’s absolutely criminal that it’s taken me this long to feature the pinball/platform game hybrid, Yoku’s Island Express.
It’s such a charming, gorgeous, good-natured game. The story, which sees little dung beetle Postman Yoku washed up on the island of Mokumana, and is instantly put to work completing various tasks around the island.
At first glance, it would seem to be a 2D, classic Metroidvania – and it can feel like that at times. However, even though little Yoku can move around the island from left to right as you’d expect in a 2D platformer, he cannot jump – to properly traverse the island and access all of the necessary areas you’ll need to reach to progress, you’ll need to learn to use the bumpers and flippers that are dotted around the landscape. Blue flippers are activated with the left trigger and yellow flippers with the right; some have an element of both colours and can be activated with either button.
It’s a short, relatively straightforward and easy game, but the visual style is incredibly charming; it’s a very satisfying and compelling experience. Not wishing to spoil the joy of discovery as you make your way around the island, I won’t go into any story details – suffice to say that it remains an absolutely lovely experience throughout.
It’s an absolutely wonderful little game and it’s available on pretty much every platform you can think of right now. If you haven’t played it, you really should – for those of you with Game Pass for Xbox One and/or PC have no excuse for passing this one up; it’s available as part of your package already. For the rest of you, just know that Yoku’s Island Express, while short, is absolutely worth the price of entry, with a hugely successful melding of genres that’s not quite like anything you will have played before. Lovely stuff.
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