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Myah, Meyow, Mya, Meow!

Uo Poko is a Japanese arcade game. This title was released in 1998 by Jaleco (Cave made the game, but Jaleco licensed it). This is just one of many bubble bursting games out there, similar to the Puzzle Bobble and Magical Drop series, but different in several key ways.

In Uo Poko you play a little yellow kitty who has to launch balls into a pit. Match up 3 balls and they vanish (giving you points of course). It is very easy to get combination moves by eliminating the right balls (when this happens the kitty (or kitties), will do flips and tricks to show their happiness at the combo move.

Uo Poko has an underwater theme, all background animations and such are of fish, and other underwater flora and fauna. I am not really sure why they picked cats to be the heroes in an underwater game, but they did.

This game has the simplest controls I have ever seen. There is only a single input (MAME uses down on the joystick, while the original machine may have merely had a button). Pressing down causes your kitty to begin pulling on a chain, when you release the stick, the kitty will launch a ball up into the play area (how far it is launched depends on how long you held down the stick). In 2 player mode a second kitty will appear on the other side of the scree. This kitty plays on the same playfield as you, and is your partner (instead of your enemy like in most puzzle games). In fact, a few wrong moves by your partner can make you lose as well (when you lose both kitties "drown", and their eyes are replaced with large X's).

The strategy in Uo Poko is simple, just don't make any mistakes. The game is rather slowly paced (you are not forced to make 3 moves a second like in many other puzzle games). So take your time and place each piece correctly. This is one of the few newer games that I can finish on a single credit. The game is actually much more difficult in 2 player mode, as it is hard to co-ordinate your moves with that of your friend (it is very common for both players to launch balls at the same time, only to have them hit each other in mid air, causing both to land in the wrong positions).

This is one of my favorite games, although I have been unable to locate an actual Uo Poko machine anywhere (or even the JAMMA board for one). Fortunately, MAME emulates this game perfectly (as do the newer versions of Raine). There may not have been a lot of these games produced, as I can't even find much information on the web about this title. Below is the only information I could find anywhere, translated into glorious engrish.

At this play of the very splendid reflection where it resonated, points out the system of the perplexity BOBBLE a little. Three bubbles which make those go out in order to be able to touch many same colors, you must make. The perplexity BOBBLE to you with with respect to opposition like the foot fin send the bubble due to the measurement of power. In order to help you, as for vision there is there, it makes that power is controlled well possible. When the bubble, those of falling above goes out, simultaneously, it is possible to remove the other bubble. The land the end of 1 o'clock it starts the long time bus does not have to reflect the comparatively same everything to going excessively. When it does not remain anymore in the bubble which provides the screen for there when the bubble reached on the screen and obtaining you lose. In the mode 2 player, as for you it is connected and it must help the fact that bubble everything is removed. Being to be possible, to be able to touch your bubble, it falls in note those. Naturally, the screen is larger with the mode 2 player.

This game is definitely worth checking out if you like puzzle games (although it may be easier than what you are used to). If anyone can find anymore information on this title (like what "Uo Poko" means, or where I can buy a kit so I can make my own Uo Poko machine), please send me a /msg.

Update

I now have an actual Uo Poko JAMMA board running in an honest to goodness Japanese Super Neo 29 Candy cabinet. Sure, I had to get them from Hong Kong, but I have them!

The real hardware is a rather small circuit board, smaller than a sheet of notebook paper. It is a nice design, and has no batteries on it Putting the game in test mode shows that the hardware does in fact recognize all joystick positions and even 3 buttons, even if the game itself only uses down and start.

Update Update

After owning and playing this game for a terribly long time one of my friends came over and discovered on his very first game that you can roll the stick around to the up position and do different stuff that way!

Title: Uo Poko (Lots of Fish)
Developer: Cave
Publisher: Jaleco
Year: 1998
Platforms: Arcade
Genre: Puzzle
Players: One player or two player

Uo Poko is a coloured-object-matching game, comparable to Columns or Puyo Puyo. So what makes this one stand out? One very simple thing: the co-operative two player mode.

Many games have a two player mode. That's certainly not a rare thing. Some have a co-operative two player mode, where the goal is to help each other out rather than try to outwit each other. What makes this game truly stand out is that the two player mode isn't an afterthought: it's really, in my opinion, by far the best way to play it.

The gameplay runs like this: one of you plays a cute yellow cat, the other one a cute pink cat (kawaii!). You both hold down your joystick for a short while to make your cat pull a chain which determines how far across the screen a coloured sphere is flung. You have to make your spheres touch other ones of the same colour to make them disappear. You get bonus points for chain reactions, and the point of each level is to clear the screen of all the spheres.

It's something you really have to play with at least a friend, but preferably your partner. To play it well, you actually have to communicate with each other. You can talk to each other to work out when you should both take your turn so your spheres don't collide with each other, and to work out a plan together. To this extent, Uo Poko is the most co-operative two player game I have played.

Besides, it's fun to do an impression of the yellow cat tapping the joystick and smiling happily.

Sadly, it's almost impossible for most people to play this game legally - export or operation of the arcade cabinet outside of Japan is illegal, and violators will be "prosecutedt to the full extent of the jam."

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