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Have You Played... Yoku's Island Express?

Pinball whizzard

After disappearing from the face of the earth for a few years, metroidvanias are everywhere. If you boot up Steam now and check New Releases, I’ve no doubt you’ll see two or three games that promise a pixelated creature jumping around on a 2D plane, unlocking doors and paths for ten or so hours.

What makes Yoku’s Island Express stand out in a crowded market is that you can’t jump. You can move left and right, but your feet stay planted on the ground at all times. Well, all times except when you absolutely flake Yoku with a pinball paddle and send him shooting up into the air. He’s smiling, though, so you needn’t worry about harming the little cutie. Maybe he enjoys the pain. Whatever you’re into. The last thing I want to do is kink shame the delightful dung beetle. He made me enjoy something pinball-related, after all.

While it's probably down to the fact that the rise and fall of pinball happened while I was just a bad thought to my parents, I’ve never understood the attraction. The flashy lights, the garbled sounds, the fact you could lose all your pocket money in the blink of an eye: not for me. Yoku doesn’t subscribe to any of that. It’s peaceful, it’s happy, it’s kind. If you make a mistake, the game doesn’t poke fun; it gives you a cuddle and urges you to try again. Why can’t all pinball tables be as nice as Villa Gorilla’s wonderful game?

Plus, he’s a postman. And I was a postman for the best part of ten years. It was the greatest job I ever had, so I was always going to like Yoku’s Island Express.

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