LAURENT KERMEL - Video Game Den : Super Famicom : YAM YAM )
YAM YAM
game Cover
game cartridge
ヤムヤム
©Pandora Box
©Bandai 1995
Release: 1995-02-17 (¥9800)
Cartridge SHVC-AYMJ
3D Shooter/Role Playing Game


Yam Yam (also known as Yum Yum) is a 3D shooter with a sprinkling of RPG-inspired elements developed by Pandora Box and published by Bandai. The game relates the adventures of a mole-boy called Magu Magu and his unusual pet Yam Yam. They both travel the country and undertake a sprawling adventure that spans 28 missions, all assigned to them by local townspeople. Interestingly, whereas villages can be visited en route following a traditional single-screen formula, traveling between them activates 3D shooting phases where the boy, riding firmly on his pet's back, defeats waves of vicious monsters and other creatures. These phases are at the core of the gameplay, killed enemies award the player with experience points and additional gold bars or medicinal herbs can be collected along the way. The money can then be spent to purchase better weapons, stronger armors or special magical powers. Yam Yam has few more tricks up his sleeves - although he generally stays on the ground and jumps over obstacles, he can, in some occasions, use his tail as a spinning-blade and fly around the screen at ease. However, the RPG elements are not limited to gaining experience points and purchasing skills - missions can't be activated until a number of tasks in the villages have been completed. They range from talking to a specific person, giving them some money to gather more information or even carrying them around inside Yam Yam's large belly! Finally, the most unusual feature of Yam Yam is to reset the character's level and money after each mission - Magu Magu and Yam Yam both wake up underneath a tree and realize that it was all but a dream...
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A special gold version of Yam Yam exists - it is rumored that the game was given away as a competition prize and was bundled with four original phone cards, an artwork signed by Tetsu Hiro and a winning letter. As of today, only one copy of the game has surfaced (maybe onle one was ever made ?) and it is currently on display at the Japanese store Mandarake Nakano (you can visit their website for more information).


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Yam Yam is definitively a nice idea and an unique blend of 3D shooting and RPG elements. It could have been a Space Harrier meets Dragon Quest kind of affair. The game is looking solid, with incredible character design and witty graphics all over; but more importantly, it has a wonderful sense of humor. The various cutscenes and dialogs are funny and entertaining - I love watching Yam Yam shouting at random and scaring villagers out of their wits. However, Yam Yam also has a couple of major drawbacks. The fact that you lose everything after each mission feels really cheap and unnecessary. This feature is ultimately frustrating and after a while I had a hard time convincing myself to delve further into the game. Then the shooting phases become progressively repetitive and monotonous, with the same enemies and backgrounds cycled over and over. Finally, you'll need quite a strong knowledge of Japanese to get the most out of the game and won't be able to access all the shooting phases (as a matter of fact, some parts are admittedly tricky to figure out, even if you can read Japanese). All in all, there has never been anything quite like Yam Yam in the genre and the core concept is undoubtedly clever, but it ends up being just a "good" game held back by some really questionable design choices.




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