This Ridiculously Fun Pinball Platformer Stars an Adorable Dung Beetle

I got the chance to play the beautiful Yoku's Island Express yesterday at E3, and the experience left me with one main question—why don't more games integrate pinball mechanics into their platforming?

In the upcoming game from Villa Gorilla, you play as Yoku, a bright red dung beetle who moves to the island of Mokumana to become their new postman. To successfully deliver the mail, you'll have to traverse the massive island. Rolling your ball along the trail, you'll soon encounter tunnels that can only be traveled by utilizing pinball-style bumpers, which players activate using the shoulder buttons. Check out the video below to see it in action.

As I played a couple of the game's segments, I also got to chat with the Villa Gorilla Mattias Snygg, who also did art and design for the game. He explained that during Yoku's mail-delivering journey, he'll also have to deal with an island god causing a series of horrible earthquakes on Mokumana and unravel the mystery behind what's making him so restless.

Yoku's Island Adventure Yoku the postman meets cabbage cat

(via Villa Gorilla)


When Yoku's not in a pinball section, he moves left and right with the joystick just like in a traditional platformer. There are also certain characters and props he can interact with through a button press.

Yoku's Island Adventure: basic ball rolling

(via Villa Gorilla)

Unlike in other platformers, Yoku can't jump on his own, but when he encounters a pinball section, he can rise to great heights with the creative use of bumpers and flippers. Only with precise aim will you be able to maximize your fruit collection and make your way into just the right area to progress through the game.

Yoku's Island Adventure pinball setup

(via Villa Gorilla)

But it's not just about the pinball mechanics. You'll also have to chat with the island's inhabitants, solve puzzles and defeat enemies to advance. For example, I encountered a creepy eel blocking my path in the first area of the game. Near him was a sign telling me not to feed him mushrooms. Of course, as soon as I found one of these mushrooms, I grabbed it and gave it to the eel, eventually clearing my path.

Yoku's Island Adventure: Yoku meets a tortoise

(via Villa Gorilla)

The reason you collect fruit in the game is because you can leave fruits at special altars placed throughout the game's levels. Once you've made enough fruit offerings, you're granted special power-ups. When I played, I collected enough fruit to collect a party horn that made a fun, triumphant noise—though I never quite got to making it useful in the game. I was told that later in the game, the fruit altar grants players a special vacuum that helps Yoku harness the power of exploding slugs.

And even though you'll be fighting enemies and making your way through some quite treacherous paths, Mattias informed me that Yoku can't die in the game, meaning you don't have to worry about losing progress and starting a section entirely over. During my playthrough, there was one specific moment where I was stuck in a section because I wasn't precise enough with the turn of my pinball flippers, but I've been told they're still working out kinks in the game's difficulty.

had just started playing another snowy section of the game when I had to let the next person demo the game, but it was great to see how varied the sections within the game can be. Based on the obscured game map, the world looked huge, and I'm excited to see the entire world unfold. If you're at all a fan of pinball games, this cute island adventure is a must.

Yoku's Island Exoress: pinball fruit segment

(via Villa Gorilla)

Yoku's Island Express is coming to the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Steam sometime next year, so stay tuned.

 

Want to find out what else we're loving at E3? Click HERE to read our thoughts on the adorable upcoming game Ooblets.