Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi: Kaznapped features the Japanese pop duo Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura, popularly known as Puffy or Puffy Ami Yumi. Their music has come to the US, along with a Cartoon Network television show entitled "Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi" as well as the game Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi: Kaznapped. Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi: Kaznapped focuses on Ami and Yumi's adventures as rock stars fighting to save their instruments and their manager from their number one fan, Harmony.
Kaznapped's Ami and Yumi exemplify Japanese pop (J-pop) music, and Kaznapped follows in that tradition. Kaznapped's story begins with Ami and Yumi lounging about the "Puffy Lounge" when their manager, Kaz, comes in and chastises them for not working. Ami and Yumi explain how overworked they are and that they just need a break. Then their number one fan, Harmony, interrupts and asks them to take her on a concert tour with them. Ami and Yumi decline and apologize and say that they're too tired from their recent world tour. The slightly maniacal Harmony then decides to steal their instruments, kidnap Kaz-hence the Kaznapped of the title-and to go on her own tour. After restraining Ami and Yumi with some sort of sticky-candy, Harmony leaves. Thankfully, Ami and Yumi's cats Jang Keng and Tekerai eat the candy and free Ami and Yumi.
From this opening, Ami and Yumi then begin on a world tour where Ami and Yumi must avoid typical pop star enemies like insane fan-boys and the paparazzi as well as dinosaurs in order to rescue Kaz and their instruments. Like the game's narrative, the graphics and music are all perfect pop. The graphics look like candy wrapping or a vacation spot from Hello Kitty's world and the game play even includes healing and earning extra lives by petting the cats Jang Keng and Tekerai. Within the candy-coated world, Ami and Yumi are set up as separate characters with different skills. Ami is the bright-eyed, pink-haired one who can double jump and use her microphone wire as a grappling hook to swing about for even greater jumping abilities. As a partner to Ami, Yumi's character has a slightly more hardcore appearance and slightly stronger abilities-think of Yumi as Buttercup as opposed to Ami's Bubbles or Blossom-being able to use her guitar to grab on to ledges and to smash larger rocks.
Given their different skill sets, Kaznapped allows players to switch between Ami and Yumi based on preference and on the needed skills for different sections. Kaznapped works using a very old-school platformer style with side-scrolling super-flat levels combined with basic running, jumping, and attacking. Building on the basic platformer stylings and its almost overly saccharine cuteness, Kaznapped manages to be an interesting game. While older players may tire of the games repetitiveness after a few stops on the world tour, as a game for kids Kaznapped is solid because it presents enough of a challenge without being overly difficult, long, or boring. Kaznapped is relatively short though, and its super-flat construction makes extended play or replay difficult, so Kaznapped can only function as a short and simple game.
Kaznapped indicates a positive trend in the transfer of popular Japanese music and games into US culture. Because Kaznapped focuses on a popular girl duo and because the game play is relatively simple, it could signal exactly what the US needs to attract more young girl gamers. As rock stars and best friends, the pop duo Ami and Yumi offer players girl-friendly characters and with an incredibly cute aesthetic.
Additionally, Kaznapped could also indicate a positive trend in terms of the cross-cultural transfer of music. Ami and Yumi have been incredibly popular in Japan since their debut in 1996, and now have several U.S. albums as well as being known for supplying the theme to Cartoon Network's Teen Titans series. Their music includes the albums: An Illustrated History, Spike, Nice, and an album of music from their show. Ami and Yumi also have dolls and loads of other J-pop styled merchandise. With all of the options, Hi Hi Puffy Ami and Yumi: Kaznapped could seem like just more pop merchandizing-like Burger King's Backstreet Boys comics or Brittany Spear's perfume-however, Kaznapped is actually a decent game and Ami and Yumi's music in general is awesome for any J-pop fans.
Kaznapped's major positives are its simple game play, short levels, catchy background music, and ridiculously cute graphics. All of these support Kaznapped as a quick, casual gaming experience. Kaznapped's major negatives are that its super-flat, super quick style obstruct deeper play possibilities. However, Kaznapped makes no pretenses of its design; it is a super cute, super quick game for casual play. Gamers looking for a more in-depth gaming experience should looks elsewhere, but all others will be pleased with the friendly, simple, and cute game play. Given the various freely available Puffy Ami Yumi online games, Kaznapped could be especially beneficial as a bridge from free online games to system based games in terms of luring new gamers into gaming with a fun and non-antagonistic gaming experience. With a solid game like Kaznapped, Ami and Yumi could become even more well known, a benefit for players and music listeners everywhere.