|System: PS3 (PSN Download)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCE Japan||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 9, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
In an attempt to win the online battle against the Xbox 360 and its Xbox Live Arcade, Sony continues releasing more and more interesting and unique titles for download on the PlayStation Network. For just $2.99 you can download one of the latest additions to the network, Piyotama; it's a game that puzzle lovers are almost sure to enjoy, especially with the added spark of using the Sixaxis controls.
Piyotama is a game about chicks and momma chicken. With such characters you can imagine the game is at the very least cute! But cutesy is not all this game has. Luckily, Sony of Japan did a pretty good job creating an engaging puzzle game for the PS3. It wouldn't be surprising to see this game released for the PlayStation Portable in the future and, in fact, it would be a good one to play on-the-go.
Mother Piyo lives in the mysterious Hotai forest. Like every Spring season, she laid eggs that will soon turn into colorful baby Piyos. However, she laid a few too many, and now they're about to overflow the nest. The nest doesn't really look anything like a nest; it's more like one of those popular Tetris-like vertical containers that you will find in half of the puzzle games out there. Colored, round eggs line up horizontally, filling up the container. With the right analog stick you will control the cursor, which is a horizontal box that wraps around the horizontal lines of eggs. If you pull to the right, you will be able to transport the last three eggs to a different row. If you pull to the left, you will get the same results but on the other side of the container. Thanks to that, you can strategically place the eggs and create color combinations in a horizontal or diagonal fashion. Moreover, if you nudge the controller sideways, some eggs will drop to the empty spots. If you shake it, you will make the eggs warm up faster and hatch. You can also push a button and make the eggs drop down faster so you have more choices and chances to create new color combos. Special eggs drop into the container once in a while; if you hatch these, you'll move up to the next level.
The eggs take a while to get warm and hatch. Meanwhile, you can even use some of the eggs that were already part of a combo and create a new one. You just have to time it right. Sometimes it will be in your best interest to get rid of an already made combo to give place to new combinations. In that case, you can just go ahead and shake the Sixaxis controller to make them hatch. Only eggs that form a combo will hatch. The controls are very simple and fairly easy to use once you get used to them. I did have some difficulties at the beginning, not understanding exactly what was going on. This is partly because the instructions of the game are not very clear. In fact, the game sends you to the website in order to read the instructions. The text is small, and you have to mess around with the web browser to be able to read them. There's also an in-game demonstration. However, everything happens so fast that you'll barely understand how to play by just watching it.
The game also offers a two-player mode where you can battle against your friend and measure your hatching skills. It's motivating to see your opponent shake the controller with a victory face. It doesn't mean he or she will win, but one thing is sure: some new Piyos are about to pop! Of course, if you enjoy competing, you will be interested in the scoreboards as well. Your scores will automatically go up online, making you part of the worldwide hatching ranking.
I wouldn't say the graphics are outstanding, despite the full HDTV support. The thing is, puzzle games are puzzle games, and even if you use a lot of imagination, you can't create a masterpiece-looking title. Still, the game looks really good and I like the design of the colorful eggs. Actually, we know they're eggs because little chicks pop out of them, but they don't really look like eggs; they remind me of those decorative Chinese balls you could find in your aunt's living room. Mother Piyo is fluffy and cute; she just sits on the top-right corner of the screen checking out your hatching abilities. When the eggs hatch, you get a glimpse of the little Piyos. Piyotama doesn't have animations or other interesting visual effects, but it's probably not something to worry about, since most of us prefer the gameplay to continue flowing.
The game has some cheery and catchy tunes, typical of Japanese games. The sound effects won't disappoint you; they're exactly what you would expect of a game with chickens popping out of the egg. I don't think the game is missing anything in this department, but it's also not top of the line.
If you are a puzzle lover, start your download a.s.a.p.! Also, the low price tag means that you can give it a shot and not feel buyer's remorse if you don't like it. I wouldn't say I plan to play this game a lot after my first and in-depth gaming session, but it's one I'll keep in mind when I have some free time and feel like diving into some puzzling action. Will you do the same?
CCC Co-Site Director