PSP Minis have a lot of potential. This line of bite-sized digital download games offers indie developers the chance to fill market niches that would be unviable in the blockbuster-driven retail realm. PSP Minis also offer consumers nuggets of gameplay at a fraction of the cost of normal games. But there's a catch: with PSP Minis, a nugget of gameplay is all you get...
Somewhere in the hoary wilderness of the Hotai forest lives the Piyomama, a giant chicken with an incredible reproductive system. The Piyomama can disgorge hundreds of eggs per minute; eggs that can be fertilised simply by arranging them into lines of matching colour. Once fertilised, the 'piyo' they contain hatch within seconds, and each piyo in turn is presumably capable of growing into a Piyomama in short order. The Hotai forest must be home to some fantastically voracious predators to keep the piyo population under control.
The fate of the millions of surplus piyo could be the subject of a truly gruesome game, but Piyotama concerns the player only with the hatching process - lining up all those piyo eggs into rows so that they don't overflow the coop, and cause undue distress to the Piyomama.
The eggs are re-arranged via a deceptively simple mechanism; a bracket that can be slid up and down the coop, with an expandable pocket on each side. Each pocket holds three eggs, and the apparatus is set up so that if one is full, the other is empty. By tapping left and right on the D-Pad, you can knock eggs off the side of one row, so they can be slid up or down and inserted in another. The Square and Circle face buttons shuffle the three eggs currently off the grid, making the act of lining them up into matching horizontal rows a simple, if laborious task.
Lining them up into diagonal patterns is trickier, but not impossible. Once a four-of-a-kind match is made, they'll start to pulse, and you'll have a few seconds to line up another match to get a combo multiplier going. An assortment of mega-bonus and wild-card eggs are occasionally added to the mix, but they don't alter the objective: matching eggs to make them disappear.
Two play modes are included: Coop and Free-Range. That's 'coop', by the way, not 'co-op'. It's a strictly single-player experience, in which you have to accrue the highest possible score in a five-minute time limit. Free-Range removes the egg timer, giving the game a slightly more leisurely pace.
And that's it - that's all you get. A simple orb-sorting game with an optional time-attack mode. Piyotama offers a distinct flavour of Japanese fruitiness that so many hardcore puzzle gamers crave, and the frantic action clashes gloriously with the inoffensive, arts-and-crafts visuals and cutesy sound effects. It's good value, if puzzle games are your thing; this 30-meg download can nestle in a corner of your memory card, ready for those moments when you crave a burst of cuckoo puzzle action.