There are some killer PSN titles amongst the PS3’s stellar line-up for the rest of the year, Wipeout HD and Warhawk to name but two. Thankfully, Sony haven’t forgotten about the puzzlers too, and alongside future hits like EchoChrome sits Piyotama, an absolute gem of a game: the sugary colours and happy music might make this look like a game for Grandma, but this is as hardcore as chickens and eggs can possibly get, and requires as much forward thinking as chess.
The title refers to two Japanese words, Piyo is the equivalent of ‘cheep’ (as in the noise a chicken might make) and Tama refers to a round object, in this case the oddly spherical eggs laid by the hen in question. From the screenshots below the style of play is immediately obvious – Piyotama is another ‘match 4 of the same colour in a row’ style games, a little like Puyo Pop.
The twist here is that you can actually move the eggs once they’ve landed, rather than moving them horizontally before they do land as with most games in this genre. A tap left or right on the d-pad shifts the entire row sideways and the 3 eggs at the extremities of the well slide into an expanding space that can then be moved up or down as required, before shifting back into the well, and thus pushing the three eggs on the other side to then fill the gap opposite.
The three eggs in the gap can be rotated with the X button, and the Triangle button makes the mother hen work harder, producing more eggs. The aim then, is to create a line of four eggs of the same colour by moving them around, and then once done to build up a combo chain by shifting other eggs around to create more chains. Eggs already part of a combo glow white, but can still be moved and used to increase the multiplier.
You have a short time to get as many combos as possible, and each new chain gives you more time. Once the few seconds are up (or you shake the Sixaxis to hatch them) the eggs all break up and leave gaps for the ones above to fall into, and a tap of the controller jostles them about a little if required. All the eggs are polygonal models which creates a real sense of solid physics within the well, and whilst the graphics themselves are merely functional the changing backgrounds and hatched chicks look great.
As with most puzzlers, the substance is in the score tables, and Piyotama has online scoreboards which keeps a track of your best score in the two modes (Coop mode is timed, Free Range is essentially an Endless mode, only finishing when you fill the well) so competition is healthy and there’s a huge amount of people playing the game, no doubt due to the £1.50 price tag the game carries. Piyotama is rounded off with a solid (local) 2 player mode.
For the price, this is a great game; Piyotama is slickly produced, hugely addictive, and the perfect alternative to Warhawk. Plus, if it gets Grandma coo-ing at the chickens, everyone’s a winner.