Platforms: PSP (reviewed) / PS2
This is a collection of traditional Indian village games that range from kite flying to board games. The story mode features a young Indian man from America, coming back to his family’s village to learn about the culture. We say learn about their cultures, but he really just wants to mess around and learn how to play the local’s games. It’s a pleasant enough way to ease in western gamers who have no idea what the games are, but should also prove handy to players that already understand them as the controls get explained before each game.
You walk (so very) slowly between areas, talking to villagers about the games. The only real reason to play is for the tutorials on them. I’d advise quickly learning how to play then quitting out and playing them from the mini games menu where you can choose your sides and so on.
Pachisi is a bit like snakes and ladders without the snakes and ladders. Players roll some dice-like objects to move around a board with the aim being to get all your pieces to do a complete lap. You can make enemy pieces start again by landing on the same square as them, as long as it’s not one of the many squares that grant immunity to pieces. You’ll end up with multiple pieces making their way around and the only strategy is deciding which piece to move after you’ve rolled. The luck of the roll is the most important factor of the game outweighing the choices of what piece to move. Such a game against AI is completely soulless and you’ll be hard-pushed finding anyone to play it with at home. Still, at least it’s playable.
Gilli Danda is presumably a poor substitute for cricket. Using a stick you bounce up a wooden Gilli which I’ll be nice and say looks like a cigar. You hit it towards fielders and if they don’t catch it they’ll throw it back to you from where it lands and you’ll try and whack it. You’ll miss it’ll ask if you want to play again, you’ll say no and move on.
Kabaddi is like the playground game British Bulldogs (ish). A player from your team will try and tag someone on the other team and they’ll try and pin you down if you do. The controls are nasty and the reactions are worse. The PSP’s awful analogue nub doesn’t do it any favours either.
Kite Fight is the optimistically titled game where after learning to fly the sodding thing you have to try and pop balloons with it. It’s better you make up your own points system, like 10 points for managing to fly it from the left of the screen to the right without losing sight of it or smashing it into the beach.
Dance is a simple rhythm action game. Press the face buttons and d-pad at the end of the line in the scoring zone. Getting them half way in is supposed to get a ‘Good’ rating, bang in the middle is ‘Excellent’ while everything else is ‘Bad.’ Simple yes, impossible to mess up right? Except it does by flat out lying to your face with processions of Bad when you know your well inside the scoring zone. The d-pad prompts could have been much clearer too.
Even the poorest of minigame compilations usually have something half-decent amongst the rubble. In this case the ‘highlight’ Aadu Puli Attam or Goats and Tigers, is borderline entertaining. It’s like a game of checkers on a triangular grid. Tigers can jump over a goat and kill them, goats have to be arranged to cover the backs of each other, eventually pinning the tigers down. Your first experience in story mode will have you playing as the defensive goats and it’s pretty dull. Hop out of the story mode though and play as the tigers and you’ll start to have fun with it. Sure some matches can be full of little stalemates, but eventually the AI will mess up letting you pounce.
The controls let down most of the games here making supposedly simple games a chore to navigate. The board game Pachisi feels like a game where you just roll dice against each other and takes too long to complete. Even as a curiosity, it’s hard to recommend Desi Adda, it’d be a lot more fun trying to play most of these games for real as you get the feeling that even with tighter controls they wouldn’t be much fun. Except for Goats and Tigers, I’m loving that. Team Tiger for the win.
- Goats and Tigers can be fun playing as tigers
- Some new experiences
- Nobody is forcing you to play it
- Mostly boring games
- Rubbish controls for non-board games
- Not worth the money, even at £7.99
The Short Version: If Goats and Tigers gets released as a PSP Mini for say £1.99, then sure give it a go. The rest of these games are a bit pointless or borderline unplayable.