Oshidama is a simple and elegant flash game just released by Game-Pure, the creators of Speed Cluster. The goal is to nudge a white orb to the exit point on each screen. Walls, pits and other obstacles stand in your way, forcing you plan your path and be ready for a last-second save at any moment. It's an interesting mix of strategy and fast-paced cursor shifting delivered in an astounding audio and visual atmosphere reminiscent of flOw.
Tap the white circle with the cursor to give it a push, creating a satisfying "click" sound when you do. The orb travels forward based on where you touched it, sort of like hitting a ball with a cue stick in billiards. You can't control the circle's speed or distance, only the direction.
The game is divided into levels each containing four stages. Within a level you have a set number of pushes you can use to complete the stages. If the counter hits zero, it's game over. Fortunately Oshidama saves your level progress so you can take a break and pick up where you left off.
Analysis: Restricting your control over the orb and limiting the number of pushes gives Oshidama a nice strategy element to go along with the action-based gameplay. Plan a basic route through each stage before you start tapping so you don't run out of pushes. The orb doesn't always do exactly what you intend, so be ready to adapt your route at any moment. Also be ready to swing the cursor around for a quick save from the bowels of a deep, dark pit.
Oshidama is beautifully designed with appealing visuals and a great soundtrack. The echoing "click" sound when you push the circle gives the impression that you're deep under water, which matches the music quite nicely. Easy to play and an excellent mix of action and strategy all wrapped up in a beautiful media package.
Update: Oshidama Plus and the new Time Attack mode effectively doubles the amount of pleasure you can extract from Oshidama, which is no small accomplishment considering how enjoyable the game is. Oshidama Monthly, while a bit on the difficult side, successfully builds on the formula just enough to make it feel unique without destroying what made the original game so inviting. Excellent work from Game-Pure!
Wii users take note: Oshidama is playable through the Internet Channel. There's a hint of choppiness in the orb's movement, though, and making precise pushes can be a challenge. Filling your living room with the game's aural bliss is quite an experience.