Why are scientists so heartless? They manage to genetically engineer a marvel of blobular cuteness, and then they get all huffy because it can't fly. Poor little Pichin can barely manage a jump, and apparently this fills its creator with disgust. In Reachin' Pichin, the debut from Malaysian game makers Kurechii, a sympathetic lab assistant helps Pichin launch up into the sky, grab all the money and gems conveniently floating around up there, and use them to evolve into something that will make its creator proud. Pichin won't give up. A good little creation would never give up. A good creation like he wanted. *sniffs*
What? Oh, I just have a cold. And something in my eye. It's nothing.
Leap right into the game by pressing that big red FLY button. As Pichin launches into the air, it follows your mouse from left to right. Guide Pichin into collecting coins, gems, treasure chests, and other goodies, and bounce on red and gold cushions to go even higher. There are no enemies per se, only some obstacles which slow Pichin down, and can actually sometimes be a good thing if you're falling. You can keep going until Pichin falls to the ground naturally, or if you want to end the flight early, you can click the "Skip" button at the very bottom of the screen. When your launch is over, you'll get a report on how much you picked up, and open any chests. As you progress, you'll unlock four other buttons beside FLY: a achievements monitor, for keeping track of your progress; a stats and skills for boosting stats and equipping skills; a research lab, for further increase of Pichin's speed, strength, luck and bounciness; and an evolution lab, for evolving Pichin into a champion!
Pichin starts out as neutral, but evolves into one of three kinds of Pichin: plant, beast, or metal. With each stage of evolution, Pichin has a different look and different abilities. Be forewarned that if you evolve baby Pichin into, say, Chickachin, the tween beast form, but later evolve into Gadgetin, the mature metal form, you will lose access to any beast skills you didn't have equipped. While you keep the skills you had equipped, you can only add new ones that are open to your Pichin's current type. Passive skills apply automatically, while active skills require clicking, holding with the mouse to charge, and then releasing to cast. Different active skills have different casting times and cooldown times, which you can monitor in the lower right corner of the screen.
Analysis: A word of warning: the music of Reachin' Pichin is as cheerily addictive as that of Katamari Damacy. You may find yourself breaking into "ba da das" and squealing "Reachin' Pichin!" at inopportune moments. Aesthetically, this game is brilliant all around, with the soundtrack perfectly matching the colorful game world. Pichin looks as if it might bounce right out of your monitor altogether.
The game does such a good job making you identify with Pichin's desire to prove its worth that it's really a shame that the ending sequence doesn't give any plot resolution on that end. Instead, it's apparently meant to be a cliffhanger twist, bringing up something that was never foreshadowed in the slightest in the rest of the game, perhaps setting up a Reachin' Pichin 2. However, the best way to make people come back for Reachin' Pichin 2 is to give them emotional pay-off first, then hook them with Pichin's new challenge.
Despite a plot misstep at the end, Reachin' Pichin offers great launch gameplay throughout, fully up there with such classics of the genre as Hedgehog Launch. In most launch games, you begin the game hardly able to get anywhere, but once you've unlocked all the best upgrades, you almost can't lose. Reachin' Pichin takes a different approach, in that early launches are easy, but actually winning the game will not only take a fully evolved Pichin, but also a careful use of skills towards the top, where platforms become scarce.
Please give Reachin' Pichin a chance. Otherwise I think it's going to start wibbling its lower lip again, and I don't think I can take it.