After replaying the brilliant 1993 puzzlerYoshi's Cookie, I felt the urge to check out more puzzle games. Maybe somewhere I missed on a little gem. Since it's impossible for me to play Japanese role-playing games on my WonderSwan Color (for lack of knowledge of the Japanese language), I decided Bandai's handheld was a good place to check out an unknown puzzle game. That's when I stumbled upon XI [Sai] Little, a little game by Sony Entertainment, that was also released on the Sony PlayStation 1 a couple of years later.
In XI [Sai] you play as a little devil that walks on a die in a small square field filled with other dices. As you walk on the die, it starts rolling so you can get different numbers on top. In the main and trial mode you have to make fields of contiguous dice in which the number on the top of the die must correspond with the number of the blocks. For example, five dice with the number five on top must form a field of five or six dice with the number six on top and so on. If you do make such an adjacent field with the right relation between numbers and amount of blocks, the field disappears. However, new dice slowly start growing out of the ground when a thunder strike hits the playing area.
The graphics of XI [Sai] are decent and clear, but not as colorful and bright as some of the best WonderSwan games (Rockman EXE, Kinikkuman, S.D. Gundam: Operation U.C.). The control is decent, but -- like most WonderSwan games --the music is horrendous. Another good thing is that most of XI [Sai] is in English, so most option screens (including the main screen) are understandable for Western gamers. It's worth noting that some options in the options are in Japanese. Unfortunately, due to their blankness (just black) and few picks (just two options) seem very important, but I had no clue what they did. I found this half-hearted language choice a little bit annoying -- it's clearer when all is just in English or in Japanese. But I shouldn't complain; there aren't that many WonderSwan Color games in English.
What's really great about XI [Sai] Little is that the different modes are truly different from each other. Usually, in puzzle games most modes are only slight variations, but in XI [Sai] each mode really offers a different kind of gameplay. Besides the main and trial mode, there's a 'battle mode' which has you battling it out against a human opponents or the computer. The 'dance mode' -- inspired by Dance Dance Revolution -- dice numbers are previewed and you have to roll the correspondent number on top on the beat of the (awful) music. In the 'Puzzle mode' you're given just a small area with a view dice and you only have a few moves to create the correct field to make them disappear.
XI [Sai] Little is nice to play, but the game is pretty hard. It's hard to keep track of which number will roll on top and keep in mind what that number has to be to create the right field of adjacent dice. Nonetheless, despite my horrible puzzle skills, I really liked this little game. If you're a puzzle game fanatic with enough patience and you happen to own a WonderSwan Color, this is game to get. If you're less patient, you better first give XI [Sai] Little a try to see if you get hooked or not. All in all, XI [Sai] is a very decent puzzle game, but not as instant accessible as some other WonderSwan Color puzzlers, like Gunpey or Tetris.