Puchi Eva: Evangelion @ School is probably about as far from the source material as a spin-off can get while still maintaining some ties to the original series. The concept of super-deformed, incredibly adorable Neon Genesis Evangelion characters frolicking in an alternate universe came about following the 2006 announcement of the Rebuild of Evangelion. Originally the Puchi Eva line, also known as Petit Eva, were featured as toys and short cartoons, but on March 20, 2008 Namco Bandai released a DS mini-game collection featuring the characters.
There are five basic mini-game types in the game, which I like to refer to as "Circle-Tap", "Run Away," "Love Me," "Item Swap" and "Connect the Wires." Keep in mind, these aren't official titles – they're just my affectionate nicknames for the challenges that pop up. Each challenge can have 1, 2 and 3 star completion ratings, and higher ratings mean you get more reward items to collect.
"Circle-Tap" is the first mini-game you'll run into, and the most frustrating for players who don't speak Japanese. The first scenario involves Shinji, Asuka, normal Rei, EVA01 and Misato and a particularly tasty-looking piece of cake. The goal is to circle and tap certain items to illicit particular reactions from characters in as few circle-taps as possible. Since my Japanese is mediocre, the "Circle-Tap" games tend to frustrate me initially, until I find the right items. It really isn't that difficult, and most "Circle-Tap" mini-games can be solved by guessing.
"Run Away" is the second mini-game you'll run into, and the most straightforward. The player must help the Evangelion characters run from point A to point B in a certain amount of time, tapping or removing obstacles along the way. The first challenge involves helping Shinji and Supa Rei run to school so they aren't counted as late. You move banana peels out of their path and knock out obnoxious dogs by tapping on them. The "Run Away" challenges get more interesting (and difficult) as the game progresses – at one point you must tap and remove stone totem poles of mini mass production EVAs or keep Misato from capturing Shinji, Asuka and their friends.
"Connect the Wires" is the third mini-game, and usually features Ritsuko asking Shinji for help reconnecting wires in a grid. The first puzzle features nine blocks with blue and red colored wires running through them. The player must arrange the blocks so the top connections connect to the bottom ones and a circuit is complete. "Connect the Wires" is the easiest mini-game in the collection – there are no time limits and, as far as I can tell, no limit to how many times you can rearrange blocks.
"Item Swap" mini-games come in varying forms. The first one you'll run into involves rearranging items so a bowling ball will roll down and hit a busted TV that is on a rolling platform to help Shinji hide from a mini mass production EVA so he can save EVA01. Another one will involve moving numbers around on a test so the equations on the worksheet are correct. Like the "Circle-Tap" mini-games, "Item Swap" will occasionally require a little experimentation, but they tend to be more entertaining.
"Love Me" is the final mini-game variety, and is somewhat challenging. The first one appears in 7-1, where Rei Ayanami brings Shinji to talk to Chibi Rei. Shinji must answer 10 questions posed by Chibi Rei. Each question has four possible answers. The goal is to get Chibi Rei's affection to 80%, and each answer provides certain % points. This game may scare people with no Japanese language skills, but it really isn't that difficult. The best answer will trigger a little happy sound, so if someone keeps a notepad near by and notes which answers trigger happy noises, then a 100% score is easy to achieve.
Puchi Eva: Evangelion @ School is an endearing mini-game collection. Once you've gotten the hang of the various mini-game types, it really becomes quite enjoyable. The item and icon rewards that come from mastering each challenge are surprisingly rewarding.
Images courtesy of Namco Bandai.