Tiger Trouble is the second GameShastra mini based around a board game, the first one being Pachisi, and thankfully it’s a lot more entertaining than that first attempt. Although Tiger Trouble is just as basic as Pachisi, the actual core gameplay is much more absorbing and strategic.
The presentation of this traditional Nepalese board game is very similar to Pachisi, with wood-effect buttons on the menu screen and the same soothing soundtrack of gentle tribal drums and bird songs.
The comprehensive Tutorial mode is divided up into Tigers and Goats tutorials, as both require very different strategic approaches.
If you choose to play as the Tigers, your aim is to kill seven Goats by jumping over them, at the same time avoiding getting trapped by the Goats. You start with all three of your pieces at the top of the board and can move into any adjacent empty spot.
If you play as the Goats, your main concern is avoiding being killed by the Tigers at the same time as trying to surround the Tigers and block their movement.
There are 15 Goats in total, and all of them must be placed on the board before you can start moving any of them around. You can block the Tigers’ movement in a particular direction by placing two Goats in a row.
I actually found it a lot harder to win a game with the Goats, with the odds being somewhat stacked against them, almost like they are in the wild in real life!
The basic controls are the same whichever side you’re on. Use either the directional buttons or the analog stick to move the glowing orange cursor around the board, press X to select a piece and then press X again to place the piece. To cancel the selection, press O.
Certain aspects of Tiger Trouble’s gameplay remind me of chequers or draughts; it has that same simple strategic element to it. I also really liked the variation of the two different types of gameplay depending on what side you’re on. And your AI opponent is pretty good so achieving victory is far from easy.
The game benefits from the simple presentation of the wooden board and the pieces. To have had lots of flashing neon and crazy mad colors splashed all over the place or maybe goofy cartoon Tigers and Goats would have spoilt the traditional, authentic, feel that GameShastra has clearly gone for.
That said, the board could have been a little brighter and clearer on the PSP – the game actually looks better on the PS3 and you can really appreciate the detail on the much larger screen.
The other major failing of Tiger Trouble is the lack of a mid-game save. Games can last a long time, that’s all part of the appeal, but if you want to stop in the middle, you won’t be able to save and you’ll lose all progress. It’s frankly infuriating!
Niggles aside, Tiger Trouble is a big improvement on GameShastra’s Pachisi, and an enjoyable and challenging adaptation of a traditional board game that actually works well, especially if you’re in the mood for something a little more mellow and relaxing.