Puzzle games online seem to come in three different flavours:
1.) Mostly original
2.) Not terribly original, but with just enough kick to keep it fun
3.) Blatant ripoff
Sichiken is not number one, and it's not definitely number three. A solid number two is this puzzler, and thus a comfortable play for anyone who wants to kill a couple hours.
Sichiken has no plot. The overarching point of the game is to collect coins and guide your character to a box. Doing so moves you to the next level. Standard for puzzler.
So what's the catch? Well, let's analyze this level:
Your little dude needs to touch the buttons to make the small red and blue dots turn into crossable blocks. But how can he cross those blocks if he has to keep the buttons depressed? Death is inevitable - and that's the point, really, because dying in Sichiken generates a little ghost which will mirror your previous actions. You need to plan your second set of motions in conjunction with the first, then let both recorded ghost and living character collect all the coins and get to the end of the puzzle.
Like I said, not horrendously original. The Company of Myself, for example, offers a similar mechanic, and includes a story to boot. Sichiken nevertheless tosses in enough curveballs to keep the ghost recording idea fresh, and is more than challenging enough to tantalize puzzle fans.
Sichiken's success is utterly dependent on accurate controls, and it only partially delivers. The little alien you're controlling is very sensitive to player input. Even a teensy bit too much force in one direction or another is bad. I got killed numerous times because the little dude decided not to stop near a ledge. It's also easy to overshoot jumps, so expect the occasional irritating death.
I should also note that Sichiken is NOT a game to play on a laggy computer. True, Flash games always suffer if their browser lags, but lagging in Sichiken has some weird results. Several times before resetting my computer I found the little guy leaping almost twice as high as is normally possible because he hit a spot of lag. Sometimes handy, usually not.
Sichiken is pretty basic. New levels usually offer a slight backdrop change, but other than that - and the occasional addition of different-coloured blocks - the general environment is static. Yet there's some charm in the simplicity, and I'm now rather fond of the tiny bouncing alien dude who puts his life in my hands.
Sichiken relies on tiny, cutesy sound effects and one song that's reminiscent of Gameboy midis. Don't get me wrong, I like Gameboy midis - hence this song is just fine - but there's too much repetition. Even tossing in one or two more tracks would considerably improve the game's oratorical aesthetics.
Sichiken has a lot to offer to casual and hardcore games alike, as it's neither too difficult nor too easy. Even puzzles that seem to be impossible at first glance usually require only a couple minutes of thought to solve, and thus are much more satisfying than the absolute brain-busters found in other games. These solutions can also be derailed by mucking up in movement, so platform players should enjoy Sichiken as much as puzzle fans.
Unfortunately, as mentioned before, this enjoyment is marred a bit by the controls. It's rather too easy to fall into pits. Tightening the keyboard sensitivity would go a long way to addressing this issue.
Sichiken ain't bad. It could use tweaking, and perhaps a little bit more aesthetic variety, but otherwise...? Solid. Enjoyable. And, since the programmer seems content to expand Sichiken's offerings through new levels, an enduring experience. Give this sucker a shot if you've got some spare time and an itch to flex your brain.