Remember Combat Cats? That game that was our first introduction to the world of early reviews and previews of indie games? After a successful Kickstarter the game was released Wednesday for Android, iOS, and Windows, Mac and Linux support is coming in the near future.
Let’s get down to the dirty business–what exactly is Combat Cats? It’s like Bejeweled on catnip, literally. It has the common template of a Bejeweled-style game, with added RPG elements like leveling up weapons or your ship, with an extra twist I found very nice. You have the ability to move pieces anywhere you want. See that missile that’s on the other side of the board? Simply click it to add it to your current inventory slot, then click where you want it to go, and it will be placed there. This helps drastically because of how fast-paced the game is at the start and how fast you need to complete levels to earn those three magical stars in order to progress.
The game has fifteen levels to play in, each getting harder as you go along. When you destroy an enemy it will progress your travel bar at the top of the screen, and when you reach the end you have completed the level. Each level completion earns you a static amount of coins (it raises for every level) plus other coins you earn from chaining combos or linking the coins on the board. In order to unlock each level you must reach a certain amount of stars overall. I found myself going back to earlier levels to get the best three-star ranking in order to unlock more levels later.
Let’s talk about the RPG elements. Your ship has two types of upgrades. One costs coins, which you earn in the levels, and the other is catnip, which you also obtain in missions but in a lower degree, and whenever you do a combo of five missions or more you will earn a catnip. You have the basic concepts of weapon power which costs coins, and the catnip upgrades increase their effect. The poison weapons, for example will hit harder for coins and will apply more poison for catnip. You also have your ship’s health and how much is repaired when you combine repair blocks. You can unlock other ships to play as with different pilots, but it seems purely cosmetic; even though some of the ships looked great, no stat changes for more expensive ships were mentioned.
“Now wait a minute here,” you might be wondering–if there are RPG elements, does that mean you will need to backtrack in order to progress? This is indeed the case: you will need to replay levels in order to gain more coins and catnip. This is, however, one of the few games where it didn’t bother me one bit to replay a level 20 times to build up the coins for my last ship health upgrade to finally beat the last boss. I liked to see how fast I could beat the levels even after getting three-star completions, and while a level timer would have been nice, its absence doesn’t hurt the game at all.
So what did I like about the game?
- Story – It’s basic–someone stole all your catnip, and you need to find out who. Why would someone take a cat’s precious catnip away from them?
- Speed – I like how fast-paced the game is: it doesn’t put forms of pressure on you such as the timers in Bejeweled, but if you don’t kill enemies fast enough, they will take you down without much of a sweat.
- Bejeweled but not – The added bonus for move pieces around in order to make chains is awesome.
- Price – This game is only 99 cents on iOS and Android, and $1.49 on Windows. I went through the game pretty fast, but I will be going back for more, making it worth far more then a single dollar.
- Music – The Kickstarter didn’t get high enough for a larger library, but the background music was great to listen to. The sound effects were also quite good for an indie game.
- Cats – Who doesn’t like cats?
What could have been improved on?
- Level timers – This is a quickly paced game, and while trying to beat your own records is fun, there is no timer in the game to show you how long you took. Hopefully if New Horizon Games decide to make another similar product or a sequel, a timer can be introduced.
- Backtracking – I wrote about how good it felt, but at the same time it was a little too easy. If the developers were able to implement a method that lowered the coins you got from repeating the same stage over and over in order to make getting those final upgrades take longer, then you would get some more gameplay out of it.
- Weapons – There are a few basic weapon blocks to activate, as the Kickstarter did not reach a high enough stretch goal to add more. This is a shame, as it would have been great to see more weapons to play with.
What do I score Combat Cats? Since we don’t really like to use numbers, I give it a bunch of bags of catnip in order to help those guys get their stolen stash back!
What I did in game: I played all fifteen story missions and upgraded most of my ship to max. There is a survival mode I did not attempt at the time of this review.
End note: This game is cheap to buy, and admit to yourself, you’ve spent $1 on worse things, so give these guys some support and try the game out. If you like puzzle games, give this a shot.