Cats are most definitely enjoying their moment in the sun. Having cornered the meme market with the seemingly unstoppable Lolcats phenomenon and Keyboard Cat‘s posthumous rise to fame, they then went one better by exploding onto the music scene and adorning any number of recent album covers (We Are Scientists’ With Love and Squalor, Wavves’ King Of The Beach and The Klaaxon’s Surfing The Void, to name but a few). Now it would appear our feline friends have turned their attention to iPhone gaming. And if the ridiculously enjoyable Cat Run is anything to go by, they’re edging ever closer to their evident goal of world domination.
Well, I always knew they were up to something…
Cat Run is based around a deceptively simple conceit. Basically, your job is to help as many kitties across a busy motorway as possible whilst avoiding traffic. This is achieved by tapping a cat and plotting its route to safety with your finger. A second tap stops your cat in its tracks, and should you change your mind about your chosen path, you can always hightail it back to the side-walk by drawing another line onscreen. It’s a well thought out control system that is as intuitive as it sounds, meaning that in no time at all you’ll have gotten to grips with the basics.
That said, the game is far from a walk in the park in terms of difficulty. One wrong move and – meouch! – your kitty is street pizza and it’s Game Over. This relentless pace and unforgiving, sudden-death style of play making for some hair fur-raisingly thrilling gaming.
Cat Run‘s level based structure also means it gets incrementally harder the longer your motley crew of moggies survive, thanks to developer Demonual Studios adding a variety of (increasingly bizarre) obstacles and other challenges your way as you play. These include refereeing frequent cat fights, leading poisonous skunks into the path of oncoming vehicles, skirting around oil-slicks, contending with slow moving fat cats, dodging a monstrous tentacle that attempts to drag your poor kitties down a manhole every so often, and much, much more. Like I said, bizarre.
It’s that delightfully off-kilter comedy that helps ensure Cat Run never feels repetitive – despite the fact that, let’s be honest, it kind of is – and will keep you hitting the retry button time and time again.
Okay, it’s not all purrfect (had enough cat gags yet?); some are likely to find Cat Run frustratingly difficult, and the game would definitely benefit from the inclusion of an easy mode that gives the player extra lives (I mean, aren’t cats supposed to have nine?). While, in spite of there being a decent amount of content included for a 1.0 release, it really could do with a few more environments to play through.
The good far outweighs the bad though. Lets see, Cat Run boasts a winningly wacky concept, pick-up-and-playness coupled with lasting appeal, a charming visual style, and a host of OpenFeint powered extras. In short, all the vital ingredients needed to be runaway hit along the lines of Angry Birds – if the developers keep supporting it new content, that is. For cats in general, it seems the sky’s the limit…
This review is dedicated to my cat Púca who died last year. Still miss him lots 🙁
iFanzine Verdict:The iPhone gaming equivalent of catnip, Cat Run gives you that warm fuzzy feeling that comes of playing something that has been lovingly made, looks great and is challenging and compelling in equal measure. Then of course you realize you’re hopelessly hooked and are left begging “i can haz more please?.”