What do you get when you combine cats, a skateboard, frantic Bit.Trip RUNNER-style platforming and having the same song play on repeat for the rest of your nine lives? One embarrassingly addictive way to spend $5.00, that’s what. Crank up the Mew-Tang Clan, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s Skater Cat for the Nintendo 3DS!
As Ollie, the cleverly named hero of our story, you’ll skate your way through numerous levels collecting fish, avoiding pitfalls and hazards, and adding fellow felines to the ranks of your pussycat posse. You’re awarded a score bonus for each additional cat you wrangle up and bring to the finish line, but hitting any of the numerous trashcans, rocks and boulders along the way will remove 1 cat from your crew. Don’t worry though, Ollie has infinite lives.
Every level in Skater Cat pretty much plays out the same, with Ollie constantly skating from left to right and collecting everything there is to collect while avoiding hazards along the way. Then, just when you think you’re comfortable, BAM! GRAVITY SWITCH! Wait, what? Why does an already ridiculous concept of a skateboarding kitten need gravity reversal? Because cat science.
As you play through the game’s 25+ levels, you’ll notice that they do get progressively harder and that not every speed boost power-up is there to help you. There were many times where I’d fall victim to the same speed boost troll repeatedly, like a horse with tunnel vision chasing a giant carrot off of a cliff and in to a glue factory. It was in this moment that I realized the difference in what I thought Skater Cat was, and what it turned out to be — a cruel beast made to emasculate the avid gamer. I know I picked up Skater Cat thinking I was just going to hate it, maybe laugh a bit and eventually power through it for the purpose of this review with no problems, but my gamer manhood was put in to question on numerous occasions.
Dying in Skater Cat has the obvious consequence of losing all of your feline followers and resetting your score counter, but in a game that doesn’t waste the chance to serve up a warm slice of humble pie, dying also means starting the entire level over again from the very beginning. I don’t know if Skater Cat being pseudo-challenging was intentional by the developers, but it was a challenge I gladly accepted that sometimes lead to random outbursts and profanity laden hilarity as my girlfriend and I passed around our 3DS between attempts.
Although Skater Cat is a single player affair, developer Teyon has included a StreetPass feature that allows you to check out a random passerby’s best time, and even race against their own ghost cat. You can also access news updates and developer ghost runs via SpotPass if you feel inclined to do so. If cats on skateboards aren’t your thing, completing Skater Cat lets you harness your inner Tony Hawk’s Bro Skater by skating along as your Mii avatar.
I’d also like to have a solid paragraph here talking about Skater Cat‘s soundtrack, but seeing as how it consists of the same song playing repeatedly every single level, I don’t really have much to work with. Imagine taking a 2 hour road trip with the only MP3 on your iPod being Call Me Maybe. Now Call Me Maybe is an awful, awful song, but after you’ve heard it 50 times in a row your brain will no doubt trigger an uncontrollable impulse to your mouth and cause it to start moving. Then, without warning, before you can say “Pull over, I’ve gotta pee!“, you’re humming along, rap-a-tappin’ your finger drums and praying to the deity of your choice that no one else in the car has noticed.
At its core, Skater Cat is an extremely basic on-rails platformer, but it’s not only cheaply priced; it’s surprisingly challenging and mildly addictive.. embarrassingly so. Graphically it’s nothing to write home about, but it’s a simple concept that’s jam-packed with an overflowing amount of cuteness. It’s one of those games that you make your friends play to make them hate their lives, but then shamefully play it alone while in the solitary comforts of your own home. It’s not a fresh take on anything really, but that doesn’t make it bad by any means. Plus the random gravity switch making you skate along the ceiling is oddly entertaining in its own right.
Overall, Skater Cat was a game I immediately expected to loathe based purely on its silly concept and basic Android/iOS style of gameplay, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t $5.00 well spent. As a blogger, I have no choice but to share my opinions here, but in the interest of keeping your circle of friends, you may want to either avoid letting them in to your own little secret of playing games that feature skateboarding cats, or you may just want to invest in some new friends.
Recommended for fans of: Bit.Trip: RUNNER, cheap pick-up-and-play games, cats on skateboards.
Bradley Keene is an avid gamer & freelance blogger from Baltimore, MD who typically handles news and reviews here at What’s Your Tag?. If he’s not knee-deep in an RPG or some form of Nintendo game, he’s usually watching terrible horror films or listening to Gwar. Follow him on Twitter @amgfail_WYT, or contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.