Review: Pirate Cat
Look at that title. It has everything you need to get everyone interested. It mentions pirates and it mentions cats. Throw in one of the cutest possible icons, and you have a winner before people start playing the game. When they do, they're going to get an overload of cuteness.
Version Reviewed: 18.104.22.168
Thankfully, under all of this is a pretty good game. It's a variant of the infinite climbing game. Doodle Jump is a good example here, where you keep bouncing. In Pirate Cat you have your own set of wings that allow you to fly up into the sky (with your goal being, strangely, the moon). Unfortunately, cats aren't very good at making wings, so as you climb you'll lose feathers off the wings. Lose too many, and you're going to fall out of the sky.
That little wrinkle adds to the challenge, because as your cat flies into the sky, you'll need to shoot down all the birds that you can with a little catapult. As they fall out the sky, feathers will stream off them (in a typically cartoonish manner) and you'd better fly into them and pick them up to keep your wings functional.
It's not as simple as you expect, because you have two control systems to balance. The first is steering your cat in the sky. That works by tilting your phone left and right to fly from side to side on the screen, much as you would expect. Your cat's wings are not that responsive, so you'll need to do some thinking ahead.
The second control is for the catapult, and uses the touch screen in a similar method to Angry Birds. Pull back the catapult elastic from your cat's grip, aim towards the birds in the sky, and let rip. The smart strategy is to wait till the birds are directly above the cat so the feathers fall into your flight path, but that's rarely the perfect strategy.
As you pass milestones of height, you'll be given special skills that you can use in every future game (such as the ability to collect feathers while falling, after a wing failure), all of which you'll need to use carefully to keep climbing in the sky - Pirate Cat does not leave you much room for failure, you'll need to fly almost perfectly to crack the game.
I love the dual and different control system, working both hands separately to ultimately achieve a joint task. I love the difficulty curve which is hard but easy to progress though.
But I mostly love the act that the whole game is presented as if it was a black and white silent film from a 1920's cinema cartoon series. From the clicking of the sprockets as part of the soundtrack, to the slightly too fast tutorials represented by a full screen caption (including the little twinkly corner decorations), it all feels wonderfully archaic, and it's all the better for it. Even if the odd splash of colour spoils the illusion.
I know that the game is the real thing that should be judged, but when the visuals are stunning, and the underlying effort is clear to see, then match this with a solid concept and you have a winner.
Pirate Cat is not perfect, it's perhaps a little bit too difficult for it's own good, and with just a single life you'll go through a lot of frustration before you crack how to handle both control methods But if you persevere you will be rewarded with a nifty little arcade game that can deliver a lot more than a flashy visual theme.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at