One of the best things about mobile game development is its low barrier to entry: all you need to get your game onto iOS is a mac, $99 and a bit of technical know-how, although that last one is optional. The low barrier to entry means that some of the strangest, craziest and downright weird game ideas can be built and published to the world quite easily. Kick the Kitties happily falls into all three of those categories, and yet somehow is still great fun.
You play as Guy D’Feet, a giant rat who must overcome the challenges that the sewers throw at him to become the leader of the Holy Rodent Council. The sewers offer up numerous trials such as the difficult-to-traverse layout and the various enemies that crawl at him. Fortunately, the sewers are also full of cats, (bear with me here), that act as your only way of killing the enemies in your way. Kicking a cat into an enemy will decrease its health; kick enough cats at an enemy and they will no longer be an issue, although some cats are more effective against specific enemies and will kill them with one hit.
The enemies themselves are all quite imaginative, ranging from tyres with horns and wings, to snakes and robotic goldfish with legs. Unfortunately many of the enemies act in exactly the same way, just moving from left to right and with poor collision detection. They also appear in massive groups, and as a result it can be impossible to avoid or kill every single enemy, meaning you have no choice but to take damage.
Controlling Guy D’Feet is done by titling the device to the left or right in order to make him walk in the appropriate direction, jumping is achieved by tapping or holding one side of the screen, and kicking the kitties is done exactly the same way, but on the opposite side. The controls definitely take a while to get used to, so expect to die a lot until you’re accustomed. Once you master the controls the game becomes a lot easier, but they still feel slightly strange.
The majority of the 16 levels are not too difficult to traverse once you get used to the systems, however a small number of areas will leave even the most competent player frustrated. At the end of each level you must fight a boss cat, who is considerably larger than Guy and has a lot of HP. Each of these fights would be quite difficult if played properly, as the kitties don’t re-spawn particularly quickly and avoiding the enemy is not easy at all; however there is an easy way to win: just stand at the far right of the arena and the giant cat cannot hit you, so when he turns run and kick a kitty at him, then return to the corner and repeat. Sadly, this takes all the excitement and challenge out of the boss fights.
Throughout the game you will collect gems to spend on new outfits for Guy, most of which give some sort of benefit such as increased health, or new kitties that may be super effective against a certain type of enemy. The gems slowly mount up after a while and items can be purchased at a steady pace, or you can spend some real money to buy even more gems. Refreshingly the prices for the gems are quite low and if the game had a bit more replay value I may be tempted to buy some.
VERDICT: Despite a few issues and a difficult control scheme, Kick the Kitties is ultimately a fun and entertaining experience. The platforming is challenging but most of the time it will not infuriate players, and the concept and execution of having to kick a cat into an enemy to kill it is both hilarious and surprisingly well-implemented.
Kick the Kitties is a solid game, but what it should really be applauded for is existing at all. It proves that even the craziest idea can be turned into a fully functioning game – and a quite enjoyable one at that.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.
Review code provided by publisher.