Things X 5 – Hard as nails

by Francois Joron

In the past few weeks it seems the Wii U eShop has finally been graced with the first batch of its long-promised (and publicized) indie games. With this set of releases came Scram Kitty and His Buddy On Rails, from UK developer Dakko Dakko. It is definitely a strange and demanding game that is not without its charms. In it, you’re doing no less than rescuing cats in space that have been kidnapped by mice. But what how does it play?

1

It has a unique mechanic. 

As the title implies, the whole game revolves around the unique mechanic of being literally on-rails. All the levels are made of a maze of interconnected rails with tunnels, paths, and gaps. Your vehicle can attach to almost anything in just about any directions. On the floor, on the ceiling; anywhere. In the event that you’re faced with a gap, you can employ a double-jump that doubles as a spin attack. Oh, and your ship is equipped with a turret for, you know, shooting enemies that turn out to be mice. Because it’s all about the mice versus cats.

01_ScramKitty

The mechanic is certainly unorthodox and does even have a certain Super Mario Galaxy feel to it as your ship will automatically be attracted back and forth toward the closest rails. There is a nice momentum to it and it clearly feels like the developer has tweaked the intricacies of it finest details even though I had quite a hard time grasping it even after a couple of hours of gameplay. It doesn’t help that your mounted gun can only shoot in the direction you are facing. Any group of enemies which are a tad too close to you, will most likely mean your end. If only for this reason, the mechanic feels slightly flawed and can get quite frustrating.

2

It is hard as nails. 

The unique and sometimes unreliable mechanic, coupled with an unforgiving level design and obstacle placement makes Scram Kitty a terribly challenging game. That being said, I’ve rarely felt the game to be unfair. Tricky jumps and passages ask the player for a fine understanding of the controls, which when well-executed, are very satisfying.

02_ScramKitty

The combat on the other hand, even with the new temporary weapons you can acquire in later levels, sometime feels lacking. Because you are only able to shoot in one direction, the advantage definitely belongs to the enemies and shooting while you’re maneuvering your ship on rails proves to be a bit too demanding. Shooting from a distance is often your best option, which is quite restrictive, and when you are close to a horde of enemies, performing your spin attack proves to be hard in the heat of the moment. In the end, it often feels like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. 

3

It’s like a GBA game in HD

For a reason I cannot specifically put my finger on, Scram Kitty reminds me a lot of the GBA era. The pixel graphics are one thing, but the unorthodox gameplay also took me back to the feeling of some of the handheld’s most unique titles like GameFreak’s Drill Dozer, Kuru Kuru Kururin or Treasure’s Gunstar Super Heroes.

03_ScramKitty

The game is no technical wonder but does feature bright sprites with clean decor and is quite nice to look at on a HDTV setup. Although most of the action is, by default, set to your Gamepad while the TV acts as companion display that zooms in and out of the action while a cat host shares some hints. All in all, Scram Kitty has a nice visual flair that is slick and consistent.

The pulsing electronic soundtrack that has a few nods to the classic 90s arcade sound and is another high point of the game and fits the action perfectly.

4

Its Miiverse community is nicely supported by its developer.

Another fine example of Nintendo’s Miiverse social network is how indie developers, like Dakko Dakko, can use the platform as both a promotional tool and also as a way to add value to its players. As of today, Dakko Dakko has shared a few “pro videos” that  truly shows the potential of learning the game’s intricacies.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 8.43.13 PM

5

It is for the dedicated player.

Not unlike many popular schmups and shooters, Scram Kitty rewards the dedicated player. But if overcoming its steep challenge is one thing, you have to first fully grasp its unique mechanic, which I fear will only appeal to certain elite gamers. My initial experience with the game went from curiosity to discouragement as I’ve repeatedly struggled to get past what initially seemed to be basic obstacles. If for that reason over any other, I can only recommend Scram Kitty and His Buddy On Rails with caution.

05_ScramKitty

This feature has been made based on a Nintendo eShop code provided by Dakko Dakko. Scram Kitty and His Buddy On Rails is available to download on the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U for $10.99. 

Don’t forget, you can drop me hints on my Twitter account. Also, you are welcome to send me a friend request on my Wii U, my Nintendo Network ID is Jorf-Jorf. My 3DS Friend Code is 5069-3920-3758. If you want to snoop at what I’m playing on PS3 my PSN ID is l_am_error. Have a great week!

05_ScramKitty-2

Want to win a copy of Scram Kitty and His Buddy On Rails? Follow @4colorrebellion and @dakkodakko and leave a comment below with your Twitter handle for a chance at getting a free copy! Good luck!

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