Exploding Kittens is now available to play on your iPhone. The crowd-funding phenomenon — which is officially the biggest grossing Kickstarter campaign of all time — launched this week for the price of $1.99 via the App Store. (An Android version is slated to follow shortly.)
If you’ve spent the last year living under the sort of rock that has muted all of your social media outlets, here’s a quick recap of the Exploding Kittens story:
A group of guys came up with a card game that was somewhat based on a strategic version of Russian Roulette. No one liked it. They reimagined the game to include cats (and kittens who explode) and listed it on Kickstarter. Many millions of dollars were pledged. The card game became a hit (even if cats themselves were not exactly tickled with it).
Now that Exploding Kittens is available for your iPhone, I downloaded the app to give it a test run. Here’s how it went.
First of all, let’s talk about the good parts. Exploding Kittens looks slick and suitably comical on a mobile device, especially with the cartoon cat illustrations being accompanied by some spot-on sound effects and a few visual embellishments like cat paws slapping onto the screen. There’s also a kitten-o-meter, which ostensibly lets you know the chances of drawing a soon-to-be-exploded kitten on your turn.
Taking advantage of the medium, a bunch of fresh cat cards are included (watch out for the diarrhea-plagued kitty), and expansion packs can be purchased. Oh, and the palindromic Tacocat is present and correct.
Playing Exploding Kittens is a cinch. The only real rule you need to remember is, “Basically, if you explode, you lose.” So if you draw an exploding kitten from the deck, you’re out of the game unless you can play a defuse card to temper the volatile kitty. Canny devices like laser pointers and catnip sandwiches are your allies when it comes to stopping a kitten from combusting.
Now to the snag. Exploding Kittens on your iPhone only supports local play — which means that every person playing the game will need to both buy the app and be in Bluetooth distance of you while playing. There is no option to play on your own against some artificially intelligent computer kitties, and there is no online play at the moment. This last part, however, is probably the whole reason the game should be on mobile devices in the first place.
Let me explain. A good deal of the fun with board games comes from the physical element that’s involved with them. Not so much the actual setting up of a board and moving pieces or cards around (obviously while warding off your own cat when she attempts to steal these desirable trophies), but the interaction you have with your fellow players. Banter and trash talking ensues, and the idea of friends or family congregated around a table playing together is a rustic charm in this digital world.
The iPhone version of Exploding Kittens ditches all that and doesn’t replace it with anything better. Even if you have four friends who all download the game and get together in the same room to play, it’s hard to envision how being slumped down on a couch gawping into a phone is more fun than playing the original card game.
Ideally, you’d be able to download the Exploding Kittens app and play online against your friends, whether you’re whiling away some minutes on public transport, taking a lunch break, or just unable to hang out with them in the same place.
That being so, I’d say that unless you’re fully committed to the Exploding Kittens cause and live with like-minded humans, you might want to hold off for the moment and wait until the gazillionaire brains behind the endeavor roll out some sort of online play support. Also, an option to face-off against a computer character that looks like your own cat should really be added to the mix.
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