No one likes going back to work after a lazy holiday weekend, but if your nine-to-five has you chained to a computer screen all day, why not dabble in the world of fun and free feline-based video games? Simply load them up in your browser window and indulge in some sneaky cat-play — just make sure you have a Word document handy to hide the window if needed.
In the interests of post-Labor Day lounging, here’s seven of the best, sparked by last week’s release of the snazzy Clockwork Cat game. Ever concerned about consumer friendliness, I also added a spurious rating-of-sorts after each game based on my cat Mimosa’s reaction. (Note: Click on each game’s title to play the game in a new window. They should all adhere to International Safe for Work standards.)
Kreayshawn is a professional cat fanatic-turned-rapstress, so it figures that when it came to making a video game to promote her “Breakfast” song it would involve a feline character. You take control of a vaguely Hello Kitty-like sprite who is charged with moving left and right to catch various breakfast foodstuffs falling from the sky. Chowing down on bacon and pancakes is good, but hot sauce will cause kitty Kreay to turn red in the face and lose points. Just like in real life.
Breakfast is a fun looker and has a vivid cartoon appeal, but it’s let down by clunky controls — perhaps those rabbit slippers aren’t the quickest feline footwear to sport when you’re trying to gobble up a breakfast feast.
Mimosa says: “Too many silly rabbits, not enough gravy.”
Clockwork Cat was crafted in only 48 hours as a featured title in the Ludum Dare accelerated video game competition, but its super-short gestation period belies its quality. The premise involves a white cat having to reach a series of gears and wind them back with a wrench — which sets a giant Big Ben-style clock back ten seconds. Each ten second interval becomes like a micro puzzle in itself: Hop down and grab a key, ride a crate back to the top and high-tail it along a platform and through a locked door to the next gear. Then you take a breather and it’s on to the next rush of action.
Clockwork Cat is a delightful conceit: The dynamic of having to reach the next wrench within ten seconds adds a charming jittering rhythm to the gameplay, while the pixel-styled graphics and lullaby-esque music are utterly charming. A full-on feline masterpiece.
Mimosa says: “Can you turn back the hands of time? MOL.”
3. Sushi Cat
From what I can gather of the animated introduction to Sushi Cat, the premise here involves the feline of the title wanting to eat as much sushi as possible to attain a sumo-wrestler-sized physique to impress a pinkish cat he sees snoozing in an apartment window. “Eat 30 pieces of sushi to achieve a full belly,” is the only instruction you’re given when you take on Sushi Cat’s mission — and it’s a goal you’ll need to achieve by dropping the rotund hero being held by two chopsticks at the top of the screen and hoping that he’ll bounce into the sushi during his descent. Chow down on every singly bit of sushi and a Sushi Frenzy is achieved.
Sushi Cat might reveal itself to be a nuanced physics-based puzzler later on, but at the start it all seems a bit random. Still, only the biggest curmudgeon would begrudge a cat the chance to fill up on fish.
Mimosa says: “Wasabi paste is an abomination. International action is needed.”
4. Gloomy Cat
Everyone loves a moody feline. Here you guide Gloomy Cat along a side-scrolling world, jumping over rocks and slashing crates out of your way. (Unfortunately, the sad feline hero uses a sword as a weapon, not his claws.) The gameplay is tricker than the simple controls will suggest, and one false move will end your turn. Not one for amateur feline players.
Mimosa says: “It’s no Grumpy Cat.”
Hyper Furball is billed by its makers as “a side-scrolling RPG about a cute cat named Furball trying to rid the world of mushrooms and babies.” Which seems like a totally reasonable thing to ask of a cat. The title is spread out over 15 levels, and Furball has two main moves with which to complete his mission: The space bar has him swiping at a foe while the shift key sees him ball up to protect from attacks. He can also sup on bonus milk bottles to enter hyper mode, wherein things go a little psychedelic and crazy.
The presentation is top notch throughout, but the action becomes tedious pretty quickly. Power ups are available, but I lost interest due to the repetitive combat. Still, it’s a decent distraction and helps reinforce the righteous opinion that cats are cuter than babies.
Mimosa: “No, I don’t want to see another photo of your new baby.”
In this game you’re a cat who ends up being turned into metal and becoming magnetized. And you have to traverse through a bunch of platform-puzzle levels to escape. Or return to your furry state. Or something. Magnetic Cat has an appealing bizarro setup but it’s let down by clumsy controls: You have to switch between keyboard controls to move ol’ magnet-puss but also utilize the mouse to magnetize various metal parts of the level to proceed. The real deal-breaker is in the details, though: Why is a metal cat killed by touching metal spikes? Totally not realistic.
Mimosa says: “It’s just not an accurate rendition of current cat-science knowledge.”
You are charged with one simple task in indie game maker Terry Cavanagh’s ChatChat: “Be a cat.” Enter your name, pick a room to frolic in and, well, do whatever you think a cat really does all day. You know, explore, pick up objects like mice, and attempt to interact by typing messages to other cats. Who are also controlled by behind-the-scenes humans.
ChatChat wins by virtue of the sheer strangeness of it all. The atmosphere flips from moments of serenity to sheer silliness in a way that makes you smile. You’ll also become quite attached to your own cat avatar — as I was with my little blue Mimosa sprite.
Mimosa says: “Woah, who turned the webcam on?”
Do you play any cat-themed games? Tell us about them in the comments!
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