May 6, 2014
Where would the Internet be without cats? The cute, furry creatures have invaded Tumblr, YouTube and Internet memes. Whatâ€™s the next step towards feline world domination? Video games, of course.
Cats are the star in Kitten Challenge, an indie game developed by Robert Nikicionek currently available for free on the Google Play Store. While the gameâ€™s star, Ginger Kitten, is an inviting kitty that could be the star of a childrenâ€™s cartoon, the titleâ€™s true keyword is â€œchallenge.â€ Disguised behind colorful backgrounds and old school level design, frustratingly difficult gameplay makes Kitten Challenge addictive fun.
In roller coaster-guided levels, the adorable Ginger rides a cart on rails, collecting coins and avoiding obstacles along the way. Players must flip Ginger upside down and jump–or use a combination of both–in order to dodge blocks and clear levels. Because cats have nine lives, hitting an obstacle wonâ€™t instantly end your run, but fail too often, and you will have to start again. Each run nets players a score based on their performance.
Kitten Challenge doesnâ€™t seem like much of a challenge at first, but it quickly turns difficult. Gameplay elements are gradually introduced to players as they advance through levels. Beginning stages solely involve flipping the cart around and jumping over obstacles, but players quickly learn that jumping is much more complex while obstacles come faster and faster.
Ginger can come down from jumps quickly or use its tail to float in the air while descending. This can be used to glide over longer obstacles or pounce swiftly to grab coins. Sections of rails also make Gingerâ€™s cart move faster or slower, forcing players to adjust to new speeds on the fly. Controls are simple–players simply tap the left or right side of the screen to perform maneuvers–but they can easily be confused while attempting to clear levels.
Like classic games from the NES era, Kitten Challenge forces players to flex their brain muscles as well as their thumbs. Players should not expect to complete levels on their first try; passing stages involves repetition and memorization. The sense of accomplishment comes not from passing levels quickly, but instead is achieved by finding the best sequence of maneuvers to avoid obstacles and collect the most coins before reaching the end of the roller coaster.
If Kitten Challenge were a show cat, it would score a perfect 10 on level design. The gameâ€™s levels are bright, brilliant reminders of the past. Colorful backgrounds and simply designed obstacles are reminiscent of Mario Bros.–and the running score on the top right of the screen hammers home the comparison.
Despite their charm, levels are maddeningly difficult. Roller coasters twist around awkwardly placed obstacles, putting playersâ€™ reflexes to the test. In haste, players will find themselves pressing the wrong buttons on their way to their inevitable death–and because of this, Kitten Challenge makes players think â€œI can pass this level with one more try.â€
Kitten Challenge will test your reflexes, memory and patience, as well as your love of kittens. Ginger Kittenâ€™s cuteness wears off rapidly as players begin to associate the game more with frustration than adorable cats. However, great level design and addictive gameplay ensure that Kitten Challenge always lands on its feet.