Kitten Taxi: A Tale of Cats, Guns, Explosives & Heists
Everybody loves cats (right? What’s wrong with you?). What’s more adorable than cats doing cat things? How about Cats robbing banks and making violent, bloody escapes? Don’t worry, that’s not where I was expecting a game like this to head either, and it’s not the only conflict I have when talking about this game, developed by Wonder People Co.
A Looker or an Eyesore?
Perhaps my biggest point of conflict with Kitten Taxi is that I can’t decide whether I love the art style or hate it. It’s obviously been painstakingly created, but the doodle style animation that it uses makes the in action sequences very muddled and harsh on the eyes. It looks great in the game menus and in still screenshots, yet I find myself wishing it took on different appearance during the actual gameplay.
The title is a little misleading. This is not a game about a cat that goes around taking people from place to place. This is a story about a cat that’s clearly stolen a taxi and is now using it as a getaway vehicle for his bank robbing buddies.
That’s just the start, though. Not only has this pair of kittens stolen a cab, they’re also being chased through the city by the police; and they’re fending them off with shotguns, rifles, pistols and dynamite. These are truly cats that don’t attempt to hide their inner demons, instead choosing to unleash them upon the poor policeman charged with detaining them. Continue Reading
Release Date: 14/08/2014
Available on: iOS, Android
Microtransactions Get in the Way
So at its core, this is a getaway game. Each level consists of you trying to avoid the various levels of heat – first squad cars, then more serious armoured SWAT vehicles and the occasional boss. Your car is controlled by swiping left and right on the screen, which you do to avoid the sticks of dynamite thrown at you and also to collect coins which can be used at the end of each level to get a chance at a reward (yes, it’s one of those games).
Each level does seem to drag on a bit too much. Undoubtedly, this to encourage you to use premium currency to guarantee more powerful upgrades, and it’s something that the game doesn’t really attempt to hide. Playing without spending real money on upgrades, some of the boss fights were nothing more than tedious; they weren’t particularly difficult, they just took ages and a ton of bullets to defeat.
Here’s the things with microtransactions – I would be happier spending £2 on the game than paying for gems which I then have to spend again in game to buy upgrades. Most egregious of all is that I feel like the game design has been altered to encourage in-app purchases, which is my least favourite way developers treat consumers. Rather than encouraging the purchase through good gameplay and enjoyment, they use the element of frustration.
Potential for Expansion
The city you start in has 15 banks that are ripe for the picking. Already here’s an opportunity for future content – new cities with a different look, types of enemies and weapons are a possibility that would allow the developer to maintain the same standard without spending a ton on the additional development.
I choose to remain cautiously optimistic about Kitten Taxi because the gameplay itself is actually pretty exciting (boss battles aside) – the action comes thick and fast and you’re constantly having to control your Taxi despite the control scheme being as simple as possible. The variation from level to level is impressive, and it helps prevent the game from feeling repetitive, which is something that a lot of mobile games fail to achieve.
Complaints about the art style notwithstanding, Kitten Taxi is a frustrating game with a lot of potential. I do feel that the game has been hindered somewhat by the will to encourage players to make in-app purchases, and that’s left me with a sour taste. It’s nearly a really good game, it just needs to be less overwhelming in its presentation and they need to take another look at the business model. Perhaps Kitten Taxi 2 will be the ‘cat that gets the milk’, as they say.
Kitten Taxi is developed by Wonder People.