Skater Cat 3DS eShop Review
Herding Cats –
Skater Cat is not your typical runner. Running into walls, falling on spikes, and even getting hit by enemies does not cause an instant one-hit kill Game Over; the only way to really die is to fall down a hole which causes a full restart.
Play control is very easy: the Circle Pad controls lateral movement and one face button jumps. Even though play control is easy to understand, the concept behind the rest of the game is never explained outside of a single non-text image found in the How To Play option. It wasn’t until after playing through the entire first world, I think, I figured out what the game wants you do it.
You play as this skateboarding cat in a colorful 2D world. Spread throughout each stage are just a few things standing between you and the end goal: spiked boulders that bark like a dog, pitfalls, some spikes, stray cats, and some kitty treats. These few elements are basically reused in different ways throughout the couple dozen stages available.
The kitty treats are the game’s biggest mystery because they are plentiful like gold coins to a Mario game but do not increase score in any way. In fact, there is no score; only fastest times get recorded. After playing through several stages I realized the game wants the player to collect as many stray cats as possible before reaching the end goal. Each stage has random stray cats that start to run away as soon as they enter the screen and it is up to the player to try and touch them. Once touched, they will follow behind unless damage is taken, giving the game a sort of energy/lives mechanic. Once the goal is crossed, the game awards the player with one to three medals and the number of cats collected is a deciding factor in the quantity of medals that are awarded. The problem is, it is very difficult to earn a two or three medal ranking and the game never tells the player what is needed to reach these rewards or how a medal is actually calculated: should I focus more on collecting cats, going faster, or gathering more cat treats?
Collecting the dozens of random treats spread throughout each stage doesn’t seem to have an effect on gameplay either. I noticed it makes some meter on the other screen grow but the player must constantly focus on the gameplay screen to avoid death since the pace is always fast and the goal is to finish in the least amount of time.
Gameplay moves at such a fast pace that the camera often cannot keep up with this skating cat especially when hitting boosters, double jumping or when moving vertically up a ramp or platform. This often leads to some cheap deaths as there are usually one or two conveniently placed jumps right at the very end of each stage. Sure, memorization plays a big role here and stages can usually be completed in about one minute but the terrible camera is even more of an enemy since there are no checkpoints or instant restarts. Even the stray cats that the player is supposed to collect get caught up on the environment and stuck with the camera. Not sure if this is bad AI programing, poor level design, or both.
One of the big selling points in this $5 download is the ability to activate Streetpass and Spotpass to exchange fastest times; these ghosts, however, are nothing more than a simple dot. Levels are only unlocked in sequential order and the second and third world will only become available when a certain number of medals are collected. Since the game never tells the player what is required to earn another medal, this form of level progression is even more tedious. But as flawed as this title is, the worst part about this game is the god-awful music. The game’s single musical track is highly annoying and loops so quickly that I had to completely turn off the sound on my 3DS. I would rather listen to the Smurf theme over and over than listen to this horrific musical track and the dumb dog barking sound effect.
Skater Cat is only costs $5 and there are some nice respectable features available for this cheap download but the annoyances and flawed designed are impossible to ignore.
Not As Good As: Jetpack Joyride
On Par With: Bird Mania 3D
Also Try: T&C Surf Design
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com