Scram Kitty DX is, at first glance, a bright, retro looking arcade game that has you blasting round various levels collecting cats, who have somehow managed to find themselves trapped in space by evil mechanical mice. Yes, seriously.
Don’t let this cutesy introduction fool you – Scram Kitty gave me more hours of frustration than any other game has in a long time. Each level starts off with you taking control of your one person magnetic Spinboard, which allows you to traverse each level up, down and sideways, shooting the mechanical mice that get in your way. The levels are made up of blue rails that your Spinboard can traverse, jumping a short distance from each before the magnet acts like gravity pulling you back down – think of the gravity in titles like Angry Birds Space, where you can over shoot a ledge and spin round it before being drawn towards it. This can be used in your favour, and makes for some interesting attempts as you try to catapult yourself towards rails that are just out of reach.
Enemies have an added advantage in that they aren’t fixed to the rails that you are, allowing them to come at you from all sides. Did I mention that you can only shoot in the direction you are facing? This ups the challenge in that you have to then use the levels to your advantage, to turn and face the enemies as they come at you to allow you to hit them, never sitting still and shooting them from afar. New weapons are unlocked as the game progresses in what is now standard fare, and enemies come in different shapes and sizes as you make your way through the game, forcing you to master the controls to your advantage.
Jumping into Scram Kitty DX for the first time, I found it relatively straight forward to pick up and work out the controls, moving with the analogue sticks and shooting with X, but that simple set up just hides the fact that this game is fiendishly hard. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those gamers who plays on the easiest set up, I love a tricky game as much as the next guy or gal, restarting and resetting levels in the knowledge that I can do better, so maybe I should rephrase – the learning curve is steep, and by steep, I mean vertical. The game itself lacks any kind of tutorial, which game purists and veterans will love, but this contrasts with the top down 2D graphics – I was beguiled by how a game so simple and childish looking could be so difficult, and for a good many levels I was sure I was missing an important detail or tactic that I had overlooked, giving me an unnecessary handicap as I set out to rescue the cats from each level – but no, the game is just difficult to the point of frustration.
Story details are also sparse, with all the earlier details picked from the games official website and not from the game itself, which was more of an annoyance than anything else – what I was doing other than rescuing cats might be fine for the cat lovers out there, but without any explanation I couldn’t give a monkeys – truth be told I’m more of a dog person to be honest. Equally I understand that a game is just a game, get on with it have some fun yadda yadda yadda, but lack of story and direction made me feel like I was playing the game with one hand behind my back for a lot of the time.
Some may see these as petty squabbles, and be attracted by the games quirkiness and retro feel, but to me they did take away from the enjoyment, that ultimately I play games for. As a consequence I could only ever seem to play Scram Kitty DX for brief bursts at a time before either the difficulty caused me to simply rage quit and play something that I found that bit more enjoyable. Look at it as an arcade title, something to be picked up and played when waiting for the bus or in quick bursts at a time and yes, I can see how this game would quite easily become addictive and enjoyable, but for whatever reason, Scram Kitty struggled to get its claws into me.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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