Published on June 19th, 2014 | by Darren Bolton
Review – Scram Kitty
Summary: As the Wii U eShop ramps up, Scram Kitty adds another fantastic exclusive to the service.
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails
Format: Wii U eShop
Developer: Dakko Dakko
Publisher: Dakko Dakko
Early this year I reviewed OlliOlli on the PS Vita, declaring it the hardest game I’d played in a long, long time; well it seems that award was short lived, because here comes Scram Kitty to make sure my knuckles get another gnawing; and like all great difficult games should do, not gnawing at the frustrating design, but at my own failures. The genius of games like this and OlliOlli is that the design and controls are so good, failure is always your fault; and Scram Kitty is 90% failure, 10% success. But that success is so so sweet.
Scram Kitty is an on-rails shooter, literally. I don’t mean on-rails like Star Fox or Sin and Punishment, you are literally on a rail, with your control limited to the directions of the various rails on each level, jumping and shooting. The shooting is made harder by only having the ability to shoot straight ahead of you, meaning very often you have to move to different rails or use the curves of the rails to direct your shots at the invading mice, this is much harder than it sounds.
The game is simple in structure, get to the end of the level and collect cats along the way, you get a cat at the end of the level, then optional cats for defeating a mini-boss, collecting 100 coins and, the ones that caused me most pain, scared cats who move around the level every time you find them (the time limit is punishing on these). It is hard just to complete the level, but it in collecting all the cats which provide the biggest challenge and the biggest satisfaction – each level is so brilliantly designed, the controls so responsive, it’s a consistently great feeling completing every level, and I mean every level, because after an initial 4 stage tutorial, you’re thrown in and it’s pretty much brutal from the off.
This brutality is the more surprising with the choice of presentation, a cartoony world of cats vs mice doesn’t scream Dark Souls-esque difficulty, but it is this with gives it its extra charm; coupled with the game show styled presentation that plays on the tele (or the gamepad if you want to switch the screens around) it all feels like a saturday morning cartoon, though I don’t remember Tom and Jerry wanting me to thrown things at the tele… It is this brutality which will be the biggest barrier to some, it gets so hard so quickly it will likely put people off continuing with it, it’s definitely an acquired taste, which is a shame, a slower build in difficulty may have made it a little more approachable, though I admire Dako Dako’s lack of compromise.
The game also tries to use the Gamepad, though I feel this is the least accomplished aspect. The idea is the game is zoomed in on the gamepad, which you use to play the game and the tele offers a wider view of the level (think Donkey Kong’s Crash Course on Nintendoland), but other than providing some additional entertainment for people watching you play I didn’t find it that useful and just resorted to playing the whole with the TV off; but this doesn’t detract at all from the game.
So what we have is yet another excellent exclusive to Wii U’s eshop, and I hope people embrace it as much as they should because it’s a unique game that crosses genre and provides a huge challenge for a bargain price. There have been many gaming droughts on the Wii U, and there looks to be another as we head into the summer, this is a perfect game to pick up.