Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cats Away [NNT + ZigZaGame] - $0.99

Casual arcade games are a sort of secret obsession of mine. With as many as there are in the AppStore, it’s really no wonder a lot of gamers are looking for more when it comes to their app purchases, but when it comes to score-chasing casual arcade titles, especially games with combo and multiplier systems, I just eat that stuff up, and love every minute of it. NNT + ZigZaGame’s new title, Cats Away, is the most recent little addiction of mine, already sucking away at least 5 hours of my spare time.

In Cats Away you’ll collect cats with different UFOs which you’re able to purchase with coins that you earn in every game. The higher your score, the more coins you get, the more coins you get, the better ships you can afford, and the better ships you have, the higher your score’s gonna be. It’s a vicious cycle, and getting wrapped up in it will cost you hours upon hours of your life. 
The game starts out a little slow at first, with your one and only ship able to only pick up the smallest cats on the screen, earning you only a couple coins with each game. But luckily, the developers over at ZigZaGame have also included an upgrade system. For 10 coins, you’re able to increase the stats of your first ship, making it a lot more powerful than you’d think. Before you know it, you’re controlling a pretty decent UFO, and are working your way up to hitting 1,000,000+ points and getting 100+ coins per game. 

There are 4 separate worlds in Cats Away, each offering up fairly distinctive gameplay, and very different environments, each with their own ways of getting huge scores. In the first world, you’re given 90 seconds to collect as many cats as you can. These cats range from small to extremely large, with the larger ones really testing your patience, and pretty much just laying there laughing at you as you unsuccessfully try and pick each of them up. There’s bushes all over the level, which hide more cats, as well as power-ups and coins behind them. Your UFO’s beam is able to break up the bushes, revealing their hidden goodies, and this is something you’ll need to do over and over again if you want to score big.
The first world contains sleeping power-ups, which put all of the cats to sleep for a short period of time, making it easier to snatch them up, beam power-ups, which upgrade the strength of your UFO’s beam, making it easier to pick up the small kittens, and, depending on how many of these you can uncover, you’ll be able to pick up the medium sized cats as well. Lastly, there’s the cat fever powerup, which draws more small cats in from the edges of the screen. Collecting the Beam and Cat Fever powerups are essential in getting large scores. In each additional world after, you’ll come across more and more power-ups and special boosters, like meteors which hit the ground, and throw all of the cats into the air, making them easier to grab, time pick-ups, adding 5 seconds or more to your time limit, and more. 

The scoring system is one of my favorite aspects of Cats Away. Getting huge scores (in the millions) is always a plus with casual score-chasing arcade titles. It leaves a lot of room between the first and last place scores on the GameCenter leader boards, which, in turn, adds to the drive to better your score, if even just by a couple hundred points. You’re given a combo bonus each time you collect more than 2 cats at the same time. The more cats you collect at once, the larger your bonus will wind up being. This has a huge effect on the gameplay, with loads of cats on the screen at once, it’s almost impossible to not try and grab as many as you can before sucking all the cats into your UFO. However, this means that the cats floating around in the UFO’s beam have more time to be tossed about, and even flung out of the beam. It’s a nice risk-reward, especially with the game’s time limits. 
The controls in Cats Away took me a little playing around with before I really felt comfortable with them. But once I did, it became very easy to get into a groove, and loose hours of my life. The UFO will jump above your thumb wherever you place it on the screen. This might seem strange, since it’ll cover up the area where you collect cats, but this makes the UFO’s beam appear under your thumb, which is a perfect placement for it. Dragging your thumb across the screen, the beam will pick up any cats which it’s strong enough to grab. Once you have cats floating around in the beam, you’ll need to take the UFO up to the top portion of the screen in order to successfully snatch everything up. If you don’t take the UFO to the top of the screen, you’ll just have cats, power-ups and coins floating around in your beam, and once it’s full, start flinging them all over the screen. 

The graphics and animations are very well done, adding quite a bit to the gameplay. It’s great seeing cats being flipped every which way while in the air on their way into the spaceship. The exploding bushes and projectiles that some ships are equipped with have minimal animations, but they fit the graphic look of the game very well. The physics are another very polished aspect of the game, with each cat having their own weight and feeling to them, adding another layer to the gameplay. All-n-all, it’s a very polished game that you can tell a lot of thought went into while creating it. 

Priced at $0.99, being Universal, and including GameCenter integration with boards for each of the 4 worlds adding to the already insanely high replay value. Fans of the genre, or score-chasing fanatics should definitely check out Cats Away. There’s loads of unlockables, and the incredibly addictive gameplay will give you hours upon hours of gaming entertainment. I’m definitely looking forward to updates, hoping that more worlds and ships will be added, but even more so, I’m on the edge of my seat wondering what ZigZaGames will come up with next. They’ve definitely figured out how to spark all the right nerves in our video game focused brains.


Cats Away is one of the best casual arcade games I've played all year. Great review! I really hope more people check it out.

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