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Cat Frenzy - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Cat Frenzy

DSiWare | Teyon / Peakvox / FUN UNIT | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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12th May 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

I wonder if the development team has a cat in their offices. Better yet, a cat with a short attention span. For a game featuring cats, it's probably a safe bet, right? You might think me to be silly for even starting off like this, but it really would be perfect if that was the basis for this game given the kind of reaction I can see most having towards it. Like a chew toy with not much rattle or jive in it, one bite is probably all you'll want or need to get out of Cat Frenzy.

    Cat Frenzy is a plain and simple match-three game where the developers have cats replacing jewels, stones, and the other common objects you normally associate with games belonging to this genre. Before calling it a day, though, a bit more has been done to make the game feel more unique. Aside from the standard ability to create consecutive chain reactions, the game space can be shifted in a way that differs from the usual swap system. Presented in the form of a grid with an X and Y axis, players can control an entire row or column by using the stylus to drag one item in front to push items beside, underneath, or on top of it in a given direction. The controls are a little sensitive, but nothing you'll have to take some time to get used to. Doing so, you can actually go so far as to push a cat or two off the grid entirely and eliminate them from play that way if it works in favor of what you're trying to do. The presence of stones will prevent you from dragging in a given direction, but nearby reactions can make these disappear as well.

For when you run out of cats to match on the board, you can press the Stock button to cause several to fall from the top. This is only really needed when you have yet to reach the next level-up as you'll get new additions automatically that way with no cost to you. Same goes for making chains; free cats are usually thrown in as if they were a promotional bonus. These occurrences are hardly limited-time offers, thus the need for the Stock button only really comes into play on select occasions. Still, having this in place means that the game won't stop the minute you can no longer make a successful grouping, so that can be seen as a good thing.

    The simplicity may be a cause of this, but the average player will form an opinion on the game very quickly, and to the game's fault, nothing is done to distance or change that opinion for the better. Depending on the nature of said opinion, it may even add to it. Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: "Frenzy" isn't the word I'd associate with the action seen here. Matching similar entities of cats? Cute, maybe. But hardly a frenzy, especially when these cats aren't screaming at you or doing anything else to relate to that feeling. Doesn't mean it's a bad thing necessarily, but anyone going into this not knowing what the gameplay is actually about may feel disappointed right away that they won't be tending to maniacal animals. 

    At any rate, getting back to what I was saying before about adding to a less than positive opinion, I do feel the game is more user-friendly for kids than other match-three clones I've encountered. Not to mention the presentation is, you've got to admit, an easy seller. But -- and here's the point I want to make -- the skills and, for younger players, learning experience that usually goes along with these games has been minimized here which is an interesting side effect to trying to cater to young audiences in the way they've chosen to do so. It is so easy to pull off chains to the point where not much planning is involved or even needed. As a matter of fact, oftentimes it feels like much of the work is done for you. Simply move one cat into place and a whole bunch of reactions go off naturally. The frequency with which this occurs is reduced once you switch to Hard mode, but even then, similar points still apply. In short, Cat Frenzy may be cute, but it's not cuddly. Cuddly would imply a person possibly warming up to the game, that they would feel comfortable, even eager to spend time with it. But as I referenced earlier, it really is a matter of playing for a short span of time before you tire of the gameplay and lose interest in playing.

To give you something else to do, the developers offer players a series of mission objectives which aren't exactly to the same style as what is filed under the Quickplay option outlined above. The first 15 missions are all about causing a desired reaction by way of achieving a certain number of consecutive chains. Missions 16 through 28 have you eliminating a specific cat, although the methodology is still the same as previous missions -- to cause reactions so that the board is pretty much clear when you're done. And then all the remaining missions have you getting rid of all cats (and stones too in some cases). I understand they tried to have these missions serve a purpose to further the main match-three aspect so it wouldn't seem as though Cat Frenzy didn't have much to offer. But for the target audience this game is apparently aimed at, I really don't think these mission objectives work all that well.

    Many of the puzzle layouts are set up in such a way that it really just boils down to trial and error, and not the fun kind either. Because these missions are very particular about only having one possible solution, when every try feels like a dead-end, it doesn't take long for the average person to tire of the structure as a whole. Good thing for the developers, they don't force players to go through missions one at a time in a linear sequence of events. Players can, instead, pick and choose which mission they'd like to tackle, which certainly minimizes the lack of interest that begins to form as you try to push through these hitched-up walls. But this doesn't change the fact that with the number of options that often exist when only one of these will produce results, this mode asks a bit much of kids for them to figure things out on their own. I can totally see young gamers spending more time just trying different possibilities and going at it by a process of elimination, because that's exactly what I did half the time. I'm not sure how a child is supposed to determine where to begin and know which move will actually set off the whole chain of events that the developers are looking for.

Presentation-wise, I have no major concerns to report. As I said before, the environment created by having these cats purring and meowing is borderline adorable, but it isn't anywhere near engrossing. And I can't muster up any positive comments about the visual style other than it being nice, so take that as you will. The music works just fine, so I can't really find fault there either. I'd say the presentation is an average effort overall with nothing special to capture your attention for, again, more than a few seconds.

    Cat Frenzy performs nicely in some respects and the appeal tries to liven up a basic premise, but at the same time, it doesn't perform as well as it should if the hope is to get players to not only be drawn in, but have a desire to come back. The game, as it turns out, is little more than seeing an unmoving piece of art at a museum. It catches your interest a bit, but once a minute has gone by and you feel no further reason to glance at or think about it, you move on and don't look back. While I can see some justifying a purchase for a $2 game, I stand by the disposition that there are better purchases one can make.

17/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Simple with expected features, shift the grid in a slightly different way, a few structural complaints, little to sustain interest
Presentation 6/10 - Visual style works just fine but is ultimately nothing special, environment is a bit enticing, music is functional, no major flaws to report
Enjoyment 3/5 - What little fun factor that exists is short-lived, action seen here can hardly be described as a frenzy, missions boil down to trial and error
Extra Content 2/5 - Decent number of missions but they aren't enjoyable, Quickplay option, only $2 but there are better ways to spend your money

Equivalent to a score of 57% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Cat Frenzy
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