Kitty’s got claws (and C-4).
The iPhone has no shortage of games that have you flinging cartoony creatures at various targets with something approximating physics. If you imagine an Angry Birds where you navigate levels with multiple flings of your cute mascot, rather than aiming for a single stationary objective, you’ve got a pretty good handle on what Bombcats is like. Are we at our saturation point for using animals as projectiles, or will you want to spend all nine of your lives playing Bombcats?
In the realm of nonsensical still-frame comic book-style framing devices to justify puzzle games, Bombcats’ intro stands out as particularly incoherent. There’s a magic wand in there somewhere, but basically you’re using exploding cats to break bubble shields that are trapping other exploding cats, who then explode in turn when rescued. Don’t ask me why.
Controls here are mostly tight, but gameplay is particularly and surprisingly demanding. Your initial fling of your kitty also lights its fuse (yes I’m still talking about the game), and from that point you’ve got limited time to reach your imprisoned feline counterparts. You can make your cat jump a limited number of times, or even initiate additional launches. The mechanic of catching your cat in mid-flight and changing direction with another fling seems like something that might be left to dedicated players to master, but actually it’s essential to completing even some of the game’s early levels. As with Angry Birds, there are also multiple cat types that you’ll unlock over time, like a cat that sticks to the walls.
Like a lot of iOS games I’ve played recently, there are simply too many levels here. Maybe it’s a subjective thing, but I actually want to finish the games I play, not be buried under perceived “value,” and certainly not inundated with filler. That’s not a huge issue, but what is an issue are the time-sensitive mash-ups of previous stages dotting Bombcats’ roadmap. This is a game where you basically need to S-rank every stage in order to move on to the next. Gluing multiple (re-used) stages together and having you start the whole bunch over if you fail on the last one is heresy for a mobile title, and something that gaming in general has moved on from. To put it simply, no one wants to get stuck in a game they’re playing on their phone.
I would have also liked to see Bombcats boast a better art style and music. This game is more Mr. Crab than Stay Alight!, and having to look at the drabness doesn’t help ameliorate the urge to exit to the home screen when you’re stuck on one of the timed multi-stages. Bombcats is a good game brought down by a couple bad design decisions, but it’s still worth picking up if you need more physics-based animal launchers in your life. The game does provide the option to skip a level every two hours, but it would have made a lot more sense to just not have levels the player was going to want to skip. Meow.