Cats are cute, right? We all get that. Even dog people will grudgingly accept that there’s a few adorable cats out there. Cat Bird! is one such creature, although technically, he’s no regular cat. He’s actually a cat crossed with a bird, meaning he can glide across various areas by simply flapping his ears. It’s as absurd as it sounds but it’s the ideal starting point for a highly enjoyable if tough platformer.
The starting point for any well made platformer is its control system and, fortunately, Cat Bird! nails things immediately. Controls are of the virtual button variety, but they work. Two buttons enable you to go left or right with a third button initiating a jump or glide. You’re going to be doing a lot of gliding. Cat Bird! can’t jump very high but he can glide a fair distance, meaning you need to work on getting to a high platform often before gliding off into the distance.
That’s the basis of all 40 levels but Cat Bird! has a lot more going for it than that. There are switches and doors to unlock along the way, as well as many obstacles. Cat Bird! is a vulnerable creature meaning one hit is going to kill him. Refreshingly though, you don’t have limited lives to worry about. Instead, the game tracks how many deaths you’ve suffered, with the idea being that you’ll want to return to earlier stages to master them without a single death. It’s a more welcoming approach than having to worry about the gloom of a ‘game over’ screen.
You’re going to die a fair bit so it’s welcoming that Cat Bird! is so keen to keep you happy, while simultaneously punishing you along the way. There’s a Time Trial mode too for those that want to be as quick as possible while they fly through earlier stages.
Ultimately though, the ride itself is pretty sweet. Each level is fairly brief meaning, in theory, it won’t take you that long to play a level. It’s ideal for that bite sized nature that mobile gaming is so great at, while still giving you room to feel satisfied.
Throughout, each stage is lovingly crafted. With some delightful pixel art, it’s charming and cute, even if Cat Bird! himself is a little odd looking. When a saw blade comes flying at you, and you’re trying to glide out of the way, it’s still all conducted in a very cartoony way rather than anything too visceral. Each level is given a name that gives you some insight into what to expect from it, as well as a glimmer of a clue of how to deal with it.
Mostly though, it’s fairly intuitive stuff. Cat Bird! is about overcoming the tricky platforming and timing things just right, rather than solving any particularly tricky puzzles.
At times, there’s the odd moment where you’ll wonder if your finger slipped too far away from the button/general area and you’ve failed at gliding, but Cat Bird! is mostly pretty well constructed. It’s completely free too, albeit backed up with many ads, unless you choose to pay up to remove them. That gives you the ideal opportunity to try out Cat Bird! and see if it’s for you.
Except, of course, it really is. It’s such an easy platformer to get to grips with at first, guiding you in gently before really laying the difficulty on you. By that point, you’ll be ensorcelled by the bizarre Cat Bird! and keen to help him get back home. Presumably, to a land full of mini bat like cats.