Box Cat

I’m trying something new today: a cellphone game review. Wish me luck!

The game is “Box Cat” from Noodlecake Studios, and it’s categorized on Google Play as “Arcade & Action”, quite different from my normal choice of untimed puzzle games. I prefer to think that this will allow me to bring a fresh perspective to today’s review, rather than leading me to review all the wrong things.

All of my playing was done on the Android version on a 2013 Nexus 7 (although I did a quick test on a two-generations-out-of-date Samsung phone to confirm that there were no gross abnormalities or unacceptable lack of response). There’s also an iOS version. The iOS version is $1.99, but Android users get a bargain, as that version is a dollar cheaper.

Perhaps the best one-sentence description of Box Cat is that it’s “Frogger” in reverse. The graphics support that notion: they hearken back to the days of 8-bit arcade graphics: blocky and cute. In Frogger, the goal was to get your frogs across a busy street without being run over. In Box Cat, the goal is to allow your cat to frolic in the street, smashing the oncoming cars into each other. That’s right, Box Cat is solid and strong enough to send a two-ton car spinning across five lanes of traffic. Not too surprising, I guess, since Box Cat is almost as big as the cars. Unlike Frogger, there’s no “splat” if you miss your timing.

You can control Box Cat in two different ways: with on-screen buttons and by tilting the device. I found that tilting worked well on the Nexus, but was very sluggish on the phone. I suspect that’s specific to the phone, though, as using the on-screen buttons was quite responsive.

There are three different game modes:

In Adventure Mode, Box Cat has specific tasks to accomplish: hit a car of a particular color or a certain number of cars, collect a certain number of coins, and so on. He* needs to meet your objective and then smash a “boss” truck before a timer runs out.

In Survival Mode, Box Cat is defending a stretch of road. He has to smash all of the cars that come along. The game ends when the timer runs out or three cars sneak past.

In Rush Hour Mode, there are twice as many lanes of traffic, which makes it much easier to rack up high-scoring combinations of vehicles by bouncing one into another. Box Cat’s goal is to score as many points as possible before the timer runs out.

* For purposes of the review, I’m assuming Box Cat is male. I don’t think I’m sexist here: as far as I’m concerned, women are just as free to play in traffic as men are. My assumption is strictly because Box Cat is a big, yellow feline whose looks remind me of Rhubarb.

The music is appropriate for the graphics, and if you fall in love with it, you can download the whole soundtrack as a “name your own price” digital album. My apologies to the composer, though. I think even the most dedicated devotee of 8-bit chiptune music would agree that it goes from cute to annoying much too quickly.

As expected, I suck at the game: I over-control and zip from one side of the screen to the other, I lock my focus in the center of the screen and lose track of what’s happening at the edges, and I absolutely can’t master the control for “Dash” mode (required to take out the boss truck in Adventure mode). Let me emphasize that those are NOT faults with the game: I have exactly the same experience whenever I play arcade-style games.

Despite my failings, though, I had a good time playing with Box Cat and will be keeping him on my gadgets. IMNSHO, well worth the price. One word of advice, though: If there is anyone within 50 feet of you while you’re playing, turn off the background music.

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