REVIEW: Aqua Kitty

Few things elicit seventy million audible ‘Awww’s as much as kitten videos on the internet (you know you want it). Therefore, the premise of a group of cats so hard-up for milk that they resort to deep-sea milk drilling (yes, it’s a thing) in a desperate attempt to satisfy their thirst ranks somewhere between ‘Awww’ and ‘Where the hell did these cats gain the know-how and opposable thumbs to do so?’. Such is the idea behind Aqua Kitty (240 MSP), a previously Playstation Vita-only indie shooter that’s now scratched and pawed its way to the XBLIG channel.

#Xbone joke, check!

Piloting a submarine, and tasked with protecting the milk miners during their massive milk extraction, you’ll battle through waves of enemies in each level, stamping out multiple foot soldiers and would-be kidnappers (the red dots on your minimap). With separate hub continents amounting to new ‘worlds’, bringing with them tougher enemies and / or more waves, there’s no shortage of stages and variety.

It plays roughly the same regardless of ‘world’, each level just one big circle of hazards and foes, with a varying number of miners to watch over. Completion only requires one cat be left alive, though ultimately your score relies on you saving them all and keeping your combo meter high. In addition to your regular gun, a limited secondary shot fires a stronger and more concentrated blast, which clears out mobs quickly. Your overall power level is increased with each new ‘world’ hub unlocked, though judicious use of that secondary fire (it regenerates when not in use) is a surefire way to win.

Powerups prove essential in that victory as well, which include screen-decimating bombs and co-kitty pilots laying down suppressing fire for a limited time. Health is at a premium in Aqua Kitty, just nine lives three hearts per level, with occasional heart pickups dropped, provided you shoot them at the right moment; depending on the depth you open them, you can in essence ‘choose’ your powerup. Still, there’s little time or room for error, as each wave brings with it a renewed sense of urgency.

Aqua Kitty - Screen

Co-op makes all the difference in later rounds.

And you’ll have to be quick in your assessments, eyes darting from the minimap to the action and back several times, taking care not to be vaporized in the interim. It’s a challenge that legitimately feels rewarding when you have a perfect run, though casual players take note— the difficulty increases significantly in the second half of the game, more or less urging you to seek out a second set of eyes and hands. The local co-op, added for the Xbox port, could be the solution here, as playing solo on the later levels was a one-way ticket to frustration, in my experience.

That’s not much of a warning to those that appreciate a stiff fight, though, making Aqua Kitty a more than suitable shooter for those with a ‘cat / underwater / cats underwater’ fetish. There are no online leaderboards, sadly, and the price might tilt higher than the usual XBLIG release, but if you missed out previously on the Vita version or just love fine feline pixel art, the game transfers excellently.


Review on Indie Gamer Chick

15 thoughts on “REVIEW: Aqua Kitty”

  1. This really is a fantastic little game: absolutely amazing pixel art, music, and really fun, simple gameplay, love it!

    The one thing that holds it back for me, though, is that it feels like the view is zoomed really far out and my withering old man eyes constantly strain trying to take everything in at once. It feels almost like playing Castlevania: HoD strictly with the full map view. I wonder if a more ‘traditional’ screen resolution and aspect ratio would be a possible option for a later version of the game?

    I’m guessing this might be less of an issue playing the game on a proper PC monitor, so I’m hoping it makes it to Steam as well. 😉

    1. I have to agree, I do love me some pixel art. I didn’t have the same issue with making out the action while playing it, though that could be because I’m playing on a TV big enough to spot a grain of dust on a table in the corner of a digital room. 🙂 Given how many threats can be on-screen at once, I wonder if bringing the view in would make the game even harder.

  2. Nice review, good to find another site dedicated to Xbox Live Indies. I dont play that many AAA games (yep, there’s something wrong with me) so is good to find these kinds of stuff. The only thing is that XL indies got me spoiled, so, is kinda hard pay more than one dollar for game, but this one looks pretty good.

    1. I can’t argue you with you on either point, except to say Aqua Kitty feels solid enough to be a $3 title. The $1 tag is a hard habit to break, I know. I still find AAA games that I like, but you could be forgiven for avoiding them. Lot more expensive, and a lot of sequels and reboots, Hollywood-style. 2013 has been better than average so far, with Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, and now The Last of Us. All easily worth the full price, and even more so if you wait for a sale.

  3. Good solid game with a good review to puss in boot. Got my vote to get on steam as well. I tweeted to my 10 followers on twitter in case anyone wants the game for free as I’m passing on wining the free game so that someone else can get it. I did however think that for this basic platformer that 240 points was high but I think I’m getting jilted in what I expect to pay for indie games on XBLIG.

    1. Thanks as always! 🙂 The price is comparable to the PS Mini / Mobile (not sure what Playstation uses as the definitive indie label) version, which yeah, on XBLIG feels a little high to some. Where it’s artificially high for some games, it feels right for Aqua Kitty. Solid game, as you said. That’s probably the price point that XBone indies will follow, if and when that situation is made more clear.

  4. First person to respond to this comment wins themselves the chance to help poor, unfortunate cats mine milk out of the ocean, courtesy of developer Tikipod. Do it for the kittens!

    1. OK….I’ve run out of new games to play. (I’m bad at wanting to play something new all the time and thus the reason I have well over 200 games) Last few days I have been considering buying me a Ouya when it comes out but in the mean time if you have not found someone for the free Aqua Kitty I would love to have it. TY Tikipod in advance!

      BTW Ouya looks like it is going to be a great platform for Indie game developers and I may actually at the very ripe age of 48 throw my hat into the fray and try to see I can teach an old dog new tricks. Last time I did any programming was on a C64. But the Ouya looks like it may be right up my alley.

    2. Nope, code is all yours. I had no takers, even after screaming ‘Free kitties!’ up and down my block. With 200 games, man, you are officially stacked! I shouldn’t say much, though, as I still have piles of retail games that I’ve only begun to play. I’ve been getting better, though I do need to finish them before the next generation of consoles hits.

      Speaking of consoles, I was extremely excited about the Ouya, so much so that I backed them when they were on Kickstarter. Got mine about three weeks ago, now, plugged it in, played a few of the demos that were available… and haven’t touched it since. Things will pick up when the system goes on sale to the public, and I’m still excited to see what games I’ll get to play that I otherwise might’ve missed, but yeah, talk about a deflating system. I don’t know about other backers, but I was pretty much ‘Meh’ about it by the time it arrived.

      That said, if you’ve got some programming skills and an idea, I’d go for it. I don’t know if I would have the patience for programming or learning it, though I am jealous of anyone that’s got the talent.

      Oh, and Aqua Kitty is on its way to your email.

    3. I really feel a bit dumb right now, next time I will keep my hearing (well eyes) prepare for your next screams. Well, my english is not that perfect so I will blame that to not feel that stupid. And you are right, especially in The Last Of Us, that is a game a would really would have payed the full price, alas, I dont own a PS3. Buyed the 360 for the XLA and found the indies by accident and loved it. Liked the leaderboard lots of games I did not know, keep the good work…. and the screamings.

    4. Ah. I’d say your English is pretty good, actually, so don’t feel bad about that. If anything, it’s hard to spot that one ‘free giveaway’ comment buried under all the others. You are in luck, though. I’ve got a post coming on Wednesday to celebrate the site being online for one year, and I’ll be giving away a bunch of unused codes for a lot of the games I’ve reviewed here, so you’ll have plenty of chances to play some indies. 🙂

    5. Woo Hooo!!! I waited all weekend giving everyone else a chance at it but I just couldn’t help myself. 🙂 THANKS!!

      Never heard about Ouya till the other day so I’m stoked. My only question on it that I can’t find an answer too is how are the graphics on the games on a big screen? I know it supports up to 1080 but are the developers using it and how does it look on a big screen?

    6. They’re pretty sharp, and look good on my 52″ screen (thankfully, the Ouya shipped with an HDMI cable). I know it runs off of Android, though I’m not sure on the full graphics capabilities of the system. What’s out already looks crisp / clean, though, so you shouldn’t have any worries there. The price is decent, so there’s really not much to lose if you love indie games. I just worry it’ll be a bunch of existing phone / indie ports, with no real ‘exclusives’ or big games to push systems out the door. And with PS4 (pushing Indie gaming hardcore) and XBone (eh, not so much) on the very near horizon, it could be lost in the shuffle altogether. Time will tell.

    1. No problem. Hope it gets a nice reception on XBLIG. And best of luck with getting on Steam. It’s a tough nut to crack, but you got my vote. 🙂

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