Review Notes: A code was provided for review purposes.
The Wii U has seen quite an increase in games over the course of the year. These games span from simple indie titles, to Nintendo finally plotting out its first-party intentions. With the increase in games, there have been smaller titles that might have been missed by many. Even in its obscurity, Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails brings players into a oddly placed platforming realm, with hints of a side-scrolling shooter.
The puzzler/platformer/shooter allows the player to take the role of a shooting pod that rides the rails of each level. This pod houses a turret for various lasers, guns, and utilizes a few other sleek moves. So, what’s a person to do that is placed in a high powered pod with turrets? Well, go out into space and find kitty-cats, duh.
The storyline of the game is as vague as it is obscure. You are dealt the task of fighting mechanized mice in order to save the day. These minions come in the form of snake-like enemies, who seem to have no end, to missile launching mechs that are more than a nuisance at times. However, there isn’t much told as far as storyline. The same can be said about the weapons unlocked through the course of the game. These power-ups, much like the story, become guess-and-check type goals, only revealing their purpose through discovery. These are switched in between with the (L) button. It is a wonder however why both shoulder buttons weren’t used to select them. However, don’t get too comfy. The weapons are only unlocked as soon as they are found within a level and not kept for use in previous levels.
The goal of the game is simple. Players are dropped into each level with a few things in mind. Exploration, tactical jumps, and discovering secret portions of the map are all part of this cat’s game. The goal through each level is to avoid obstacles and find hidden cats littered amongst these 2D platforms. It might sound like an easy task, but the gravitational pull that keeps the pod locked into side-walls can hinder your adventure. Memorization also becomes key being that one must make mental notes where health power was previously dangling or making sure all the previous locked doors are now accessible.
The side/top-down view of the game offers a challenging plane in which you must make strategic short or double jumps to hinge your pod from platform-to-platform. The move sets your character ablaze allowing you to destroy additional enemies that obstruct your would be path. Here we see the double-jump in all its flaming glory.
As mentioned before, you are bound to the walls of each level being that you are on a rail. This is where the gameplay becomes challenging. If you’ve ever accidentally picked up someone else’s controller that was playing with inverted settings, you will have a good idea what it’s like to navigate each map. Imagine playing with the opposite of what you feel comfortable and you have a pretty good idea of what you can expect when making leaps and bounds. Spikes, enemy fire, and reverse treadmill-like terrain will either punish or reward your efforts.
Gravitational pull can at any moment slingshot you right into harms way. This move is also used to get to hard to reach places. Speedy moves are mixed with haphazard deaths, or blessed with hairline brushes with enemy fire. The learning curve of the game does take some work and may have you rethinking your choice to play on either the GamePad or TV screen.
The game offers challenges in the form of hidden areas and completely finding all cats in a given level. New levels become accessible depending on how many total cats are located and saved. Whether it is speedy chases around the level against the clock in the Challenge Mode, or collecting all of the glowing “pennies” scattered throughout the map, Scram Kitty’s levels offer extensive replay value as most times they can’t be completed in a single playthrough.