Review Naughty Kitties [Android, iOS] Freemium
Developer: Coconut Island Games
Genre: Side-scrolling space shooter, endless runner, tower defense
Naughty Kitties might have launched a year ago on iOS, but the Android audience just got their port delivered this month, so the titular cats are only making their way to the thousands of Android devices. And thousands there will be for the game is ultimately fun, and if you like tower defense, space shooters, endless runners or cats, you should definitely try it.
As far as the story line goes, we can tell the cats’ planet is being invaded by aliens, which come in waves and hoards. So, cats leave behind their homes and jobs and all the fun feline activities they have been enjoying, arm themselves with powerful skills and weapons, mount a fighter jet, or rather a fleet of fighter jets, and set out on an alien-extermination spree.
The gameplay is a thoroughly enjoyable mix of TD, space shooter and endless runner (because the rocket flies automatically), and you could compare it with a cat-themed FTL, only lighter.
By default, you have two cat types unlocked, and as you progress you unlock and buy more kitten characters. They come in great variety, and anyone will enjoy the cute and funny protagonists. Some come with powerful weapons, others come with engineering skills and fix your rocket when it gets damaged.
So, the cats you have make a line to the three buttons at the left bottom corner of your screen. Once you see a rocket, you can start dragging kittens from those ready slots to the slots in the rocket, and the cats will immediately start doing their jobs automatically – shoot or fix.
The kittens get tired, so you have to keep an eye on their battery status and once it’s nearing the red mark, you need to send them to rest. You can do so by tapping and dragging the tired cat away from its slot and it will automatically pop up a balloon and fly away to safety. If you don’t, however, the tired kitten gets exhausted and dies. Sigh.
The kitten slots at the bottom of the screen also need a recharge before they provide you with the next soldier, and if you see they have readied a character you don’t need currently, like an engineer cat instead of a fighter cat, you can send the engineer off on a balloon by simply dragging and releasing it outside the rocket. It will simply go back to the end of the line, and the recharging slot will produce the next character.
The levels have several boss fights, and once in a while you will be able to use a power weapon button, which burns everything in your rocket’s radius. It also needs a recharge after the use. The further you progress, the more perks you will be able to use, like a wingman that appears in most difficult situations.
Kittens make combos, and if you load the rocket with three kittens of the same type, they make a combo, and their collective effect is great. However, they get tired pretty fast when working in a combo, so you need to replace them faster. Notably, if you replace only one kitten in a combo where all cats are tired with the identical kitten of the same type, the other two kittens get a full battery re-charge. So you can re-use the same combo multiple times, as long as you have the new kittens in the bottom queue slots. Just remember to send the ones you don’t need away and let the slots produce the ones you need.
The controls are easy, especially since the cats aim and shoot, or fix, automatically, and all you have to do is keep tabs on their energy, on the ship’s HP to fix it on time, and use the power blast button at the right moment.
As I said, you will be steadily unlocking new cats, and all of them require attention – you can’t just exploit them mercilessly on the battlefield. Each can has an “Upgrade” and “Evolve” option, and as you might have guessed, each upgrade and evolution costs you in-game coins. You earn them by playing.
That said, upgrading seems possible while evolving costs 20.000 coins, and considering you can earn about a thousands per level, the game will sooner or later turn into a grinding machine.
Occasionally, you will be able to use a free meal to feed your cats, like fish or dry food, and sometimes you just see a button to feed the cat for free, while on other occasions you will be able to buy the meal for some 200 coins (expensive!), but sometimes you will be able to watch a video ad in exchange for something free.
In terms of customization and unlockables, you will also earn enough coins to unlock more spaceships that are faster, have more HP and more powerful power blasters. Although, be ready for some hardcore grinding.
It is worth mentioning Naughty Kitties is build around the freemium model, which restricts your progress in time if you do not wish to spend real money on it. The game only gives you 5 hearts per gameplay session, which restore over time, so the gameplay is restricted to five runs. It doesn’t affect the fun factor if you play casually, but if you have an hour of free time on your hands and want to spend it playing the game, you will be pushed back by the limiting energy meter. That is, if you don’t wish to pay.
A bundle of seven lives costs $0.99, and there are more bundles up to a 480 lives for $30. The is also one IAP option to remove ads.
It is hard to earn the coins to buy new cats by grinding because the cats are expensive while the amount of coins you earn per one run is limited. Thus, in case you restrict your IAP consumption, you will either have to put up with heavy grinding, or accept the fact that you will be playing over and over again with the same team of cats, through the same scenery.
Naughty Kitties is, without a doubt, a fun blend of cartoon-ish characters, tower defense and a side-scrolling space shooter, but the heavy grinding affect the replay value in a bad way. Besides, the gameplay is basically the same through the levels – replace kittens, fix the ship, blast the power button.
The incoming waves of enemies look pretty much the same; so do the environments, with exception of the background image, which changes from time to time. All that adds to the monotony of gaming, which eventually dissolves the feeling of novelty and the will to grind for the sake of unlocking characters and ships.
The design is cartoon-styled and wonderfully delightful in everything from cats to spaceships, weapons and the UI. I loved how every furry character is unique in race, weapon type or special skill while the specific feline sounds accompany their actions.
The game is beautiful and looks like a candy, especially to children and kids. At the same time, the lack of variety in the incoming enemy types feels like a nag at times, as much as the overly similar backgrounds. Coupled with the repetitive gameplay and the hardcore grinding to unlock new cats, this bites off the fun part.
- Fun, addicting gameplay
- Beautiful design
- Cute protagonists that come in great variety
- Several unlockable ships and gadgets
- Power-ups and upgrades
- Good sound score
- A fun blend of endless runner, space shooter and tower defense genres
- UI easy to sort out
- Fast-paced strategy action
- Heavy grinding to unlock new cats or ships
- Expensive IAPs
- Restricting life meter
- Mediocre replay value
Naughty Kitties is a good game for casual gameplay, when you have 10-15 minutes to spend playing once in a while. That way, you are likely to miss out on the downside of grinding and the restricting life meter. The game is beautifully designed, but if you play too often, you might get bored with playing with the same characters and the same ship, unless you buy the new ones, or accept the necessity of grinding. All things considered, it is a charming, fun and interesting game if you don’t mind those little nags.