Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails (Wii U eShop) Review

Review for Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails on Wii U eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

One of the biggest highlights from the Eurogamer Expo 2013 was without a doubt Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails, which totally caught the team off guard. Sure, rumblings had been heard, but not knowing much about it and seeing a name that brought back traumatic memories of Bruiser and Scratch, it was approached with trepidation. The resultant hands-on report, though, showed how much it wowed after just a short play time! Now to try the final version...

Remember Ikaruga on the GameCube? After just a short time with Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails it immediately seemed reminiscent of Treasure's classic, which itself offered a dual attack approach. Okay, Dakko Dakko's Wii U eShop game is not a vertical shooter (and turning TVs on their side offers no real benefit…), but the intensity of its action and the ability to flick quickly at will between blasting enemies using laser beams or a powerful jump 'n' spin ability really brought fond memories flooding back. It really is a testament to Dakko Dakko's design how well this holds up when compared to such a magnificent shmup.

This is not merely a 'fly all over, blasting like mad' title, as there is the added twist of gravitational pull mixed in, making for some crazy leaps and treacherous arcs through space before landing on the next nearest rail. Players take control of a little cat in a pod that rolls back and forth around maze-like rails in an effort to rescue fellow felines from nefarious mice (yes, the ultimate role reversal!). Craftily built locales filled with death-traps, one-way passageways, breakable barriers and more await and progression through the game relies on the number of cats saved in each zone. Not every single one needs to be regained straight away as there is leniency in the pathway to the end of the game, but getting as many as possible early on opens the door to more options further down the line. Some may merely want to push on as far as possible with the minimum number of kitties in tow, opting to go all the way back and play through again to garner more, and having that choice is appealing. However, purists will hit each stage repeatedly to acquire all cats before opening the next numbered doorway on the central hub.

Screenshot for Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails on Wii U eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

'Collect all the coins on a stage' - one of the methods of saving a kitty - sounds easy enough, but given how complicated the way some areas are laid out, leaping from platform to platform (some of which are moving or even almost out of camera view for those 'leap of faith' moments) takes considerable levels of concentration and twitch-like reactions, especially when being pelted by an onslaught weapon-fire. This is no easy ride by any means, and Scram Kitty thrives on a combination of high difficulty and a craving for just one more go. Trying to fathom the best way to despatch a barrage of space vermin coming from all angles whilst only being able to shoot perpendicular to the rail currently attached to will boggle the mind at the beginning, but once adapting to the 'slide-jump-shoot' pattern to swiftly reach bends along a track to change the trajectory of return fire, smash through spiked barriers to reach new sections, and unlock other weaponry, what unfolds is simply majestic, and will having older shmup fans writhing with glee, albeit with sore thumbs from the frantic movement when using the D-Pad.

Other ways of catching the cats? Well, defeat a mouse commander who seriously does not want to give up; simply reach the end of a level (easier said than done); or play touch-and-chase, whereby a timer appears upon reaching one of the cats and then off it bounces to somewhere else, thus triggering the chase. This last one again sounds like quite a rudimentary task, yet against the clock, and with stages needing to be not only memorised but near enough perfected, these are possibly the cats to grab once all others have been collected for fear of throwing the GamePad out of the nearest window in frustration (in a positive way, of course!).

Screenshot for Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails on Wii U eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Rid areas of space mice by jumping and smashing them or shooting at them perpendicularly to the current position along the rails; the mix of attack techniques makes for some fast and frenetic gameplay as both are fundamental elements for clearing stages, and working out the perfect combination is imperative. Throw in other weapon types and tricky-as-hell gravitational pull aspects when leaping from platform to platform and this tough-as-nails experience proves to be as ridiculously satisfying as it is 'hair-pullingly' frustrating.

Graphics

Cute and very colourful throughout, the artistic style - whilst not enhancing the experience - manages to be both easy on the eyes and, thankfully, not so pretty as to distract from the hectic blasting constantly going on and high levels of focus required to become a Scram Kitty master.

Sound

Sadly the music becomes somewhat of a non-entity for the most part, not proving specifically poor as such, just paling into the background as concentration levels must remain so high to successfully navigate stages. Sound effects are satisfyingly bold and impactful, though!

Value

After the initial few stages, which only have one or two kitties to save, suddenly things ramp up to four per level, each of which are increasingly tough to locate - and 'tough' is a probably a massive understatement. Brace for one of the hardest, but most satisfying shooters of the past two decades, and that is before even venturing into the Challenge mode!

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Treasure-like in its level of sheer ingenuity, Dakko Dakko's Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails is the sort of addictive shooter that is a must-own for Wii U owners and belies its initially brief appearance in the length stakes. Not exactly short to start with - thanks to the difficulty stakes - it is the draw of coming back to better times in the Challenge mode or uncovering every hidden kitty on each stage that brings considerable added value to what is already a bargain at just £8.99 / €9.99.

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14.05.2014

5

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Developer

Dakko Dakko

Publisher

Dakko Dakko

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Really intrigued by this game in particular - have seen lots of great footage, and it sounds top notch, so will give it a go at some point definitely!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

If you like intense shmup style games you'll love it. Bit of platform twitch reactions needed as well. Those touch-and-chase objectives drove me round the bend! But damn addictive.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Goddess (guest) 26.05.2014 15:26#3

Sounds so tough! I like a good challenge, though Smilie Odd name, though...

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

There's an explanation about why it's called 'Scram Kitty' and it's something to do with a Welsh term, I believe. The team also thought it would be interesting to name it not after the actual hero of the game ('Buddy on Rails').

Who else has tried this now? Seems to be doing well on the UK eShop chart so far!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Scram = Scratch in Welsh, so an apt title indeed!

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
...Upupu.
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