The Nintendo Switch has an impressively large library of games, considering it’s only been on sale for two years. However, as you dive into the e-Shop and poke around, you’ll notice that there are easily over a thousand direct ports of mobile phone and tablet games. Developers and publishers are aware that the device has replaced a lot of people’s mobile phones when it comes to casual gaming. One such title which I’ve been taking a look at this week is Captain Cat from developer Digital Tentacle and publisher Hidden Trap.
As the Switch is the perfect go-to console for easy to pick-up-and-play titles on the go, or when you only have a few minutes to spare, I’m quite fond of smaller titles which allow you to jump in for a few minutes at a time. This game is purrfect for this purrpose as I’ve been diving into it whilst my food is cooking, a game is downloading on my PS4, and when adverts were playing in between the shows I was watching on TV.
The question is, is it worth the asking price of £6.29 and just how much fun can a game about a seaworthy feline be? Let’s find out…
We don’t need a story with a game like this, and in reality, we don’t really get one – however, the store page does give us a bit of insight. Captain Cat, our titular protagonist, travels the seven seas in his little boat in search of treasures and delicious fishies! The fish have been pranking the other fishing boats before us by shoving old pots and worthless junk onto the fishermen’s/fishercat’s hooks. Unfortunately, the fish aren’t aware of the unusual way our protagonist likes to fish, we use our ship’s anchor as a hook as we send it down to the ocean floor in hopes of hooking us a tasty treat!
That’s pretty much the only backstory we get and to be honest, it’s all the exposition you’ll need. This is a simple game which utilises the grand total of one button outside of moving your ship left or right. In terms of gameplay, it’s so straightforward literally anyone can pick it up and begin playing within seconds, regardless of their age or skill level in terms of gaming.
The gist of the game is this: first, you position your ship along the top of the surface, then you drop the anchor into the water and watch as the anchor sways from left to right. Once the anchor is pointing the direction you want it to move in, you hold down the single button and watch it move, releasing your finger when you want it to stop and letting it sway again. Rinse and repeat until you hook the fish and watch the line quickly return to your ship. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is at first, but then hazards and new mechanics are thrown into the mix which forces you to rethink how to go about catching your prize plaice.
There are three game modes in Captain Cat, the main Episodes and both a ‘Perfect’ and ‘Infinite’ mode. These vary slightly in terms of their gameplay…
These are the main ‘meat’ of the game, consisting of two chapters which contain twenty-five levels in each. These all follow the above mechanics of positioning then lowering your anchor whilst also trying to collect all of the coins which are scattered between your boat and the trout-like target. As you progress further into the game, you’ll also have to adapt to new hazards such as avoiding Jellyfish, picking up a tool which allows you to drill through walls and using oceanic pathways in order to move your anchor up and down. You’ll also have to utilise mysterious portals which teleport your anchor to various new locations in the fishing zone.
As this was essentially a mobile device game (although I can’t see it on sale anymore), the game adapts the three-star method which I’ve expressed my dislike to in the past. However, the only thing locked behind a wall of obtaining a certain number of stars is chapter two, and I managed to get enough to unlock it without any issues. Stars are rewarded for three things, Coins, Efficiency and Speed. You get one star for picking up all the coins in the level before hooking your haddock, one for using less than the set amount of ‘turns’ and one for completing the level in under a set time. A ‘turn’ is basically you pressing and letting go of the A button – so try to be as efficient as you can and aim accurately.
Although later levels do get quite tricky, especially if you’re going for all three stars, it’s not actually a very hard game – just a little frustrating. Thankfully, the stars can be stacked – so you can rush through a level to get the speed star and then replay it in order to get the coin and/or efficiency star and they will be added to the one you already have. This isn’t like Assassin’s Creed III where you had to earn everything in a single run!
This mode is very different from the main Episodes. We once again have twenty-five levels to play through but they only have one star each – efficiency/accuracy. As you can probably guess by the title – just like Eminem – you only get one shot (one push of the A button) after dropping anchor to grab the goldfish and pull it back to your boat. It starts very easy, with the fish directly below you, but then it evolves into levels with hazards and requiring you to shoot at an angle in order to hit your target with no mistakes.
Have a guess at what you think this mode is… If you guessed that it’s a battle royale mode where you and other players online all play against each other in hopes of becoming the meanest Pirate Pussy on the seven seas, then I’m afraid you’re wrong. This mode has no stars, no coins, no timer, nothing. It’s an endless vertical drop in which you have to see how far you can make it before you crash into a rock or hit an enemy fish. There are no online or local leaderboards, which I thought was a strange omission, so you can’t challenge your friends unless you take note of how far you got via a screenshot or by writing it down (if your memory is as good as a goldfish). However, this mode is good if you wish to have a bit of practice or just want to do something for a few minutes.
Graphically, I really like the art style of Captain Cat. Everything is very cartoony and light-hearted. As a result of this, the game is very colourful and comedic. The audio is also rather ‘unique’ as not only is it very upbeat and jolly, as you try and reserve your next lunch, but the title music is literally someone acting like a cat as they ‘sing’ along to the music. Have you have heard of Jingle Cats? It’s a little like that.
My only complaint with the game is its adaptation to the Switch. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks fine, it performs perfectly and the sound isn’t compressed or an issue – it’s the controls. I’m not going to moan about the fact you only use one button to play the game as that’s fine, why complicate something so simple? I’m a bit confused as to why portable mode doesn’t utilise the touchscreen. Sure, it’s a single button on the Joycon but when I’m playing in portable mode I always get the urge to just tap the screen on mobile ports as they were originally designed with touch devices in mind. However, all you get from touching the screen whilst playing Captain Cat is fingerprints on your screen…
If you’re looking for a simple puzzle game which you can pick up and play whenever and wherever you want, Captain Cat has you covered. Between all three modes, there’s a decent amount of content for you to work through if you’re aiming to collect all of the stars. I’m confused and a bit disappointed that there are no leaderboards for the Infinite mode – either online or local ones – but I’m happy that the three-star progression system the Episodes utilises is very relaxed and doesn’t stop progression for those having difficulty with certain levels.
The question I asked at the beginning was is it worth £6.29 – I personally believe it is, especially if you’re picking it up on the Switch. Sure, the mobile version of Captain Cat was probably cheaper when it was still available for purrchace, but seeing as it’s no longer on sale on either the Android or Apple store, it seems the only place you can pick it up now is on the Switch and Xbox. Seriously though, if you’re looking for a small game which will have you hooked due to its addictive nature and simplistic gameplay, then check out Captin Cat today.
- - Simplistic mechanics which anyone can pick up and play
- - Levels get progressively more difficult as the game introduces new hazards
- - Cute and upbeat music which helps when you inevitably fail over and over on later levels
- - Three game modes to play
- - Very bright and colourful
- - In portable mode, there's no use of the touch screen
- - No local or online leaderboards for the Infinite mode