Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender Review—Pump It
I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of cats. They always seemed like persnickety little jerks that turned their noses up at you. How true that is is something I don’t plan on finding out. The kitties in Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender, however, are down-to-Earth, real cool cats. A bunch of hardworking milk miners such that if one did pee in your fireplace, it would be because he had a cold one too many at the bar.
Developed by Tikipod, the game tells the tale of a group of brave kitties on a voyage to farm milk due to a milk shortage. Their job becomes a very difficult one when they are attacked by evil mechanical fishies. It is your job to pilot your advanced kitty sub and protect the milk miners. The game is a 2D horizontal shooter that scrolls infinitely in either direction. There are also some tower defense elements thrown in with the kitty miners. If the mechanical fishies manage to take all of your mining companions, it’s game over. Being aware of everything at all times is key as you survive the enemy waves, but Tikipod has not made this an easy task.
Aqua Kitty has a heart-based health system similar to the one seen in the Zelda games. You start out with three hearts, and as the game progresses, your health permanently increases to a maximum of five hearts. With a variety of enemy types stretching across 22 levels, you’ll quickly find yourself heartless. Not only have they taken it back old school with the sound and visuals, but with the difficulty, too. Personally, I find that to be refreshing. They do help you make things a little easier with your rapid fire secondary weapon. It can only be fired for a brief period and needs to recharged before you can use it again. The duration of its use increases with progression like your health.
Aqua Kitty also throws you a few power-ups to work with, three to be exact. Health, bomb, and partner kitties. What you get is random, but it is in your best interest to grab power-ups whenever you can. Health restores one heart, making it the most precious power-up. Bombs will do big damage, taking out whatever is on screen. Partner kitties comprise two kitty companions aiding you for a brief period of time.
Featuring gorgeous 16-bit-style graphics in eyeball-punching 720p, Aqua Kitty is just beautiful on the Vita’s 5” OLED screen. I really appreciate the little details Tikipod put into the game’s visuals. The waves rippling. Bubbles constantly streaming from your sub. Your guns recoiling as you fire them. The mining equipment even stops pumping if one of your kitty miners is taken. Small things like that add up to become really impressive. Not only is the game visually stunning, it sounds delicious. The old-school-inspired chiptune soundtrack is just terrific. Electric Cafe really put their best foot forward with it. The gunfire makes that cool PEW PEW sound, and it just breaks your heart to hear the sound your kitty pilot makes when his kitty sub is blown up. The game controls as wonderfully as it looks and sounds. There is no delay between inputs and onscreen actions.
Even though Aqua Kitty is a technically impressive game, it doesn’t feature online leaderboards. That may prove to be a real disappointment for some people. Without the leaderboards, replayability takes a hit. The game keeps track of personal high scores, but unless you’re the type that loves to keep beating your own scores, you won’t have much reason to return to the game once you have completed all the levels. You do unlock an infinite mode early in the game, but again, it’s just you vs. your high score.
Aqua Kitty was one of the standout launch titles for PlayStation Mobile, and it turned out to be one of the best games on the platform to date. It really changed my opinion on cats. I still don’t want one, but at least I don’t think they are all persnickety jerks anymore.