By: Casey Curran
I used to play a lot of flash games back when I was a kid. They were cheap and easy to access as opposed to buying a console with its own expensive game library. However, looking back on them, most were not very good, just there for an easy gaming fix. Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails feels like one of those flash games I would quickly give up on. And by playing a lot of it, I cannot help but feel justified in giving up on those games as a child.
The best comparison to Scram Kitty in terms of controls would be VVVVV with a few extra bells and whistles, but even that doesn’t give the most accurate description. The game is based around an abnormal sense of gravity where you will stick to walls, ceilings and any side of a platform. The game lacks straight edges; everything is rounded to give a gradual transition to all of these.
Despite the controls being responsive enough, this approach does present its fair share of issues. There is a large emphasis on giving a bounce jump, which is performed by holding the jump button in mid-air. When performed at an angle, however, it is incredibly hard to know where you are going to bounce to, making precision very difficult.
Shooting also presents its own fair share of issues due to this approach. You can only shoot directly in front of you, which limits how you can attack enemies to the area you are confined in. These potentially could not be issues, but the way the levels are designed makes them serious flaws in the gameplay, making it very hard to complete missions.
There is nothing above or below average in regards to Scram Kitty’s look, music and sound effects. The sound effects are forgettable and never make the game feel any more addicting while music is not annoying, but it’s nothing memorable, either. The look is similar to Chu Chu Rocket, yet the style and sound do nothing to give the game that same charm. A month from now, I’m certain I will have no recollection as to what this game looked or sounded like.
Scram Kitty is very simple: find cats in astronaut helmets, return them to the level’s objective, and reach that objective with as many saved cats as you can. The more cats you save, the more levels you can unlock. This, however, creates an issue because there is a little too much of an emphasis placed on finding the cats. In Super Mario 3D World, for instance, the green stars play a similar role, yet you can still play through the majority of the game just by finishing a level. The stars only exist to unlock the final stages.
Here, the side objectives consist of the core gameplay rather than complement it. These cats can usually be rescued by clearing an area of enemies or catching the cat every time it bounces to a new area. The shooting sections’ problems have already been addressed: Aiming is too limited. This is not helped by how enemies tend to have annoying attack patterns based around getting exactly where you cannot show up, making combat very frustrating. This could be helped if the bounce move (which can destroy enemies) controlled well, but it does not.
Which brings me to the next objective: Catching the cats. These present a limited amount of time to find the cat, usually way too limited of a time. These objectives would be fine in a challenge mode, but as a borderline requirement to unlock the next level, they prove to be incredibly frustrating. They also require precision on top of getting to the cat with no time to spare, and as the bouncing mechanic’s controls do not offer enough precision, these objectives are more frustrating than fun. Oh, and there are usually a string of areas where you have to get to the cat next, where just finding what way you need to go is half the battle.
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails is the kind of game where challenge is emphasized over fun. This creates a scenario where the game only serves to frustrate rather than provide an enjoyable experience. Add in counter-intuitive controls, and there is very little reason for to recommend it.