Xbox Indie Games Review: Aqua Kitty
"When the milk ran dry, cats desperately sought out a new source. Then deep under the ocean, vast amounts of what appeared to be naturally forming full fat milk were discovered. A hazardous extraction followed. The Milk Must Flow!" I was not expecting a Dune reference in Tikipod's adorable retro arcade shooter, Aqua Kitty. Nor was I expecting to have as much fun playing Aqua Kitty, as I did.
In Aqua Kitty, you play as a patch wearing cat submarine pilot, only a few days from retirement(okay, I made up that last part). Your job? Defend the Milk Mining Machines, and its' accompanying Cat Miner, from various evil robot fish who are hell bent on preventing you from mining the precious milk. Which happens to be located deep within the ocean's core. The entire game is broken up into five locations: Buttermilk Bay, Creamy Cove, Mouldy Depths, The Curdling Gulf, and the final location, Infinite Espresso. Each location has somewhere between 4 to 7 "missions." Each mission consists of a certain number of enemy waves you must survive, in order to move forward. The game ratchets up the difficulty by adding more milk mining machines, and cat miners for you to defend. As well as introducing new enemy types as you progress in missions. Defend all the locations, and you win the game(milk for all!) Not all the missions are available at the start, but as you select a mission, and "win," more will open up. Subsequently, this is how you open up more of the map as well.
Obviously with a game called, Aqua Kitty, the enemy fish you encounter are going to have amusing names, such as: Puffaboom, Goldfishy, and Paleofish; How do you come to know all this? It's all thanks to a headphone wearing cat with a fishing poll, that has a worm with a camera that snaps photos of each enemy fish(This game has charm in spades). These photos appear at the start of each mission, giving you an idea of what to expect and how to plan accordingly. For example, the above mentioned Puffaboom, explodes when killed. Thankfully your sub is immune to explosions. Therefore, you can use said explosion's blast to damage other enemy fish. Your sub will however still take damage from enemy fire, and if you happen to come into direct contact with an enemy. Pressing "RB" or "LB" will rotate your sub, helping you engage the enemy, who come from both sides of the screen. The "A" button fires your sub's standard blaster which has low power, but average range. If you prefer not to hold down the A button, you can turn on the "auto fire" located in the Options menu. This fires the blaster continuously without having to hold the button down. With auto fire "on" you can focus your attention towards your Special Weapon(s), which is mapped to the "B" button. To prevent you from being too overpowered, your special weapons/power-ups can only be used for a short amount of time before they have to "recharge." At the beginning of the game your special weapon is the "Turbo Fire"(a more powerful triple shot version of your standard blaster). As you progress you'll unlock other weapons and allies to aid you in defending the milk mining machines, and especially their cat miners. Who, while seemingly impervious to enemy fire, can be dragged away by Robot Jellyfish(this results in a cute, albeit terrified, "meow"). If you don't destroy the jellyfish in time, you'll lose the miner, and more importantly, the mining machine.
Besides the various arsenal at your fingertips. Aqua Kitty employs a fantastic mini-map located at the top of the screen. What makes this map so useful? It's not just the fact that it shows what wave you're on, nor how many enemies are left on screen. It's the fact that it highlights each enemy's location on the map as a colored dot, that makes it invaluable. This map comes in handy both in solo play, and in 2 player Co-op, which unfortunately is only available locally. It also helps with chaining your attacks. Next to your health gauge, and special weapons meter, is your chain attack number that increases as you kill enemies consecutively, but slowly drops if you leave too much time between killing enemies. The higher the chain number, the higher the bonus you get at the end of the mission. High scores are an important aspect in arcade shooters; Aqua Kitty is no different.
Aqua Kitty oozes charming old-school gaming aesthetics. A cute sense of humor. Solid gameplay with surprising strategies, and fun chip-tune music(unlock more tracks as you progress in the game). If you're a fan of retro arcade shooters, then Aqua Kitty is worth your time.