Not unlike the game itself, I‘m going to get straight to the action of what Scram Kitty and his Buddys on Rails is all about…and without remorse. It is a heinously difficult game that has you blasting at evil alien mice from the walls of a space ship. The primary goal is to save adorable little kitties in equally adorable space helmets. Along the way you’ll encounter mouse-aliens, traps, turrets, more traps, walls that do horrible unspeakable things to you without consent, even more traps, coffee breaks, cool weapons, spiky ball things, and swear words that would make your grandmother cry. I had put it down and yell at my GamePad a couple of times (It’s okay GamePad, I still love you). Oh, did I mention there art traps?
Scram Kitty can be broken down into two parts. The first part is the part where you are alive. During these times you spend most of your time in the Adventure and Challenge modes. Adventure mode sets you out on a chain of missions to do one thing and one thing alone: rescue all of your kitty friends! The catch here though is that it is really difficult. Each mission has a set of objectives and once complee each objective rewards you with a new kitty to add to your collection. The simplest of these is to just beat the level, but on the opposite end of the spectrum there is a horrible monstrous cat that will have you chasing it back and forth across a lair of spikes and fire that are on a timer. Only after you catch it a few times will it finally submit and wait for you at the goal. Other objectives include collecting all of the yellow “orb-coin things” or beating the big bad guy hidden in the stage. Progression in the adventure mode is propelled by how many cats you’ve managed to collect. Numbered doors will block your path until the designated number of feline friends has been bagged.
Challenge mode is structured a little differently. Imagine playing the adventure mode, only now everything is timed! Oh, did I mention that now it’s even harder! Collectables are all in the same places that they were in adventure mode. The “yellow orb-coin things” (I really don’t know what they are called) each grant one extra second to the timer, and where extra armor used to be resides a much bigger lump of time. All of the savable cats are still in their places too and they will grant bonus points at the end of each level. At its core, Challenge mode is a sort of arcade style gameplay that has you aiming to get greater and greater scores each time you play. You are ranked on items collected and time of completion.
The combat in both the adventure and challenge modes is simple enough and it’s the game’s greatest hook and also its greatest flaw. You move along rails and are only capable of shooting straight forward. This means that in order to fire at enemies coming at you from an angle you either need to ignore your survival instincts and move straight into their line of fire or run away and find a place where the wall bends. This restriction will often times cause needless complication. Enemies will swarm you at all different angles, making it near impossible to avoid getting hit. On the upside, you aren’t completely glued down. You can jump off the rail at any point, and will be pulled back in by a gravitational effect. In addition to your standard jump, there is a sort of super jump that turns you into a big ball of fire. This is used in many places to break through barriers and can be used to kill baddies. Jumping also allows for you to switch to any adjacent track in range. Many missions feature weapon upgrades, such as giant purple laser beams. Cats in space need lasers after all.
The second major part of the Scram Kitty is where you are dead. This includes all of the times in between your attempts at adventure and challenge modes. It is advised that during this period of your gameplay you refrain from throwing your Gamepad at Mrs. Paws, the British Longhair that your sister rescued from the shelter down the road. It isn’t her fault. Instead, recommended activities include listening to the cool electronic music and viewing the wonderful pixilated artwork that make up each and every level of the game. Or, one could go outside in search for a friendly dog, which are not featured at all in Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails…but seriously, you’ll need breaks. The difficulty level is absurd and it will more than likely take even the most seasoned of gamers a number of days to get a grasp on what this gameplay is all about. That said, what it does it does well and it pulls absolutely no punches.
As I sit hear wondering how to wrap up this review, a definite thought crosses my mind. If you want to have a lovely gaming experience where you get fluffy kitties for free, plug Animal Crossing back into your 3DS; however, If you want to yell, spit, grow chest hair and really EARN your fluffy kitties, buy Scram Kitty and His Rail Buddies, as the game is surprisingly addictive as it is rage inducing and fun all at the same time.