A sequel to developer Tikipod Ltd.’s Aqua Kitty, this game follows a group of kitty cats into outer space. They’re looking for milk after running out of it back home and for some reason, there is milk to be found on asteroids! These are badass cats because cow milk gives a cat terrible indigestion, but they don’t care. It’s delicious and they needs it, well at least I assume as the story is a bit barebones and simply there to serve as a vehicle for some surprisingly difficult, deep and fun bullet hell madness. This is our review of Astro Aqua Kitty which releases Friday, June 4th on Xbox.
To the Meowsteroids!
Your first decision will come down to your two-member crew as each offers up a nicely varied amount of weaponry and ship options that greatly affect each run through the game’s 8 levels. I beat the game in roughly 6 hours according to the game itself, though my Xbox played time shows closer to 10. This variety adds a large amount of replayability to this budget title (it is $15 at the time of release). Solid sprite-based graphics, purrfect controls, excellent meowsic, and a wide build variety are matched by a solid difficulty curve and satisfying leveling system. Let’s look at the graphics first.
Cats are adorable, and this game leans into it hard with its character designs. During cutscenes, a static drawing shows up on each side of the screen and the writing never wore out its welcome for me. Purposely cringe at times, and occasional funny I found myself reading it all and rarely ever skipping through it the first time through. I did die quite often in some of the later areas of the game, and thankfully the load times are instant on the Xbox Series consoles. This is a modern sprite-based title, and it takes full advantage of how unbelievably fast the SSD in these new consoles are. Graphics are crisp, clean, and that is key in how chaotic the fights can get.
Pawsitively Furmidable Clawmbat
The heart of the game is combat, and it’s a furmidable system that will have you crying out “You gotta be kitten me” time and time again on the higher difficulties. You have two attacks and four equipment slots. As you level you will unlock multiple passive and active abilities as well which are mapped to the X, Y, and RB buttons. Left Trigger brings you to the Map, Skills, and Inventory screens. Right Trigger is used to activate switches and save points in the world. Save points are key as there are no checkpoints during the increasingly long and difficult levels. Every time you use one you’ll heal to full and get all your cooldowns and energy back.
The energy system is tied to your weaponry, so you’ll want to keep one weapon that uses a very small amount of energy paired with one that does more damage but burns through energy quickly. There are a wide array of weapons, skills, and equipment that are tied to the various crew members, and experimenting with them is something I’m looking forward to doing for a long time after seeing the game’s credits.
Enemy variety is solid with a wide variety of strange creatures who either swim freely or are tied to the surface of the game’s various biomes. Enemies fire a variety of different shaped projectile and laser beams at your tiny sub, and thanks to paw-some handling things rarely felt cheap. There is a strict leveling system, and as you gain said levels for your submarine you will need to constantly upgrade your gear with the game’s currency (Gems) or by finding them through killing enemies. When my sub was level 15, but my main gun was 11 it felt like a pea-shooter until I was able to find something I liked that matched my level.
Death is never a cat-astrophe though as you will instantly load back to your last save to get right back into the action. There are times where I hadn’t saved for 10 minutes and then died in a few hits which weren’t that enjoyable, but that was rare as save points are provided often.
A Purr-ty Great Soundtrack & A Few Meowner Quibbles
Composers Mark Day and Cody Carpenter have put together a fantastic soundtrack. Each level has its own song and they’re all bangers. From the first levels Caribbean inspired rhythm to the pulse-pounding later levels there isn’t a bad song on the docket. Sound effects are rather basic in comparison, but they get the job done without being distracting.
One issue I’ve had, and we’ve reached out to the developers, is that whenever I defeated a boss on my Xbox Series X the game would stutter for 5 to 30 seconds. This occurred both while recording the gameplay for this review and when I wasn’t recording. Hopefully, this will be rectified by or shortly after release if it is indeed widespread. Another issue was in a later level that had a mechanic that wasn’t clearly explained. I ended up wasting an hour searching around for what to do when the answer was right in front of me the whole time.
This is an excellent video game and it’s $15. I have had a blast with my time so far thanks to its tight controls and great difficulty curve. If you like 2D bullet hell shooters with an absolutely ridiculous premise, tons of charm, clean graphics, and phenomenal music, this game should be right up your alley….. cat
*Code Provided By The Developers. Game Reviews On Xbox Series X*