LaserCat---XBOX-360-Indie-review LaserCat - XBOX 360 Indie review

   08/05/2011 at 11:58       Joe Bennett       17 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - LaserCat, Whiskers, XBOX 360, Indie, Platformer

If you're like me, you may find the Indie store a little demotivating at times. Sure it has had its fair share of genuinely entertaining titles (Miner Dig Deep, Apple Jack, AvaGlide and I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 to name just four of its more obvious choices) but still, after all this time and after numerous (mostly dissappointing) demos downloaded, countless massage games and downright terrible Avatar game, it's still yet to find its killer app. And while I'm not in the fortunate position to say that LaserCat is that game, that defining moment for the Indie store, it sure comes a lot closer than most and can hold its own with the four titles mentioned above.

Even though I knew it wasn't, having grown up with the 8-bit era, I felt like I was playing an 8-bit classic on an emulator while playing my way through LaserCat. And that's certainly not a bad thing. It felt nostalgic. It reminded me of the days when only gameplay mattered. Its humour wasn't trying too hard to be clever, instead it relied on innocent cheap gags and knowing nods at an era now passed but feeling very much like the present. It had that feel of a game that had been lovingly coded by one person in his bedroom for a few weeks, released on a cassette for £1.99 and picked up from your local corner shop's rotating rickety metal display stand. And I loved it for it.

How can you not love a game called LaserCat where the cat in question doesn't have a Laser, is out to rescue his owlfriend who has been owlnapped and imprisoned by the evil space-frog, Wizzord? The only way to save him, is to traverse 225 rooms of mental, glorious, 8-bit themed platforming goodness, filled with rotating blocks of randomness, devils that look a bit like buddhas, and squiggles. But even if you find Owl you won't be able to set him free until you have collected all of the 30 keys dotted around the game. And collecting keys isn't as simple as 'collecting' them, oh no. Once you collect one you're taken to the Riddle Realm. Here you're asked a humourous trivia question and get to choose from three possible answers. One gets you the key, the other two drop you into lava and make you go back to a checkpoint. You just couldn't make this up. Except obviously someone has. And you just don't get games like this anymore. Except obviously you do.

If there's one genre the Indie store excels at delivering it is platformers. Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp (and Johnny Platform Saves Xmas), the Arkedo Series, Oozi, and the aforementioned Apple Jack, are all genuinely enjoyable games. But despite the decent competition, in my opinion LaserCat sits at the top of that genre's league table. Purring contently.

Whereas Apple Jack is undeniably a great game, it suffers from imprecise controls. Oozi plays like an enjoyable Amiga title, but again suffers from similar control issues. Johnny Platform has tighter controls, but perhaps just lacks that little something to make it all that memorable or to drive you on to completion. Whereas LaserCat doesn't suffer from these issues.

The controls are incredibly precise and responsive. The level design so memorable that even after playing my way through 225 rooms (and it having been 72 hours since I played the game) I can still remember a number of them vividly now. The music compliments the action and the awful visuals add to the charm rather than detract from the experience. And although it's not all that challenging, even that turns out to be a good thing, enabling you to enjoy the ride rather than getting frustrated at yet another pixel-perfect jump.

In fact, LaserCat's only failing for me was how quickly it was over. After about 70 minutes, it was completed, all rooms navigated and the owl saved (oh no! Spoiler!). And at 70 minutes of pure fun for approx 60p, can anyone really complain? If I ever come across anything else in life that gives me as much enjoyment and fun over 70 minutes for 60p as LaserCat did, I will be a happy man. And when a game's only real failing is that it has left you wanting more, has it really failed?

Stars
User Comments:

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peej - on 09/05/2011 at 08:35 wrote:
 
Good stuff, some of the indie channel games are getting better lately and seem to be falling into line with the sort of slick production and better visuals you're starting to see on the iTunes app store for comparison.

I'll check this out. Would also heartily recommend that toy motocross game from the recent crop of indie releases. It's a bit like a cut down (but competent) version of Trials HD spliced with Micro Machines. Again very good and again like Laser Cat, not exactly the longest game in the world but can't knock it for the price.
 

Kay - on 09/05/2011 at 15:48 wrote:
 
This was developed by an EG reg, I believe.

To this day I haven't bought a single indie game, but there's certainly a lot of interesting stuff on there that I've been meaning to check out.
 

peej - on 09/05/2011 at 16:00 wrote:
 
I've only bought 3 indie titles and I've been well and truly picky as hell about 'em. FortressCraft was worth it purely for the mindless joy of constructing virtual worlds out of a random bunch of blocks. The Trials HD clone I bought because I thought it had more content than it actually did. The other was some space combat game I covered for here and couldn't get a promo code for so dropped the 80 points on it just to give the poor sod who built it a bit of coverage as it was quite nicely done.

In general though, most indie titles seem to have a shelf life shorter than their demos, which is a damned shame.
 

Kay - on 09/05/2011 at 17:48 wrote:
 
Actually, some sort of "top 10 indie games" article would be very handy. ;)
 

peej - on 09/05/2011 at 17:48 wrote:
 
Aye I'd love to read it. I constantly check out what the 'IGN picks' are etc, but they don't seem to change that often. And you can't really go by what's supposedly selling best either...

 

kentmonkey - on 09/05/2011 at 20:07 wrote:
 
I can do a Top 10 of Indie games. I've had quite a few as review code or bought myself.

This game was made by dudefather on EG. And he's (well, his game) had great feedback on the forum as well.
 

peej - on 10/05/2011 at 08:27 wrote:
 
Does he know it got reviewed here?

It'd be great if you could do a top ten rundown. It's an area where AATG tends to be a bit lacking, mainly because we tend to review stuff we buy and I don't know that many AATGers other than yourself who regularly dip into the indie channel pot.

So go for it, it'd be an ace read.

 

TheBoy - on 10/05/2011 at 09:50 wrote:
 
I'd definitely like to see a top 10 run down of Indie games. As your reviews of AvaGlide and LaserCat shows, there's some decent stuff available for little investment so it would be nice to bring a few others to light.
 

Kay - on 10/05/2011 at 11:59 wrote:
 
Ooh, I was after a big-screen Pilotwings, and Avaglide looks like it'll fit the bill nicely. Excellent.

Edit: See, this is why we need some sort of top ten feature, games like that need more recognition. :)
 

evilashchris - on 10/05/2011 at 13:45 wrote:
 
CTHULHU SAVES THE WORLD!

You better all have bought that one. I mean it.
 

kentmonkey - on 10/05/2011 at 18:39 wrote:
 
I'm on it. Give me a couple of weeks as I need to buy a few that I don't have that are highly rated and play them in order to do it justice.

But a Top 10 ye shall have.
 

evilashchris - on 13/05/2011 at 09:31 wrote:
 
Picked this up yesterday, lovely game, cheers for the review Joe :)
 

TheBoy - on 14/05/2011 at 20:10 wrote:
 
The more I play this, the more I think it would work pretty well on the iPhone too.
 

kentmonkey - on 15/05/2011 at 17:34 wrote:
 
Yeah, it would. TheBoy, did you get it before the review or after?
 

TheBoy - on 15/05/2011 at 20:10 wrote:
 
After your Review KM. I wouldn't have even heard about it if you hadn't brought it to my attention, so cheers again for that :)
 

kentmonkey - on 15/05/2011 at 21:10 wrote:
 
That's good news then! It's nice to know that a title deserving of sales has got a couple more off of the back of a few words from me.
 

Trip SkyWay - on 06/02/2012 at 04:31 wrote:
 
Really liked this. The Riddle Realm was excellent at breaking things up, and death for giving wrong answer added some tension.

Personally I found it just the right length, as I have no time for big games any more.
 


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