Sunday, 16 June 2013

REVIEW - Aqua Kitty- Milk Mine Defender (Xbox Indie / PS Vita)

Got Milk?

There is nothing worse than running out of milk. We have all been there. First thing in the morning, you stagger into the kitchen and sleepily pour yourself a bowl of cereal and put the kettle on, only to discover moments later that you have run out of milk. Disaster! I guess there is always the option of a cereal bar or black coffee though. Poor old cats don't have that luxury. So imagine their abject horror upon discovering that the entire world supply of milk has been depleted – vanished – gone! It makes one wonder what happened to all the cows – or even goats (yuk!) - but this is never explained. Anyway, never ones to sit around doing nothing (er.. actually) the cats set off to locate a new source. As it turns out, naturally forming full fat milk is produced under the ocean floor – handy - so the felines turn to subaquatic mining to gather the goods.

Aqua Kitty : Milk Mine Defender is a delightful throwback to 1980's arcade horizontal shoot-em-ups and stuffed full of modern indie charm. Clearly based on Midway's arcade classic Defender (the clue is in the title, folks), Aqua Kitty tasks you with blasting waves of enemies while simultaneously defending your team mates at the bottom of the screen. Simple stuff, certainly, but just like Eugene Javis's original coin-op classic, it is frenzied and utterly addictive.

As soon as the game started up and the growling synths kicked in – perfectly replicating the style of classic Commodore 64 loader music – I knew I was going to get along swimmingly with this game. The presentation is absolutely top notch. From the amazing chiptune soundtrack by Electric Cafe, to the gorgeous pixel art, it is obvious that Aqua Kitty is a labour of love and and a nod to classic games and systems of the past. With gameplay clearly rooted in classic 80's coin-ops and music based on the wonderful SID chip, to visuals that clearly resemble the stylish 16-bit graphics of the Amiga. It's a wonderful marriage of styles and deserves high praise indeed. The character designs are fantastic too, with some lovable anthropomorphic felines, and robotic meanies that still manage to ooze personality. The game is full of humorous touches too, my favourite being a cute worm that occasionally pops up to make amusing comments. Aqua Kitty will certainly put a smile on your face.

Like the classics that inspired it, gameplay couldn’t be simpler. After hopping into your little submarine vehicle, you must move across the looping, horizontally scrolling stages blasting waves of robotic machines resembling sea life, protecting the miner cats extracting the milk. As well as your standard blaster, you have a special, more powerful blaster which has limited shots which recharges over time. Power-ups appear sporadically, and include smart bombs, weapon upgrades and a cool squad of helper bots to increase your fire-power. You can change direction at will (well, with the tap on the shoulder buttons) and a handy mini-map displaying yourself and your enemies as colour coded dots, mean you can keep an eye on what's happening around you – and believe me, things get pretty hectic pretty quickly. While the multitude of robotic sea menace zip around firing and generally harassing you, certain crafts will try to capture and escape with your comrades. You must rush to their aid and blast the offending catnapper before he breaches the water's surface and escapes.

While the initial stages - such as the gorgeous sounding Buttermilk Bay and Creamy Cove (stop sniggering at the back) – are fairly straightforward, the later levels get extremely tough. In fact, by the time you reach the final set of stages you will probably we sweaty and losing some of your hair due to the ridiculous odds you are up against. Regardless of the insane difficulty later on, I have been having a great time with this game and I urge anyone with a penchant 80's arcade games, shoot-em-ups Amiga style visuals and chiptune music to pick up Aqua Kitty at the next available opportunity. It is packed full of joy and will keep you entertained and amused, even when it makes you want to pull your hair out.

Aqua Kitty is now available on the Xbox Indie service and costs 240 points – a bargain.

Title : Aqua Kitty : Milk Mine Defender

Developer : Tikipod

System Reviewed : Xbox 360

Also on : PS Vita and PC (forthcoming)

Price :  240 points

Also Play:




Defender 2000



Orbitron : Revolution