Blade Kitten Xbox 360 Review
If I were to say the word ‘cat-girls’, what would you think of? Something to do with Japan? Anime characters, maybe even Felicia from the Darkstalkers series? Either way it’s not often you can throw around the word cat-girl in relation to something created by a developer from an English speaking country. That has all changed. If you have a PC, 360 or PS3, Krome Studios’ Blade Kitten is now out and ready to claw you up, meow.
Based on the comics that share the same name, Blade Kitten features the world-famous bounty hunter ‘Kit Ballard’, a hyper-personality cat-girl who has pink hair and a floating sword. She’s the protagonist of the game, chasing after ‘Justice’, a bounty hunter who just loves to be a pain in the arse. Justice steals Kit’s ‘Breaker key’ before managing to run off. Reminiscent of the likes of Roadrunner or Sylvester and Tweety, there are plenty of moments in the game where you are right near her, only for her to run off again after doing some simple gag to escape. You kind of wish she would just stop still so you can open a can of whoop-arse on the annoying thief.
That’s as far as the story really ever progresses. On your way to trying to catch Justice you run into people who require help, and so the story is left on the sidelines for most of the game. It’s not until the end where you learn about Kit’s past, but then it stops and alerts you that it will be continued in episode 2; yeah this game is going down the episodic route.
So we know the story is a little bit rubbish, but what about the game. Well Blade Kitten is a mixture of platforming and hacking away at enemies using your floating sword. It plays like an old-school platformer on a 2D plane. There’s a sort of floaty feeling to how Kit jumps and runs but once you’ve become accustomed to the platforming in Blade Kitten, you’ll find that it is quite solid. Kit has the ability to double jump, climb on walls and ceilings, and hook onto places to stop being dragged away. All of Kit’s platforming moves are used to full effect. This is most true when trying to find all the hidden stash, of which there is a bucket load to find in the game’s quite large (for a 2d platformer, some can take up to 25 minutes to complete) levels.
Combat, Blade Kitten’s other main element, isn’t as good. It’s simply way too easy. There are two attack buttons, one for short combat and another for sending your blade far in front, which is used to hit things behind barriers. Simply running forward and tapping the attack button will get you by most enemies. The developers tried to mix things up by giving the enemies shields later on in the game, but all you need to do is remove them with the long range attack, and then simply hammer attack again to finish them off. The only time the combat isn’t thoughtless is when fighting bosses. The last boss battle is especially exciting to battle; it’s just a shame that there aren’t that many boss-fights within the game’s 13 levels.
Krome Studios even gave Kit a super attack that after filling up a metre by killing people allows you do to an instant death on any normal enemy. It does a fancy slow mo version of the death attack, only that it’s meaningless, since most enemies can be simply killed by tapping the normal attack. You’ll use it once to see it, laugh at how hopeless it is at helping you kill people, and then you’ll never use it again.
A welcome inclusion are the monster riding sections. In two of the levels you are given the ability to ride a mutated-looking fur-less ostrich that makes it feel like you’re playing Donkey Kong Country. Another level is a chase sequence in which you are running away from some huge armoured beast that is destroying the level around you. This style of play breaks away from the brainless combat and amounts to some of the game’s better levels.
Blade Kitten has a bright and colourful cel-shaded look, giving a very cartoon-like feeling. It’s demonstrated even better through the in game cutscenes as Kit’s face seems to be able to mould into all sorts of amusing expressions. The voice work for Kit is passable, but some of the dialogue can be up and down at points when they try to play one-liners.
It’s a shame that the combat couldn’t be improved because that’s what brings down Blade Kitten as a game. It makes matters worse that the combat is increased as you go further into the game. As mentioned before, the platforming is concrete, and while the levels are linear, they have plenty of hidden locations to find using Kit’s abilities to sniff them out. There are plenty of times in certain levels that I thought maybe I’d gone the wrong way, only then to find out I had, but discovered a chest in the process. It makes it feel as if the levels have a sort of multi-path progression to them, rewarding the player for exploring.
It’s a bummer that you have to put up with tedious combat to enjoy the platforming. Krome Studios should take on board this problem and solve it in the next episode of Blade Kitten. If they can get the combat sections right, they’ll be on to a good old-school platforming game, and there aren’t many of those any more.