LaserCat

Jump, dodge and explore in the search for your Owlfriend who has been kidnapped by Wizzord the magic space frog! Playing as Lasercat, you need find all of the keys in the fortress to unlock Owl's prison cell. A retro styled exploration platform game featuring 225 rooms filled with traps, creatures and deadly, deadly lava.

"I, Wizzord, the magic space frog have taken your precious Owlfriend to my magic space castle! The ransom for his/her release is one million British Pounds Sterling!" It sure is tough to tell what sex your bird is. Wizzord knows this and addresses the kidnapped Owlfriend to cover all possibilities. He's also smart enough to know that the Euro is going down the drain, so he demands his ransom in pounds sterling because no currency is as stable as that of a European monarchy. LaserCat was released back in April of 2011, so hopefully Europeans heeded his sage advice. Even better is if they took the time to play the game.

LaserCat must save Owlfriend in this terrific VVVVVV inspired platformer. It's not that LaserCat apes VVVVVV's unique gravity flipping mechanics and wire bouncing gameplay as LaserCat has no powers beyond any ordinary cat, able to leap about six or so times its own height. There's no refrigerators in the world of LaserCat but plenty of moving platforms and seemingly random looking enemies patrolling the rooms to test his jumping skills. The gameplay is pretty basic stuff but nonetheless enjoyable, and while the challenges never become too great, there's plenty enough here to keep one entertained.

The real draw to the game is its world -- the level design, style, and enemies -- which feel ripped straight from Terry Cavanagh's hit PC game. Though roughly half the size of VVVVVV's 406 rooms, LaserCat holds its own, providing players with plenty to explore. Spread across this great big rainbow colored world are 30 keys LaserCat must find to gain access to the locked chamber where Wizzord keeps Owlfriend. None of these keys are as tricky or challenging as VVVVVV's crew members or trinkets, many left right out in the open for LaserCat to grab. The twist is that LaserCat will drop any currently held key he or she has found if hit until bringing it to one of dozens of save points scattered throughout the world, so finding them is just part of the journey. The more interesting tweak to this formula is that LaserCat is warped to a trivia game whenever a key is collected. Answer correctly, and the key is received; otherwise, LaserCat dies.

Death by wrong answer is the biggest threat to LaserCat. The plethora of save points makes having to retrace one's steps back to a key tolerable, but no in-game obstacle threatens the player as much as the trivia game. The trivia questions span a variety of topics, and the player has unlimited chances to answer them correctly, the lone penalty being the return trek back to the key. It's a neat twist and an often humorous one, but players may find repeated missed answers and their consequences annoying, akin to how losing the janken battles in Alex Kidd can drag out the game.

Even with that minor potential nuisance, LaserCat is just a wonderful game, too fun and well put together to ignore. There are a number of amusing VVVVVV style room titles, some randomly named, others clever puns such as seeing a forced scrolling room labeled "Catabalt," as in Canabalt with a LaserCat. The line art graphics and rotating color scheme keep things visually interesting (though harsher critics may complain about the lack of detail and animation along with the tiny display), and Xbox Indie MVP Kevin MacLeod's soundtrack is excellent as always. Daniel McFarline and his Monster Jail Games have created a terrific and essentially flawless gem of a platformer. The graphics won't impress, but they'll also not impede all of the fun to be had here. Considering how so many indie platformers crank up the difficulty sky high, LaserCat still finds a niche just by being a well made platformer most people can play and enjoy.

★★★★☆
December 12, 2011
April 28, 2011 | 80 points
Developer | Video | Download

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