Tower defence games are about as old as the Internet itself; in fact I remember many lost hours spent defending my castle during what passed for IT lessons in the UK about 10 years ago. I could have been forgiven for assuming that little more could be added to this particular genre and never really wanting to play another. Then a friend recommended Battle Cats to me a couple of weeks ago… HOOKED is definitely the word!
Developed by Ponos, Battle Cats has a ridiculous sense of humour and an utterly unique self-aware quality that seems to toe the line between genius and insanity. The game begins with a hideously translated story in purest Engrish and continuously breaks the 4th wall:
“In 2012, USA launched a secret proejct. To wake up Japanese people from being too peaceful, their new weapon was sent into Japan. Code name “Battle Cats” Japanese people are too kind and nice to use cruelty weapons to the Battle Cats… By the way, I Saw the developer of the Battle Cats was interviewed on TV… I know, it’s insane.”
The game itself is a relatively straightforward tower defence game: your tower sits at the right hand side of the screen, with an enemy tower on the left. The enemy tower spits out a stream of enemies to which you can counter with your collection of cat warriors. Currency to deploy cats rises every second and also comes in chunks when you defeat an enemy in the field. In standard tower defence mechanics, how you balance your expenditure is up to you and different levels will require different tactics (although many will involve just unleashing as many of the feline WMDs as quickly as you possibly can).
The art style of Battle Cats is minimalistic but very effective. The sprites are drawn almost exclusively in black and white but every cat and enemy has a personality that shines through in the animation. The enemy towers are also each meticulously drawn, the whole package looks like it could be hand painted and hung on a wall.
Completing a level gains experience which can be used to purchase new types of cats, upgrade the ones in your roster (with special forms when fully upgraded), and increase support such as how fast currency is obtained, the total amount that can be held, power and range of your cat cannon (on top of the tower) and how much HP the tower has.
The enemy gallery is an example of the off the wall humour and this may not be to everyone’s taste (the image to the left is a sample..) however the whole thing is clearly meant to be taken with a pinch of salt and is designed to be poking fun at itself; one enemy that apparently speaks terrible English is reported to have taught the designers the language.
Microtransactions appear in Battle Cats however they are only presented as an option to progress through the game faster should you wish; I think the balance is just about right here with the energy required to attempt missions regenerating relatively quickly and prompting you to jump in for say 15-20 minutes at a time, perfect for mobile gaming.
Utterly ridiculous comedy value
Difficulty curve and procedural progress is very well designed
Cats. Lots of cats.
Level completion treasures are random drops
Later levels require lots of energy to attempt
Replaying old levels for experience can become repetitive
Battle Cats is a slice of uniqueness in a mobile gaming space that is increasingly filled with clones and short term fads. It may not be the newest game but the charm and simplicity will keep you coming back for more
Available on Android (2.2 and up) and iOS