This is what happens when you add cats and water to Defender. Justin doesn’t like cats, loves Defender, and is indifferent to water. Surely one of those opinions will change after a few dozen fish explosions.
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It has been a while since I have received a “WTF are you playing?!” message from a friend during my first session with a game. That reaction can make you self-conscious about your gaming decisions, but Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender has nothing to fear. It can stand as proud and adorable as its title implies and I advised my concerned associate to try it for himself.
Hang in there
I actually ended up playing Aqua Kitty by a case of mistaken identity. None of that matters though, what matters is I love Defender and Aqua Kitty proudly embraces its retro roots and makes some very smart design changes to make it much more accessible than the original. Of course, I’m not sure how much accessibility matters when you have a gorgeous pixel art style applied to ocean-savvy kitties who make cute kitty noises. Aww, kitty, you can stand on your own just fine.
No seriously, Defender is hard and kind of obtuse and Aqua Kitty eases you everyone into the ocean so naturally you’d think that cats actually like water. Sure the opening enemies are easy, but for new players it can take a while to understand how the side-scrolling level/map actually works. For more savvy players, you immediately jump in and start racking up combo points as the action starts to intensify with every level.
New enemies are introduced regularly and detailed in the intro screen to each level. It’s blatantly obvious that each enemy has strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited for survival or high score purposes. I really appreciated the variety of enemies and how well they stand apart from one another. That would have been enough of a “polish” to Defender for me, but then, we have turbo shot and weapon power-ups. Your turbo shot is a more powerful version of your regular attack, but it is limited by a meter which is limited by your level. Weapon power-ups provide a variety of time-limited shot types like a spread, perpindicular, front-and-back, or even a massive area explosion that can be used to wipe out a school of enemies.
These extra features surprised me, and played well into the arcade style of Aqua Kitty which (on the PC) benefits from having an arcade mode where you can just dive in and blow up enemies until you explode rather than worrying about the standard levels that have you protecting/rescuing underwater kitty milk miners.
Complete Cat Package
Aqua Kitty also has a fantastic chiptunes soundtrack from Electric Cafe, and enjoyable cat chatter on menu screens to polish off the experience. I still don’t know what those kitties are doing underwater and why they don’t understand the benefits of the local bovine population, but I’m happy they are there. Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender is a wonderful bite-sized arcade shooter that anyone can enjoy. Even people who are annoyed by cats like me. Trust me, they are much better in pixel form.
Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender is available for PC DRM-free directly from Tikipod. It’s also on Steam, GOG, Desura, Xbox Live Indie Games, and PSMobile (and Vita).
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