In Blade Kitten, a new platformer based on the webcomic of the same name, players follow the adventures of Kit Ballard, a half-feline bounty hunter, as she gives it to the baddies on the planet of Hollow Wish. It’s a cute game, and Kit’s as sassy as you’d expect a pink-haired, half-girl, half-cat with a giant sword to be – but the game’s short length (and reasonably high price tag) not to mention the same-y feel of the gameplay itself, means the good first impressions don’t carry players satisfactorily through to the end of the game.
But while we’re here at the start of the review, let’s take a look at the things that do work. For starters, the character and world design is very good: for all the plethora of bright-haired, big sword-weilding characters we’ve all seen in games before, Kit still manages to bring a convincing personality to the table. The cel-shaded environments are really quite attractive, and the voice acting is good – though a lot of Kit’s one liners will grate after a while.
As far as characters go, Kit’s a perfect anime-style heroine, with her perky upturned nose, cat ears, and a wide array of costume changes. Her alien sidekick, skiffy, is to die for (really) – he’s a combination of Pikachu and a small puppy, albeit with shark-like teeth. And he’s quite useful for getting into places Kit just can’t reach. Even the target of Kit’s bounty-hunting escapades, a Squamatan (part reptile humanoid) named Terra-Li, is damned cute; bumpy head and all. If you have any complaints about Blade Kitten, it won’t be about the style. A lot of work has obviously gone into the look of each of the characters.
Movement is fairly straightforward with standard run and jump actions. But due to Kit’s feline claws, she’s also able to climb up walls hand-over-hand which gives players some extra exploration options. As she moves around, Kit collects coins called Hex, which are displayed Super-Mario-style all over the place. With enough Hex you can buy weapon upgrades as well as several costume changes for our leading lassie, as well as some odder unlockable costumes as well. While collector-types are likely to want to amass the entire wardrobe, there’s not enough, upgrade-wise, to really entice players to seek out every last Hex on the level.
While Kit’s movement is satisfactory enough, combat in Blade Kitten is repetitive, with two main methods of fighting: close melee or ranged combat. Either can be used for all enemies, whether you are fighting a cyborg humanoid or the boss at the end of a level. There is really very little challenge with fighting and players will find they adopt a blasé button mashing approach to get them through.
Players used to games based on comics will also have high expectations of the story; unfortunately Blade Kitten doesn’t follow through on this front, with nominal “the princess is in another castle” cutscenes and a lot of running around to no avail.
The real kicker to this title, however, is its cliffhanger ending (after all, this is only Episode 1 of what I presume will be at least a three- or four-part series) which is more frustrating than tantalising. And in terms of value for money, the results aren’t great either (Blade Kitten is currently retailing at just under $25 NZD on the PlayStation Network). At the end of the day, Blade Kitten is cute and light, but offers no real challenge or new approach to the platform genre. It’s also priced just over that impulse-buy threshold. Unless you’ve got a real jones for cute pink-haired girls with big swords, my recommendation is to wait for it to go on sale before you pick it up.