Captain Cat (Switch) Review
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Publisher: Hidden Trap
Platform: Switch (reviewed), mobile, Xbox One
If screenshots of this game give a mobile vibe, it’s for good reason. Despite being unable to find a purchasable storefront in iTunes, I’m finding reviews of Captain Cat for iOS and Android from back in 2012. The game doesn’t look like it’s evolved since then, and is merely finding a new audience on Switch and Xbox One. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you’re getting exactly what you’d expect in a budget title. I just wish a few minor upgrades were done instead of a straight port, making this feel like a bit of a cash grab.
The simple storyline is that the titular Captain Cat is having difficulty catching fish and tries his hand with a new hook. He sails in to try to nab a fish at the bottom of the sea but must wrangle his hook down to it. Luckily the hook will run in a straight line until you stop it, turn it, and send it further on. More and more obstacles are thrown your way through the course of the 50 levels (plus 25 perfect one-shot levels and an endless mode).
The game is a direct mobile translation, down to the simple Switch menu icon and the fact that there are little dotted lines you have to keep the boat (and all action) in between that only takes up a third of the screen. This could have been mitigated in handheld mode by allowing a “tate mode” that would be compatible with the super awesome Flip Grip. Strangely enough, there are zero touchscreen controls, which obviously already existed. It’s like it was ported for X1 and then shipped over to the Switch without taking advantage of it’s unique features.
Control boils down to moving the boat to where you want to launch then dropping anchor. After that, it’s one button to move the hook. Avoid walls and enemies and get to the fish. There are power ups, like anchors that can cut through dirt for a limited time or are immune to the current, as well as treasures to pick up to rank up the score and aim for the three-star rating. Once you found that spot that makes sense to drop the hook, though, it’s literally a one-button game.
There are twenty-five levels each in two separate worlds, but there isn’t any semblance of thematic difference between them short of a different catch at the bottom of the sea. You unlock the second set after getting enough stars in the first (you can skip levels you can’t quite pull off), and get no rewards (not even credits) for beating phase two. I burned through all of those in a night, as well as the 25 levels requiring you to hit the fish with a single, non-turning shot and getting my fill of Endless mode.
Sometimes, enemies and positioning of pickups seems done rather smartly. You have to go fast enough to get the prize before the jellyfish gets to it, and hitting that is very fun. However, at other times obstacles seem there to annoy you, like the randomly changing current that’ll slam you into the wall if you go at the wrong time. It gets frustrating to spend a minute getting down near the fish and then hitting one obstacle and having to do it again. The Endless mode is particularly frustrating, as the start of your line is based on the timing of your drop of the hook versus the pattern the enemies are in, plus a half a degree off can make a world of difference when you stretch it to the bottom of the sea. While Endless is enjoyable, the simple fact is that there are zero leaderboards, let alone no record of your previous attempts to try to break.
Captain Cat did entice my kids, who sat down with me to figure out the puzzles. They walked by, saw the mechanics, and instantly understood them. They offered to take over when I got frustrated a couple times. Captain Cat is amazingly easy to understand and pick up, but in a world where my wife’s on Level 250 on Matchington Mansion with no end in sight on a freemium game, it’s sad to see such a fun gameplay “hook” end after 50. At $6.99, Captain Cat is a fun title, but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you’re a perfectionist looking for that three-star rating.
-Easy access, pick up and play
-Ends far too soon with no rewards or feeling of achievement/records
-No use of special Switch configurations
-Literal straight mobile port: one-button gameplay, could’ve used Tate Mode
Thanks to Hidden Trap for providing a code for review!