originals\ Jan 17, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Week in Mobile: Naughty Kitties is FTL: Faster Than Light with cats

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As you push ever forward through space, your ship’s armory and defense prove equally as vital as the health and work efficiency of your crew. One can’t survive without the other. The danger is unpredictable — never the same twice. Resources dwindle.

Sound familiar? I’m describing Subset Games’ space roguelike FTL: Faster Than Light, but I might as well be talking about Coconut Island Studio’s upcoming Naughty Kitties, due for iOS this month and Android later, where strategic tower-defense meet endless running.

“The original idea of this game comes from the slot machine,” Wen Chen, the co-founder of the Chinese indie studio, told GameZone. “We wanted to make a strategy game with some random surprises.”

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Players assemble a team of cats, each of which serves different roles onboard the ship. Players can use them (or the ship’s special weapon) to shoot enemies, but a key move is to trigger “combos” by swapping in three of the same type of cats. This boosts their attack power but expends their energy faster. Eventually, they’ll tire and need replacing. The farther you get before everything falls apart, the more score points — rewarded for distance traveled — you’ll earn to pump into upgrades and new felines. You’ll also unlock more stages and vehicles naturally.

“The cats' mood will also affect their performance in game, so don’t forget to feed them,” Chen warns.

It seems like cats have the potential to make any game popular, or at least more fun. “We guess it's interesting for cat lovers to see them fighting on the ship,” he says. “And it's also interesting for them to see cats drop from the ship when they feel tired or bored. We designed characteristics for each cat. Some are extremely naughty, and some are lazy, some have a bad temper, and some like being alone, a bit like the musical, Cats.”

Naughty Kitties is a freemium game. Fish (of course) acts as premium currency. You earn some each time you level up and use them to upgrade cats or ships. But Chen says spending money isn’t required.

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This may just be a lite, less serious version of FTL that you can play for free. “FTL is a great strategy game,” Chen says. “The battle parts have some things in common. One thing is that you are supposed to allocate your members to different positions, and you also have to repair your ship. All of this is real-time strategy.

“But the system [in Naughty Kitties] is quite different,” he says. “Our cats appear randomly, and there is no resource management in Naughty Kitties, so there is more action in our game. Unlike FTL's turn-by-turn travelling, our game is in real time. Naughty Kitties' enemies appear randomly, and each level is an endless randomly generated level. As you travel farther, the difficulty will increase.”

Gameplay is less complicated for that reason. Players just drag and drop cats into place, and they shoot enemies automatically. That sounds a lot less stressful than FTL.

“We got rid of the complex part of RTS games,” says Chen. “We just wanted to keep the game simple so everyone can enjoy it.”

And, hey — it's got cats.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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