The cat games of PAX East 2014: Featuring Mew-Genics and Cat-lateral Damage
If there was a theme at PAX East this year, it probably wasn’t cats, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the two biggest cat games at the show: Team Meat’s Mew-Genics and overnight-hit Cat-lateral Damage! Each game takes its feline fetishes in some very different directions, but if you like cats, these are going to be your games. Let’s hit them one at a time:
Mew-Genics is a truly absurd game. Team Meat’s Tommy Refenes describes it best: “You breed cats, you hoard furniture in your house, the stuff in your house changes how your cats are born and what they’re born with -- abilities, etc. You send them to cat fights and beauty pageants, and races. You’re just trying to breed the best cat for whatever you want to do at the time.”
It’s also adorable and sadistic all at once. Fail at a cat fight and your cat goes in the trash. Then there’s all that cute cat breeding. “The doctor for instance might want a cat with a certain disease,” Refenes said. “So you would actively try to get this cat to contract this disease to give it to this doctor so he can give you something else. It’s about manipulating the game world to do what you want.”
“If the doctor wanted something incredibly mutated, you probably would want to fill your house with things that encourage mutation. Like, stuff that’s radioactive, so you can mutate these cats, give them to him, and maybe he’d give you a new cure for a different type of disease that one of your other cats has.”
I asked Refenes where this crazy cat lady simulator came from, as its such a departure from Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac. “We wanted a challenge, and we gave ourselves a challenge with this game. We were working on some other stuff, but Ed and I hadn’t been working together for a while, just because of Meatboy for me and [Binding of ] Isaac for him. We did a Ludum Dare and we did a prototype for this game. We thought it was really fun, and 18 months later we’re still working on it!” he said. There’s even a comic on their site detailing it all.
When I asked how far off the release was, Refenese honestly had no idea. “The scope of the game is way bigger than we set out to do. We keep adding stuff because it fits the game. This demo is about ten percent of what the actual game is."
When it does finally arrive, it will likely come to PC and touch devices. Consoles are out of the running because they found that controller support just doesn’t work well, though I sincerely hope that doesn’t rule out a Vita version of the game.
Meet the new Katamari Damacy. Whereas that game was strangely compelling for its obsessive-compulsive rolling-up of everything in the world, Cat-lateral Damage, with its oddly similar name, satisfies another pure pleasure -- knocking things off of shelves. The joke here is that cats are jerks and a million videos online of cats knocking stuff off of shelves and tables proves that. The odd thing is how the joke translates into a strangely satisfying, simple game.
Developer Chris Chung went all out with the controls here. You’ve got a left and right jab, as well as a left and right swipe. From there, it’s a first-person exercise in thoroughly messing up a room. Much like the earlier zones of Katamari, the game is both cartoony and oddly domestic. In one mode, your goal is to knock down items by value, trying to reach $75,000 in damage within a time limit. The game consoles and TVs were of course the first thing to go.
What started as a joke is now being turned into a full-fledged game. “After the Steam release we'll be looking into releasing on consoles and possibly mobile,” Chung posted on Twitter. This is a serious game now, and while it’s a fun and silly joke as it is, I hope he’s able to craft a fun, full experience.
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