• Johnna Bollesen

Astro Aqua Kitty Review (Switch)

Not kitten around, its feline fun!

Astro Aqua Kitty is a follow-up to the early Switch release arcade-based shmup, Aqua Kitty UDX. The original feline adventure features a determined cast of cats who traverse the deep seas in search of milk after their supply on Earth is depleted. This cheeky storyline makes for a fun and archaic shoot-em-up experience that carries over into the most recent edition. But does Astro Aqua Kitty live up to its fur-midable predecessor or does this cat have nothing else to drag in?



Plot


The story begins with assembling your elite bushy-tailed team, choosing one pilot and one engineer from a selection of eight characters. From there, you launch into a watery-filled asteroid belt to mine for gems, take on a brigade of peculiar enemies, and discover new weapons. As you investigate the submerged caverns, an armada of space pirate rabbits threatens to ransack your treasure. That’s right, it’s cats versus rabbits in all-out cosmic combat!



Gameplay


In the original aquatic adventure, you battle an onslaught of underwater enemies in a sequence of narrow, looping spaces. Astro Aqua Kitty takes these same mechanics and applies them to considerably larger and more intricate levels, making for high-speed surrounding action and greater exploration. For those who played the first title, the weapons system will also be familiar. You’re equipped with a swappable main weapon and sub weapon, both of which you can upgrade for stronger guns as you harvest gems and earn experience points. The pace at which you collect experience drags at times, but on the plus side most of the weapons are capable of taking out common enemies.


When it comes to missions and objectives, Astro Aqua Kitty teeters on its ninth life. Many of the missions are redundant, such as in Level 2 when you have to gather two lots of resources to build a battery, but must do so four times. The repetition doesn’t completely squash the player experience but completing the same task over and over does hinder your motivation.



On the flip side, the combat is one of the game’s strongest assets. Often times you will encounter waves of enemies that ambush you from every direction. These instances require a fair bit of strategy and careful calculation in order to blitz your way through enemy assaults. Defeating your foes earns you more XP, acquiring enough of which will grant a level-up. You can also use XP towards obtaining new items and abilities that will aid you in the next swarm or boss battle.


Speaking of bosses, Astro Aqua Kitty’s big baddies aren’t kitten around. Between behemoth mechanical worms and spongy laser-eyed contraptions, many of the final honchos pose a salient threat. They test the player’s ability to dodge attacks while manoeuvring around objects and tight spaces. Also armed with a hefty health meter, the bosses force long drawn out clashes, from which the player will emerge victorious after successfully berating the boss’s weak spot to the point of defeat. Though not as awe-inspiring as some other rapid-fire bosses from notable schumps, Astro Aqua Kitty’s bosses score it major points for presenting a fun and satisfying challenge.



Audio & Visuals


Graphics-wise, Astro Aqua Kitty delivers the same charming 2D aesthetic from the original, but gives a complete overhaul to the characters and environment. The visuals are much crisper with cool lighting effects, such as a neon glow that enemies emit as you dive deeper through underwater passages. The hand drawn character portraits also create a pleasing visual appeal that brings out each critter’s personality.


The music, however, isn’t quite the cat’s meow. While the lively 8-bit style beats fit each action-packed level, the same tune and minimal change in tone can get old. Weaving in some ambient or slower-paced tracks would have helped diversify the player experience. Nevertheless, the occasional random cat meow is humorously delightful and definitely adds to the game’s quirkiness.



Conclusion


In the end, Astro Aqua Kitty is a solid and enriching sequel to Aqua Kitty UDX that inherits many of the features that made the original title so likeable. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is deceptively challenging underneath the cutesy cat characters and innocent graphics. If you’re a fan of shoot-em-ups, Astro Aqua Kitty is a fun ride that’s worth the play-through.


So, why should you play it?

  • Beautiful visuals that vastly improve upon those in the original

  • Fun and challenging bosses

  • Engaging enemy combat

But, why shouldn’t you play it?

  • Repetitious quests and objectives

  • Lack of distinct music styles and tone

Written by

Johnna Bollsen

Johnna is a copywriter and aspiring concept artist based in Sydney, Australia. When she's not writing or designing characters, Johnna enjoys spending her free time in the comfort of an open world game. Some of her favourite titles include Twilight Princess, Okami, and God of War 2018.