It isn't common to see a cat dressed as a cannon man trying to rescue goldfish. But then, you don't find a former rocket scientist designing iOS games everyday either. These combinations sound wacky, defy logic and warn you that the result might not be your typical video game. Because this isn't. This is a very shameful combination of popular culture, manga influences and a good dose of retro gaming just for the sake of fun.
Cannon Cat by Loqheart is simple action game where you rescue floating goldfish in the sky from the hands of evil birds — emus and penguins in this case. This is the main excuse for having your feline friend propelled from cannon to cannon until reaching a warpgate. The goal of he game is completing the journey from point A to B using those cannons as your transportation method.
At the beginning of every level you simply appear teleported to the first of them. These cannons are either static, rotate or move on their own, giving you little chance to control the direction of your jump. This is one of the greatest gameplay achievements, since the simple mechanics enable a super simple one tap control scheme. The cannon fires whenever you tap and will rotate or move automatically following a repetitive pattern.
I find difficult to categorise the game since the start is really easy and it gets more puzzle-ly as the levels progress. The experience is similar to Cut the Rope in the sense that you need to plan several actions ahead before making a move, usually with some form of synchronised timing.
In the vein of iOS casual games, Cannon Cat comes with plenty of extremely short levels that can be completed under ten seconds. Again, the first 20 are very simple and are there to introduce some of the mechanics, tricks and combinations that will be used in more complex levels. After that, the increasing amount of enemies, new objects such as bouncy spike fish, give some refresh to what is, in its core, a very simple gameplay. The whole goldfish collection gives an extra replay layer, as you're encouraged to return and complete the level with a high score. I prefer the more hectic route and usually go quickly through the levels to get a speed run — there is a lot of fun with this too it that's your thing.
The characters are specially cute and the cat theme, cat talk, expressions and sound effects can only make you smile
And of course, one of the most remarkable things about Cannon Cat is its aesthetics. This is an obvious wink to the lolcatz generation. The expressions when Cannon Cat misses a cannon and plummets into the void are just superb. Then, the theme in Cannon Cat has a strong reminiscence of the baddies you would get in Mega Man: mechanical animals. The cartoony look, colour palette and animation style bring me back to the nineties. The background music, which gets too repetitive after a while, has a flavour of Sega cartridge games. The result isn't the sanest looking theme but it gives it a lot of personality.
As a free game, Cannon Cat delivers hours of fun without the caveats of free-to-play we see so often on the App Store. The in-game currency is earned in every level and allows you to buy additional power-ups. There isn't any need to do so in my opinion, since the game is already balanced on the easy side already. Having aids such as time pause, checkpoints, bigger fish and a defense shield would only help you to pass a level if you get stuck, but not necessarily add anything else to the gameplay.
I would recommend, however, adding some in-app-purchase with cosmetic enhancements instead of consumables. Additional extra-hard level packs like Angry Birds Space could do the trick for those who have already completed the initial 80 levels the game comes with.
I'm impressed with the quality level on a debut title like this for Loqheart. Touch controls just feel right, everything is tight and levels feel tried and tested. Developer David Ngo tells me there are more levels coming up soon and I'm hoping we get all those assets ready for the new iPad — at the time of writing the app is Universal but looks like it's using the resources for the iPhone retina version. Cannon Cat has been chosen by Apple as Game of the Week, which is a massive honour. I hope this nice recognition will help this newly formed team to continue to develop for the platform.