This platform game may just cat-ch your fancy.
Knocking Mario and Sonic off their lofty perches as kings of platform games is no easy feat. This is especially true when it comes to the PC, which notoriously lacks the adventures of everybody’s favorite red plumber and awkward Italian stereotype from Brooklyn. It may be argued that the Super Mario series represents the epitome of platform game design, and its absence is noticeably felt in the PC gaming market. This has given rise to countless clones and imitators, some of which are good but most of which are lackluster. Super Phantom Cat, I’m pleased to say, is an example of the former rather than the latter.
Starting out life as a mobile endeavor for Android and iOS, Super Phantom Cat is chiefly a Mario-esque platformer with various cues from other games in a similar vein. You take on the role of a funky cat who has to save his sister from aliens. Along the way, his various friends will help him out on his journey and plenty of treasure will be found. It’s what you’d expect: bounce on enemies, collect coins, and discover the secrets. Platforming 101, truly. What you see is what you get, although you may be disappointed if you’re expecting something more clever and ground-breaking. This is the sort of stuff you’d’ve found on your NES, but updated for a more modern audience without the pretense of faux 3D and voice acting.
Though while it may not be a pretentious affair, it’s also not all not merely just a case of bashing blocks, collecting coins, and eliminating enemies. Our roster of heroes go beyond just the dear cat, with more than a dozen different characters to unlock. These range from rock stars to scientists, and each have their own cute appearance and the occasional new ability to make gameplay more colorful and interesting. They’re unlocked by finding fragments in chest throughout the game’s levels, often hidden in obscure locations and encouraging exploration. If that’s not enough, there are also a slew of skills to unlock, such as being able to phase through solid blocks or growing vines in order to reach assorted out-of-the-way locales. Players also get a “base” of sorts to maintain, where they may buy upgrades, unlock challenges, create new slots for elixirs and keys, or purchase some powerups. It’s a tad like the Funky Kong huts from the Donkey Kong Country games, and gives you an incentive to find more secrets and coins.
One thing you’ll notice immediately is the presentation. Everything in the game’s world is square with rounded edges, giving the game a unique though somewhat Flash-like look. There are no black borders, no outlines, and colors are very vibrant. The palettes and backgrounds are equally beautiful and varied, with the somewhat-standard garden, desert, and ice cave tropes that have appeared in countless platform games before. The music too is compiled of moderately catch, uplifting tunes. Make no mistake, this game is as enjoyable to look at as it is to play. The only real downside is that it’s all over a bit too quickly. There aren’t that many levels, especially compared to the original title on mobile, so a lot of the replayability hinges on getting perfect scores in the levels, finding all the secrets, and unlocking the assorted upgrades and bonuses. You’ll have a fun time here, but there’s a hell of a load more potential.
Don’t pro-cat-stinate. Play this right now.
And enjoyable to play it is. Every level introduces some new gimmick, and ensures that you’re always doing something. You’re constantly collecting coins, killing baddies, jumping for platforms, and looking for secrets. It’s the same sort of crispness and sharpness that made the Super Mario Brothers and the Donkey Kong Country games so endearing.
If you’re up for some uncomplicated and non-gimmicky classic platform goodness, then Super Phantom Cat should definitely rocket to the top of your shopping list. Many platformers have attempted to take up the gauntlet laid down by Mario, but few truly understand the mechanics of what made the Italian plumber so great in the first place. Super Phantom Cat is enable to embrace the formula all while adding its own twists and distinctive personality. It may look cute, but be warned: underneath the colorful facade is a solid platformer that’ll test your skill. Does it sound like it’d take your fancy? Then take a gander at its Steam page here. And check out the trailer below for the upcoming Switch port.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, mobile (iOS and Android) ; Publisher: WhiteLakeStudio ; Developer: Veewo Games ; Players: single-player ; Released: the 7th of May, 2019.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a Steam key for Super Phantom Cat provided by the game’s publisher.