You better hope you’ve got more than nine lives for this title, because you will die, again, and again, and again! Scram Kitty And His Buddy On Rails isn’t afraid to show its claws soon after you begin, the difficulty ramps up right from the start and spares no expense. Mastering “Buddy” and his “on-rails” vehicle will take you some time, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t amazingly satisfying when you pull a pixel by pixel perfect run of a stage you’ve been stuck on for a couple of hours.

SK4

Buddy is out to save cats from aboard a spaceship overrun by rodents, with the help of Scram Kitty and a spinboard. This new method of transportation has you gliding across the sides of each stage just as the name suggests, on rails. Extremely responsive controls will be the judge of whether you’re comfortable going all out and seeing if you truly are a platforming master or whether you need to make a quick retreat and carefully plan your route, ahead of time. The spinboard only allows you to fire your weapons directly in front of your ship, so you must decide how to tackle the game’s enemies using the different platforms and stage parts you’re surrounded by. Enemies may come in the form of many small, not-so-difficult rats and gigantic ones which will take some time to take down. You can also perform a fire attack of sorts, allowing Buddy to jump off the rail briefly and perform a spinning attack. The power of magnetism will have considerable effect in how your attacks play out, as well as how you maneuver around the stages. These jumps are hard to control and master, so luckily it only comes into play a few times throughout the game’s main mode, but the feeling of pulling it all off correctly is just phenomenal.

SK3

The game is full of intricate platforming moments and challenges, some of which will take a while to master. The first few stages are as you’d expect, a tutorial of sorts, never directly telling you what to do but showing you the very basics of what’s about to come. Scram Kitty does appear on the screen from time to time and gives you some hints however. To 100% complete the game, you’ll need to learn and know these stages like the back of your hand, as to progress through the game, you have to save an increasing amount of cats. You get one cat every time you complete a level, fairly standard, but here’s where the challenge starts to come in. The majority of the time, there are four cats to save on every stage. One for completing the level, one which you must find within the level, then hit it back to the stage exit within a time limit; another cat that only appears after you’ve defeated the brutal Mouse Commander, and finally a cat that appears once you’ve collected 100 pennies. It’s a strange mix of Pacman and Super Mario Bros. as well as other classic platform games, but the synergy between all these games absolutely works in Scram Kitty.

Not only do you have all that to worry about, but stage hazards too. You’ve got enemies firing weapons at you, platforms that will damage you if you touch them once, the traditional spike hazards, switches and platforms to control, as well as controlling your jumps so that you don’t fall out of the reach of the level’s magnetism and die. If you’re life reaches zero, you’re automatically restarted at the beginning of the stage and will have all your progress taken away; life can be replenished by defeating enemies though. No one said this was going to be easy.

SK2

The impatient among us will likely turn away after the first few stages, but the select others will know that there’s no other feeling than spending hours on a stage and finally mastering it with no damage and as quick as possible. The later stages only serve to make that feeling much more greater, stage design just gets better, you start to feel a beat in your head as a means to help you maintain a rhythm throughout stages and you’ll begin to wonder why no one has attempted Scram Kitty before.

With 70 cats and 29 stages, those who are looking to fill that gap between New Super Mario Bros. U and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze but don’t want to break the bank will definitely have fun with Scram Kitty And His Buddy On Rails. Once you’ve completed the main adventure mode, you can move on to an even more brutal challenge begins in challenge mode, where a mash up of the game’s greatest designs and stages are given to you and you must rescue as many cats within the time limit given; collecting coins add seconds and getting hits takes them away. It’s a mode that will draw you in and take advantage, but slightly let down by no inclusion of online leaderboards.

SK

Don’t be fooled by this title’s cutesy look, Scram Kitty has all the ingredients of a classic platformer in the making. Great level design coupled with high levels of challenge create a rhythm that most other games in the genre miss; this title will surely be an influence of similar games to come.

Scram Kitty And His Buddy On Rails is available now on the Nintendo Wii U eShop for $9.99/£8.99.

Thank you to Dakko Dakko for providing a code in order to produce this review.



Author

Daniel Switzer
Daniel Switzer

@PushStartMedia editor and Nintendo specialist.