It's hard to think of a more unlikely genre for an acclaimed indie developer like Luke Schneider of Radian Games to tap into than the dominant mobile physics puzzler. More closely associated with boldly innovative twin-stick shooters, not to mention the hellishly addictive delights of last year's Slydris, it's safe to say we were intrigued to find out what fresh life Schneider could breathe into this tired old stalwart of mobile gaming.
The end result is Bombcats, a game that tasks you with flinging a variety of cats around a huge number of levels, in order to gather up currencies and free kittens from their cages with explosive force. All of the staples of the genre are here - collect three of something to complete a level, line up trajectories to steer your feline friends through each perilous landscape, and set off delicate chain reactions so as to make the most of your limited moves.
A handful of different cats ensures things remain fresh throughout the game's 190 levels, and each cat has its own special attributes. Some can make longer or more frequent leaps in mid-air, while others can sink their claws into ledges, sticking them fast to even the most perilous surfaces. The common power they all share though is the ability to detonate - either after a period of time, or through an icon tap - freeing a nearby kitten from its cage.
There's plenty of imagination behind the design of these levels too. You'll likely breeze through the first 50 or so, but things soon get more challenging as you take charge of multiple cats, choosing the best furry friend for the job at hand. To inject further variety there are even timed challenges, where you'll have to blast through the previous set of levels as quickly as possible without fluffing a single move. It all serves to separate the game from the rest of the pack, where you simply grind through level after level without ever really taking each carefully crafted experience in.
Elsewhere, there are upgrades, power-ups, and boosts galore to be unlocked using the minor currencies littered throughout each level. Your cat's blast radius can be upgraded, for example, or the trajectory arc can be lengthened to assist your aiming. You can even slow down time if you're finding a particular level just a little too taxing. In short, it's everything you'd expect from this sort of game, provided in abundance.
Bombcats isn't just another physics puzzler, then, but there's no getting away from the fact that it is just one more addition to a very large pile of like-minded games. With that said, and taken on its own merits, this is a perfectly polished title that offers up some much-needed variety for fans of the genre. It's not a revolution, and it's certainly not the game long-term fans of the studio would have been hoping for, but Bomb Cats certainly knows how to scratch any time-killing itch you have.
What's Hot:Lots of levels, a fresh twist on the typical physics puzzling fare, and plenty of variety to keep things fresh.
What's Not:For all of its accomplishments, this feels like rather safe ground in a saturated genre.