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Cranky Cat

For: Android

Cream of the crop

Product: Cranky Cat | Publisher: March Entertainment | Format: Android | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Cranky Cat Android, thumbnail 1
There's a weird little sub-genre of puzzle games where the developers obviously started with someone else's idea, decided the game needed a bit more of everything, but didn't strike a balance between creating something distinctive and just putting a wacky new spin on the original idea. For the hell of it.

Take Tetrisphere, for example, if you can remember that: a pretty good game, no doubt, but did we really need to have Tetris wrapped around the surface of a ball?

March Entertainment's Cranky Cat does sometimes feel like an awkward variation on your standard match-three puzzle game, where the things that make it different are only there to be weird.

Still, it's smart, cheery, and colourful, and there's enough originality in the gameplay mechanics to make it stand out. The sheer amount of content it packs in certainly doesn't hurt, either.

Bad kitty

Set against a throwaway story and daft 1920s steampunk production values, Sir Roscoe J. Fluffington III's - or Cranky Cat to his chums - game is basically Columns wrapped around the surface of a ball.

You start with an array of coloured balls packed around a rotating point in the middle. More balls steadily drift in from all sides, and you have to spin the central array so that the new ones land next to matching colours. Match three or more and they disappear.

So far, so predictable. Cranky Cat also throws in the usual special pieces, like balls that explode or remove all balls of a particular colour.

There's the Story mode, where you muddle through each level trying to find the solution as fast as possible; Puzzle mode, where you get one ball to dismantle an entire preset layout; and three separate Endless modes.

Spin spin sugar

The art's nice enough, being clear and brightly coloured, and the jaunty big band score is always good for a smile. But what elevates Cranky Cat is the way rotating the level is actually used to add some real depth, not merely as a gimmick.

When you match three, any balls no longer connected to the rest of the playing field burst out in all directions. The depth comes from the way you can spin the field as they slowly sink back down. You can let them settle where they were, drop them in new places, or catch them before they reach the centre.

This is used to flesh out the other modes, too. Some of the puzzles demand extremely quick thinking, repeatedly spinning the level once your one ball has fallen into place. The three Endless modes are genuinely different, with balls that randomly appear / disappear and clusters of special pieces requiring even more thought to place them effectively.

Cranky Cat is definitely not that original, but it's the craft and the way it feels that'll tempt you back in to play, as much as the silly visuals or the hundreds of levels. Rovio, take note.
 
Cranky Cat
Reviewer photo
Matthew Lee | 28 July 2011
Cranky Cat may not be that original, and tries a little too hard to be different, but there's a surprising amount of depth to the way you play and a huge amount of content underneath
 
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