Get it? Because cats are said to have 9 lives? I know, it’s lame, but when faced with the arbitrary decision of how many items to put on this list (5? 10? I’m told that’s the correct formula for list articles, at least according to the officials at Buzzfeed), I decided to “stick it to the man” and go with 9.
Here at Twinfinite, I’ve made no attempt at hiding the fact that I’m a cat-lady-in-training. So great is my love (some might call it obsession) for all things feline that I’ve gone out of my way to report news and preview games strictly because they involved cats. It was really only a matter of time before I’d write a feline-centric piece like this.
I should clarify that while many games have anthropomorphic human/cat hybrids (like the Khajiit in The Elder Scrolls or the titular protagonist in Blinx: The Time Sweeper), for the purpose of this list I’m gonna focus on games that feature regular felines doing what they do best: playing, eating, napping, and occasionally saving the world. So without further ado, here are my picks for the 9 best cat games ever!
9. No Luca No (Xbox 360)
Have you ever had to defend your meal from a food motivated feline? I know I have, which is perhaps why I appreciate this game so much. The objective is to protect your precious bowl of cereal from Luca, a kitty with her heart set on milk. You gently push her away, but cats have a one track mind when it comes to food, and Luca’s very tenacious: she gets the milk eventually, but the longer you hold out, the higher your score. I especially love the different ways Luca’s owner desperately pleads with her to stop, all to no avail because cats (Luca included) can’t understand the word “no.”
8. Chat Noir (Web)
The premise of this little turn-based flash game is elegantly simple, deceptively so: prevent the black cat from escaping the board by flipping tiles (which the kitty can no longer cross). Every turn you flip a tile, and every turn the cat takes a step closer to the edge. But don’t let its simple design fool you, this randomly-generated game is hard. Just when you think you’ve solved the puzzle and fenced her in, she’ll find the one opening you forgot and happily trot offscreen. Let me know if you ever beat it, cause I sure as hell haven’t. Although it could benefit from some music (I’m thinking jazz, or bossa nova), as a game it perfectly encapsulates the fickle, changeable nature of cats.
7. Time4Cat (Web)
As we all know, cats are experts at manipulating quantum mechanics (just think of Schrödinger’s plucky feline)! In this flash game, you play as a stray kitty who’s found a mysterious collar that controls the flow of time. Whereas us humans would squabble over the consequences of using time travel to alter past events, cats aren’t hung up on these “what if” scenarios. What I’m saying is a cat would travel back in time to kill baby Hitler, no questions asked. Fortunately for the integrity of our space-time continuum, all this stray kitty cares about is getting some food and not being stepped on. Its sequel, Time4MoreCat, is arguably even better, with improved graphics and 6 additional game modes, but both feature beautiful ambient electronic music and addictive gameplay.
6. ChatChat (Web)
Created back in 2012 by Terry Cavanagh (VVVVVV, Super Hexagon), ChatChat is, at its core, “a multiplayer game about being a cat.” The game’s instructions? Just “be a cat.” But what exactly does that entail? As you explore your territory, catching mice and evading dogs, you start to get the hang of it. You earn points by leaving dead mice as presents on the doorstep, but that’s not necessarily the goal of the game. If you prefer, you can play tag with the neighborhood dogs (when caught you turn into a dog, and you’re thus “it” until you tag another cat). Some of the best times I’ve had, though, are just interacting with my fellow “felines,” using various commands such as /meow, /purr, and /nap. To date, ChatCat is the closest thing we’ve got to a feline-themed MMORPG, and even 2 years later is one of the best “cat simulators” out there.
Set in an alternate reality where humans have gone extinct, domestic pets and zoo animals are left to run amok and fend for themselves in the overgrown ruins of Tokyo. A Darwinian dream/nightmare, this game’s all about survival: finding food (in the case of obligate carnivores like felines, this means hunting prey), defending yourself and your territory from predators, and (if you haven’t died yet) mating to produce offspring. In the Story mode, the only felidae you play as are lions, but domestic cats (and other big cats) are playable in Survival mode, which basically amounts to seeing how long you can go without being eaten. Tokyo Jungle is quirky, fun, and also surprisingly moving: if we were to disappear tomorrow, even domestic animals would adapt because (to quote Jeff Goldblum) “life finds a way.” That’s a heartening thought, don’t you think?
4. A Walk in the Dark (PC)
This is the only cat platformer, or “catformer” (trademark pending), to make the list. And it’s also quite possibly the prettiest. You play as a cat named Bast (no doubt a reference to the Egyptian goddess of cats), whose human (a little girl named Arielle) is spirited away by a monster while they are walking through the woods. To rescue her, you must use your dexterity and cat-like reflexes to run, jump, and slide through the shadowy and treacherous forest, filled with strange creatures and dangerous traps. I’m not gonna lie, it’s ridiculously hard at times, and requires requires an absurd amount of twitch timing. But its precise and fluid controls are “designed to make you feel like a cat,” and I can’t stress enough how much I love its beautifully dark aesthetic and haunting original soundtrack.
Oh man, Wake the Cat. I love this game so much. Possibly too much. Your goal is to wake an adorable, sleepy kitten by tossing her a ball of yarn. To do so, you must guide said yarn-ball through meticulously designed Rube Goldberg contraptions, featuring household items such as fans, slippers, and toy trains. Some of the puzzles are pretty straightforward, but others are more difficult and require extensive trial-and-error. You earn more stars for throwing fewer yarn-balls. Ideally, like in golf, you can wake the kitten with a “hole in one,” but this takes practice. With its easy-to-learn touch controls, challenging puzzles, and substantial replay value, Wake the Cat is a perfect example of what makes a mobile game not just good, but great.
Sushi Cat is one of the games that tugs on the ol’ heartstrings. I first played it years ago, when it originally came out on Armor Games. I was in college at the time, and it was my go-to game for study breaks, a little diversion between reading Foucault or writing essays. It became one of my favorite ways to procrastinate, and as such I have loads of nostalgia for it. Much to my surprise, years later when I got in on my iOS device, it was just as good as I remembered (and, in fact, is incredibly well-suited to touchscreen devices). You play as a lonely (and extremely hungry) little blue ball of fluff named Sushi Cat. To woo his beloved, he must make himself bigger, and the only way to do that is by eating tons and tons of sushi. Each level you must help him eat as much sushi as possible, and once you’ve eaten enough (“Full Belly Achieved”) you have the opportunity of eating “bonus sushi” for extra points. I’m a huge fan of its soundtrack, an infectious blend of Asian melodies and Reggae beats. But above all, Sushi Cat is a fun little game with a charming aesthetic and a sweet, silly love story. For the record, its sequels (Sushi Cat The Honeymoon, Sushi Cat 2, and Sushi Cat 2: The Great Purrade) are just as silly and adorable.
1. Catlateral Damage (PC)
Cats like to play, eat, and sleep, but what they love most is knocking things over for absolutely no fucking reason. Cats will break things for their own amusement, like true sociopaths, “just to see what would happen.” Which is why this game is so brilliant. A self-described “first-person destructive cat simulator,” Catlateral Damage lets you assume the role of a curious cat hellbent on destruction. Your goal? Try to rack up the highest score by knocking over and otherwise destroying as many of your owner’s possessions as possible in the allotted 2 minute time limit. Recently Greenlit on Steam, Catlateral Damage is currently in Alpha v5.0a, and the full version will include new levels, more objects to break, and additional game modes. Even as a demo, it’s a delightfully satisfying exercise in “not giving a fu–,” and of all the games on this list, it is the closest to being a true “cat simulator.”
So there you have it, my purrsonal (I’m so sorry) picks for the 9 best cat games thus far. But what do you think? Got any kitty-related games you think belong here? Let me know in the comments below!
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