Luke Schneider of Radiangames has created some of the coolest bite-sized shooters I've played, starting with Xbox Live Indies and then graduating to mobile platforms. Just check out the Radiangames tag here at Kotaku and see how much well-deserved love we've given him. Radiangames latest doesn't hit iOS until tomorrow, but I can't wait for tomorrow -- Bombcats is a mobile physics puzzler that breaks the mould.
If you've played any other physics puzzler on iOS, you know the mould of which I speak. Here is a set of X levels. Earn Y amount of stars in those to unlock another set of X levels. It was convenient, but it's quickly become a crutch, an accepted norm that developers use to keep them from accidentally stumbling across anything new and creative.
At first glance, Bombcats looks like any other fling a thing at another thing game. In fact the look is so typical of the genre that at first I didn't realise it was a Radiangames title. Where is the glowing neon? How could I possibly control this with twin sticks?
It's definitely different from Schneider's previous work, lovely bits of neon arcade goodness that weren't particularly concerned with mainstream app gamer appeal. Bombcats, on the other hand, is exactly the sort of game that mobile gamers flock to: colourful cartoon critters, easy single-finger controls, the low price of free and a simple goal.
Kittens are trapped, and it's up to the Bombcats to save the day by exploding. Players have a set number of throws (and a limited time -- those tails are fuses) in which to get close enough to the trapped kittens to set them free in a fiery blast
Several different Bombcats are unlocked as the player progresses. From the initial exploding critter (Fuzzball) we unlock Clawdia, who sticks to walls. Then we get Bolt, with cheetah speed. Then comes Tygra, who blows up obstacles with a touch. I've got a long way to go to complete everything Bombcats has to offer, so I'm sure I'll meet more of the fuzzy explosive bastards along the way.
It's progression where Bombcats differs from other physics puzzlers. Rather than a set of static missions, the Bombcats has a branching world map, filled with optional challenges, speed runs, and special unlocks. One can simply move from one puzzle to the next without exploring side missions, but there's so much to unlock and discover across the game's 190 levels, it would be a shame to pass anything up.
And there's one other important way that Bombcats sets itself apart -- it's free-to-play. Not free-to-play as in constantly assaulted with requests for your cash money. You can play through the entire game without being bugged. There are no ads or timers. There are traditional free-to-play mechanics, but they aren't in-your-face.
Plus, at any given time a player can spend $US3.99 for Old School Mode, which locks out all non-permanent in-app purchases and modifies gameplay balance accordingly. If you've ever player a free game and wished there was an option to just purchase it as a premium title, here that is.
Bombcats is not what I expected from Radiangames -- a cartoonish, family-friendly physics puzzler instead of a glowy, twitchy shooter. It's also exactly what I expected from Radiangames -- a solid, incredibly entertaining experience that doesn't compromise depth for accessibility's sake.
- Genre: Physics Puzzle Platformer
- Developer: Radiangames
- Platform: iOS (May 16), Android (Coming Soon)
- Price: Free