Like catnip for gamers.
There’s a near-unavoidable sense of sinking disappointment when you boot up a game and quickly realise that it’s taken almost all of its gameplay elements from earlier titles. In the case of Aqua Kitty UDX, it’s an arcade shooter very similar to the likes of classic arcade title Defender and, more recently, the PlayStation indie title Resogun. The action takes place within a confined looped space (meaning that if you travel to the edge of the right side of the map, you’ll come back onto yourself from the left side), shooting foes in all directions whilst working to ensure your kitty buddies remain safe from abduction. Thankfully however, despite the game taking minimal risks, its gameplay works really well and you’ll soon come to forget the games from which it takes inspiration.
As mentioned, your heroic kitty protagonist must navigate the depths of an admittedly shallow ocean and defend the kitty miners whilst they do their job on the sea bed. Robotic nautical creatures swarm the stages, and you must utilise a quick offensive strategy if you’re to complete the level with all kitties intact. Thankfully, there’s a handy map at the top of the screen that will display the level in its entirety. Grey dots represent standard enemies, whilst red dots represent enemies with the ability to capture kitties – it’s important to keep an eye on this throughout the stages, otherwise you might easily miss an occasion where a kitty (I’ve never used the word ‘kitty’ so much in my life…) is being captured on the other side of the map.
At your disposal, you have a standard automatic weapon that can easily deal with the basic enemies, and a more powerful weapon best left for the bigger foes. This requires a cool down period, so it’s best to avoid using this unless you really need to. Occasionally a boss character will also make an appearance, and these guys often boast armour, requiring you to focus your attacks on certain areas of their bodies in order to bring them down. Remarkably, despite the stages displaying an often overwhelming amount of enemies, the game never feels overly difficult, and you’re helped out even further by handy power ups throughout – one will gift you with kitty reinforcements, allowing you to cover a greater area with your weapons, whilst another will allow you to fire backwards as well as forwards, and so on.
You’ll spend the majority of your time in the game’s Classic Mode, which lets you progress through the game at your leisure with the ability to replay levels if you die. Arcade Mode is largely the same, but you’re gifted just one life to get as far as you can. Finally, Dreadnought Mode pits you against a large opponent whilst throwing waves of enemies at you, removing the objective to save the kitty miners entirely. There’s little to differentiate the game modes in terms of pure gameplay, but it’s nice to mix things up occasionally. You can also play every mode with an additional player if you wish, and this take’s advantage of the Switch’s awesome ability to bring in another player by simply splitting the two Joy-Con. Taking the game on with a friend increases the enjoyment even more, with the levels presenting an addictive quality that few other games possess.