How does a shoot-em-up stand out amongst the swathes of entries into the genre which exist on the Switch eShop?
It’s a really hard ask. Some developers have chosen to remaster the timeless classics of the past. Others have gone the opposite route, making something all-new, blending the past and present for a super high-performance effort with new ideas and qualities to have their game stand alone on its own merit. Neko Navy – Daydream Edition, from Fruitbat Factory, thinks a little outside the box. All of these shooters make use of some manner of futuristic spacecraft, right? There can only be one solution: Let’s change them into cats.
Yup, this is a game which plays exactly like your regular side-scrolling shooters, except you’re controlling a flying feline instead of a super high-tech ship. You have three of them to choose from at the start – Mugi is a green cat who fires a medium range of spray, Miracle fires a twisting, rotating stream pretty much directly in front, and Chiyoko has the widest range. Shooting enemies generates blue cats, which can be collected to up your score, and they also power up a super attack which in the case of Chiyoko pretty much obliterates everything on-screen.
There are three difficulty options in the game’s main Arcade Mode – Easy, Hard and Death. The game has separate leaderboards for each of the difficulty levels, as well as one for the game’s other main mode, an endless high-score affair. Pitched as an easy-peasy course for beginners, the Easy mode is still quite the test. With the game split into themed levels named ‘days’, you can expect to see different types of enemies in each, with some levels combining enemies for an even more chaotic challenge.
The tactics of the game lie in when to use the super ‘bomber’ attack with the B button – that’ll usually be when you’re stuck under heavy fire, as the bomber attack will transform any incoming fire into valuable jewel-like objects to quickly increase your score. The other, more dangerous way of racking up a score is to get up close and personal to enemies while picking them and accrue ‘brave’ points. Fear not – you can hold down the standard shooting button for the entirety of levels, and your only real worry will be about strafing to avoid incoming enemy fire.
To be fair, Neko Navy – Daydream Edition is pretty good as far as shoot-em-ups go on Switch, and there’s a challenging level of difficulty present in spite of the game’s cutesy appearance. Enemies being based upon a wide range of household and everyday objects can bring a decent chuckle, as can the end-boss in level three (spoilers). There appeared to be something funny going on with the leaderboards at times, though – if you’ve made it onto the top ten, the game will ask for your initials, and your score will display a date on the leaderboard table itself, but I sometimes found that my score was not appearing. That was a little weird.
Elsewhere, the shooting is competent, and things are kept simple enough to avoid warding off those that want something they can pick up and play with ease. The game doesn’t reinvent the wheel – it’s simply more of a cute attempt by the developers to inject some humour into an otherwise fairly monotonous genre. With plenty of high-score replay value, this one’s worth a look.
Neko Navy - Daydream Edition £9.89
Neko Navy – Daydream Edition adds some humour into the tired shooter genre by replacing spaceships with flying cats. It’s an unusual experience and doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is a competent shooter with plenty of replay value.