Cat Scratch Fever! A doodly-doo!
The influence that Japanese animation (which I shall refer to as “animé” from here on out) has had on American popular culture is undeniable. We see it in almost everything: ads, comics, TV shows. But America has never been able to capture the full essence or style of the real McCoy. Blade Kitten is a prime example of that anime inspiration falling short of its actual potential.
[image1]Meet Kit Ballard, intergalactic pink-haired cat girl bounty hunter extraordinaire. She's perky, frisky, and oh-so-sassy and having one hell of a day. Fellow bounty hunters are trying to snatch her target, she's being hunted by the local privately-owned law enforcement, and to top it all off, there's a race of killer aliens invading. Sound a little convoluted? Well, that's because it is. The plot is extremely difficult to follow and seems to change its focus at the end of each level without resolving anything from the last one - it just leaves the story with a serious lack of polish.
The need for a spit-shine doesn't stop there, as graphically everything looks unfinished. Between the snow-capped mountains and crystal-laden mines of the game's environments, there is a decent amount of variety, but it's all very plain and the cel-shading gives it a shoddy look. On top of that, the attempt to add depth of field by putting objects in the foreground backfires and can really screw with your field of vision. The yellow-rimmed circle that surrounds you in order to see behind those areas doesn't function for certain things, such as rock formations you can climb that have stalagmites hanging in the foreground..
Some aspects of the game's design are cool, though. There are a lot shout-outs to old school sci-fi thrown in here and there, such as the creature you ride around on in some levels that looks like pink, hairless Tauntauns, and the gas dragons that hatch out of pods are reminiscent of the facehuggers in Aliens. But even the most brilliant influences can produce poor imitations.
[image2]Cut-scenes are poorly rendered as well and look like something made in a beginner's animation class. Why are everyone's eyeballs and skin so damned shiny? There is some serious shiny overkill going on here. The unfinishedness of it all is only compounded by the horribly delivered dialogue. Kit's exclamations of excitement lack all enthusiasm and her witty banter with NPCs falls short of porno dialogue standards. At least girls dressed up like cats in pornos are good at faking it.
Blade Kitten's gameplay revolves around exploring levels in search for treasure chests, hex coins, fluffy little animals, and data discs while getting involved in arbitrary fights with a limited variation of enemies. For nearly half the game you seem to only fight a militia of dudes in red armor with three varying attack styles, and it makes for a bland experience. There are certain points where you'll fight cooler things, like robots, but even then there's no real challenge to any of it. Really the key to this game is looking over every nook and cranny of the environment and even that gets old quick.
With all that said, there is a certain group of people that I feel this would make a decent game for: girlfriends who don't really play games, but maybe grew up with a SNES and have fond memories of their cute little loot-collecting excursions. If you are trying to ween a GF (or BF, never let it be said GR isn't progressive) on to modern consoles, this could be a great stepping stone, as the gameplay and graphics are just as simple as they were back in the day. But if you're a hardcore, experienced gamer, you may want to skip Blade Kitten in favor of playing with other pussycats.