Bombcats Review

Cats are animals of many talents. They can leap like frogs, bark like dogs, and manipulate human emotion by simply looking up at us with those big, wet black eyes. It also happens that some cats can even blow themselves up to save their offspring (not all cats—this is an important distinction). Chillingo’s Bombcats is a unique and utterly adorable physics puzzle game that introduces you to one such kindle of combustible kittens.

Bombcats has a story, but it’s a little baffling. Through a series of pictures, we learn that there’s some business going on with a magic wand and exploding cats. All you really need to know is that some kittens wind up in cages and your mission as an elder cat is to shatter the cages by blowing yourself up next to them.

Your rescue mission isn’t all about wanton destruction, though. You need to free the kitten in each stage and collect three sun icons before you’re allowed to move on (cats take their sun worshipping very seriously).

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To bounce around, you simply pull your cat back, make note of the trajectory he or she will launch at, and let fly. You’re allowed a certain number of “jumps” in each stage, and you’ll need to master the art of the mid-air jump if you hope to progress. This mid-air jumping mechanic helps separate Bombcats from the rest of the physics-based kitty litter on the App Store. Moreover, a stage doesn’t simply end when you break down a kitten’s cage: Oftentimes, the momentum generated by the kitty’s jailbreak will send it careening into a sun icon that is otherwise inaccessible for a grown-up cat.

Said grown-up cats have different abilities that help you surmount stage challenges. Fuzzball is a grey domestic cat with decent all-around movement. Clawdia is a lynx who can cling to walls. Bolt is a cheetah who can make long, quick jumps through his arid stages.

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Bombcats’ big-eyed protagonists are heart-meltingly cute, and the game’s option to take branching paths is a welcome change from the linear level progression that’s typical of puzzle games. Bombcats does suffer from one major drawback, however: You can only skip a level once every two hours unless you buy more skips via an in-app purchase. This is a frustrating limitation given that you’re not allowed to move on to a new level unless you gather up all three of the previous level’s sun icons and bust its captive kitten loose.

Worse, there are some timed levels that send you on five kitten-rescue missions in a row. If you screw up right at the end of mission five, you’re booted back to mission one. Rrreeorrw! Hisssss!

Despite these shortcomings, Bombcats is cute, unique, and fun. It’s definitely a recommended download for physics-based puzzle enthusiasts – even if you’re a traitor who loves dogs more than cats.

  • Josh Dombro

    Hahah you lost me at the onomatopoeia…

    Fun game though, it’s really sad that it hasn’t made much money and Radiangames looks like they’re shutting down because of it. The game does basically everything in the genre right, but it just doesn’t stand out enough I guess.

    I have to admit, I’m a dog person, but these cats are pretty awesome too…

    • http://twitter.com/nadiaoxford Nadia Oxford

      That’s really too bad about Radiangames. Bombcats is great, and most of the problems I have with it are a *direct* result of its FTP limitations. Looks like the studio will be even more aggressive about IAP’s to salvage the game, which I think is the wrong way to go. Yeah, you’ll reach more hands with FTP, but more and more people are digging their heels into the ground and saying “I will not download a FTP game” (let alone make IAP’s) because they’ve been burned so many times by shady monetization schemes. If I could make the call, I’d make the game .99 – 1.99, let the player skip as many levels as they want, and be done with it. That way, your revenue is guaranteed and players will be appreciative of not being “tricked” by the FTP formula.

      • Josh Dombro

        You’re totally right there – I think people are so averse to IAPs that any change will hurt them more than it helps, *unless* they’ve garnered enough sympathy in the last week or so. Even so, that only helps Radiangames, and specifically this game, it doesn’t solve the bigger problem. Yes, in hindsight Bombcats probably would’ve been better as a $.99 or $1.99 game, but if it did cost money I don’t think they would’ve had anywhere near the download volume they’ve seen.

        The whole situation frustrates me (and others I’m sure), and the App Store really feels broken to me. You have Clash of Clans reportedly pulling in $1 million a day, and then tons of great games like this making peanuts and going out of business. I get that it’s capitalism in action, but it doesn’t seem to be working.