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).
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.
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.