A game by Dakko Dakko for Wii U, PS4 and Vita, originally released in 2014.
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails is a peculiar game, featuring a rail-riding fellow named Buddy who uses a magnetic “Spinboard” to slide around the edges of a space station, hopping away from the edges in platforming challenges, and blasting away at evil kidnapping mice. Apparently, the mice of the world have risen up against the cats, abducting them and bringing them aboard an orbital laboratory. Fortunately, one of the abducted cats – named Scram – has a friend who breaks into the station to rescue him and all of the other hapless kitties.
You take on the role of Buddy, navigating the environment with a rather unconventional control scheme. Buddy’s Spinboard is magnetically attached to the wall, forcing him to move through the environment by sticking to the edges of various structures. Controls are screen relative, rather than character relative, so pressing LEFT or RIGHT moves you left or right along rails, but when you move around a corner, you have to press the stick in the desired direction to continue moving. It is not possible to change this control scheme.
Your Spinboard comes equipped with a pair of rapid fire machine gun turrets that are locked perpendicularly to your position along the wall, allowing you to fire in a straight line away from the wall. This requires some non-traditional maneuvering on the part of the player, as he may need to slide away from an enemy and move into a corner in order to properly aim his shot. NB: The developer has since released a patch that allows players to move and fire independently. Holding the FIRE button lets off a steady stream of projectiles, although players are able to fire somewhat more quickly by mashing the button instead.
Buddy is able to jump away from the wall a short distance, with a variable 2x jump, and you can double-tap the JUMP button to smash down into the ground and make a large bounce jump. While bouncing, the Spinboard becomes engulfed in flames, damaging any enemies you make contact with and allowing you to cross large gaps and transfer from one structure to another.
As the game goes on, you are tasked with using this bounce ability to complete complex platforming challenges. Because you are magnetically attracted to walls, some of these challenges center on building up speed and bounce-jumping to a distant platform, or even slingshotting yourself around the outside of a circular structure. However, bouncing is a bit imprecise, and it is difficult to perform bounce jumps to reach a specific height as is sometimes required to overcome certain obstacles, particularly when facing time-based challenges.
You also need to take into account your magnetic pull, which is indicated by a red line that connects back to the point where you jumped away, and the color of the line shifts from orange to yellow as this connection is strained. It is possible to lose the magnetic connection altogether by jumping very far away from a platform, at which point you will be placed back in your last safe position with no penalty.
Additional environmental challenges come in the form of special rails with different qualities. Rails marked with arrows will push you quickly along in the indicated direction and prevent you from jumping. Early on, these rails are in place as a barrier to prevent you from moving outside of a specified area, but they are later used in some challenges that require you to jump over them to avoid being pushed back and losing a bit of progress. Certain rails will harm you outright if you touch them, requiring the player to find a new route, or make large bounce jumps to get over them. There are also slick low friction rails that cause you to slide around and make it more difficult to maneuver past spikes and other obstacles.
Several additional weapons are available beyond your default machine gun, and these may be found by grabbing their respective icons within the level. Once a new weapon is unlocked, the player is free to swap between them at will. However, collected weapons do not carry over from one level to the next, so players will return to their default machine gun every time they enter a new level.
Weapons include a laser that must be charged up before it can be used, but it’s very powerful and can take down enemies quickly, including some that are immune to your standard machine gun fire. A plasma burner gives you a continuous spray of deadly blue flame, but its range is limited, starting out with a very short reach and eventually extending to a medium range. This flamethrower effect allows you to swat down popcorn enemies with ease and it also absorbs projectiles. Lastly, there are missiles that shoot outward from the sides of the Spinboard. This weapon is a bit difficult to use, but it allows you to shoot around corners, attack enemies indirectly, and even destroy enemies along the rail, which is not possible with any other weapon. All weapons cause the player to move more slowly while they are being fired, and they also push you backward against the rail.
There are four different kinds of kitties to be rescued in each level. First off, there is the lazy cat, which always waits for you at the exit, and it is automatically collected when you leave the level. In most levels, you are free to go straight to the exit, although a bit of exploration is usually required in order to find it. However, some levels do require that you complete certain challenges before moving to the exit, such as activating switches to remove laser barriers, or finding a weapon that allows you to destroy certain types of blocks.
Lucky cats appear in the form of traditional white Chinese lucky cat figurines that are meant to bring good fortune or wealth. Lucky cats are revealed by collecting the 100 gold pennies spread throughout the environment, thus rewarding players who thoroughly explore each area. Sometimes pennies can only be found by performing a high bounce jump at the edge of the environment, and some are only revealed by killing a set of enemies in a confined area. There are also a handful of breakable walls that may hide pennies, other cats, or even the Mouse Commander.
The Mouse Commander is a tough enemy that appears when you reach a certain area in the environment, at which point an alarm will sound and the enemy will fade into view. These areas are unmarked, so there is no way for the player to know when they are about to encounter this enemy, although the player is free to leave the area, as the Mouse Commander can only patrol a certain distance away from its spawn point. The Mouse Commander moves in to attack the player, tossing projectiles and slowly advancing on the player’s position before disappearing after a few seconds, only to reappear again a few seconds later. The Mouse Commander can absorb a ton of damage before it is destroyed, at which point the black cat will be revealed.
Lastly, there is the scaredy cat. Scaredy cats are usually fairly easy to find, but they’re hard to catch. When you touch one, it spins and flies off the side of the screen to another point in the environment. The player must reach the cat’s new location before a timer runs down or the cat will return to its original position. Grabbing the scaredy cat before the timer runs down causes it to fly off the screen yet again to another location. Only after grabbing the cat multiple times does it move to the exit to be collected when you leave the level. Because the scaredy cat can move to just about any point in the environment, it is advisable to complete all of the other challenges in the level before attempting to collect it. If you do not, you may find that the cat has moved to an inaccessible location or that it is surrounded by enemies.
With four cats to rescue and sizeable environments to explore, it can take a long time to complete a level, and cats only count as being rescued if you find them and make it to the exit. The player starts each level with three units of health, with a maximum of six available. Health pickups – each of which restores one unit of health – are sometimes found by exploring the level, and sometimes dropped by killing enemies. Getting killed forces you to start the level from scratch, potentially resulting in a great deal of lost progress. If you are in danger of being killed, you are free to make your way to the exit and leave the level with just the cats you have collected.
Fortunately, not all cats are required to progress through the game, or even to make it to the end. A world map is made up of interconnected rooms with a number over each door indicating how many rescued cats are required in order to open it. As such, players are free to play many levels in any order they like, skipping some levels altogether and returning to previous areas at will. A cat head icon appears over any level on the world map where all four cats have been rescued, while moving around the world map shows which specific kitties remain to be rescued in each level.
Different areas of the space station have different themes, as indicated by their color codes and level names on the world map. Some areas feature tighter corridors, while some feature wide expanses of interconnected circular pylons, and some are populated with armored turrets and flying ships that have specific weak points.
Levels in the main game are not timed, leaving you generally free to explore the environment, although there are certain enemies that will respawn every time you get near them, making this a somewhat risky endeavor. Most enemies spawn in giant swarms that move in on your position, making it difficult to avoid them while also attempting to find an advantageous position from which to shoot them. A separate challenge mode is available where players must engage levels under a time limit, attempting to grab as many kitties as possible before the timer counts down.
The game features a somewhat odd presentation, using the Wii U gamepad as the primary viewing screen, while the television – which is entirely optional – shows a wider view of the area and dynamically moves the camera based on your position. This wider dynamic view may be swapped with the view on the Wii U gamepad, although the tighter fixed view allows players to use the right analogue stick to look around slightly beyond the edges of the screen. The television also displays TV news-style announcements (with a Scram as the reporter) to provide tips or comment about what is going on in the game, usually obscuring the action in the process. Thus the view on the television is really meant more for spectator purposes. From a graphical standpoint, all of the character and foreground artwork is in 2D, and there is a 3D effect that extends into the background, usually coming into play as enemies slowly scale up from the background layer to engage the player.
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails was developed as a Wii U-exclusive title by Dakko Dakko, a developer based in South Wales. Dakko Dakko was launched in 2010 by Rhodri Broadbent, who previously worked at Q-Games. The studio later added producer Dan Croucher, who previously worked on the Buzz! series, as well as programmer Thomas Volbrecht, who previously worked on Soul Bubbles. The studio also employs the talents of pixel artist Gary Lucken.
The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character
Dakko Dakko has previous experience creating a game where players move around the edges of the environment… The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character (later released as The HD Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character) features an octopus that sticks to the sides of objects in the environment and must navigate by rolling around corners and jumping between objects.
The rotating octopus is constantly spinning and therefore constantly moving along the walls. Players can halt the character temporarily to change directions, and must take into account the character’s spinning direction when jumping from one platform to another.
The octopus is on a quest to rescue little baby octopi which are spread around various landscapes, ranging from gardens to cities. Each level has a set number of octopi to be rescued, with new octopi being added to the playfield as rescues are made. Players must avoid hazards like giant dogs and flaming enemies while also jumping between moving objects like busses and people holding umbrellas.
Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims
Dakko Dakko continued to display their penchant for quirky and lengthy game titles with Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims, which features a peculiar take on the shmup genre. Rather than simply blasting away at enemies, the Floating Cloud God must protect his followers, a group of eight pilgrims who walk along a path below him.
The pilgrims are more than just wandering health units, however, as destroying powerful enemies and chaining together attacks causes hearts to rise up from the pilgrims below, and these hearts increase in size as you wreak more destruction on your foes. You may then fly through these hearts to harvest the love of your followers and increase the strength of your projectiles.
The Cloud God can fire off a wild spray of projectiles from his palm, and he can drop projectiles straight down from the bottom of the cloud on which he rides. Destroying enemies quickly is the key to keeping the pilgrims alive, as they may be killed by enemy projectiles or be abducted by certain demonic foes. Cosmetically enhanced pilgrims are awarded for guiding your flock safely to the finish line, while losing all of them will send you back to the start of the level to try again.