by Mat Ombler
previewed on PC
Pink haired catgirl. What's not to like?
If you haven’t read or heard of the Blade Kitten comics, you’d be easily forgiven. Making a stealthy leap from a largely unheard of comic page to the console, Blade Kitten throws you into the shoes, or rather paws, of a bounty hunter called Kit Ballard. Kit is part cat, part girl, with a taste for blood, tearing her enemies apart with her signature flying sword, the Darque Blade.
Things can get lonely being the sole survivor of an entire species, but Kit is accompanied on her journey by her sidekick Skiffy who lends a hand by helping Kit collect items, defeat enemies and solve puzzles. It’s not surprising to see that the game is heavily inspired by an anime art style, with Kit donning bright, spiky pink hair and coming fully kitted out with a pair of signature head goggles. The various locations in the game are as full of colour as you’d expect from a action/platformer by the developers of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger and the later Spyro games, resulting in an impressive and dynamic clash of cartoon colours and cel shading.
Colourful, frenetic visual style
Although only a small amount of the game has been shown off, Atari are already feeling confident that the game will be a success with avid platform gamers, stating that “Blade Kitten goes beyond most downloadable titles to deliver a strong narrative, with high-quality cinematics, and a colourful, frenetic visual style, that lends to the pick-up-and-play arcade action.” Atari have also leaked information on the game, saying that “Players will jump right in and easily begin exploring and fighting their way through 19 levels, including three exploration levels with Noot (a rideable alien mount). Blade Kitten also features innovative gameplay mechanics, intuitive "scramble style" exploration, fully voiced dialogue, dramatic narrative and a powerful distinct anime-inspired visual direction”.
The refreshing thing about Blade Kitten is that it utilises many different aspects that made the action/platform genre so successful in the first place. It’s not a generic “collect the 100 objects scattered round the level and you’ll advance to the next level” job, nor is it a relentless mess of pummelling the attack button until your right thumb is left looking like a battle wound; it’s something much more. Bosses that cover the whole screen chase you, tearing apart the landscape as you run through the level. A well thought through combo attack turns the action into a slick, slow-motion battle sequence, seeing Kit’s sword elegantly dance round and dispatch her enemies. Levels are intelligently designed, combining a healthy mix of classic platforming with action sections that require you to interact with the scenery around you, be it by blowing something up in the near distance or using Kit’s sword to your advantage.
It’s also refreshing to see an arcade game with a story as immersing as Blade Kitten. Trailers have already leaked amusing cut-scenes which tie in nicely with the game, revealing information about the planet “Hollow Wish” and how Kit's actions could end up affecting the entire world.
Atari haven’t yet released information about a specific release date, stating only that the game is set for a 2010 release, although the game is no longer set to be a PSN exclusive. With the game looking the way it is at the moment, I hope Krome Studio’s won’t try and do much more to turn a simple pick up and play action/platformer into a complicated mess of combos and dodgy chase sequences. Krome Studio’s latest release could become a major franchise like the Ty series, or they could breath the same “fresh” air as they did into the Spyro series, which could cruelly rob Kit of all nine of her lives.