Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche Review(Switch)
Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is a wild and crazy 2D ''space'' shoot them up made by the fine people over at Wayforward, who are responsible for hit titles such as Duck Tales Remastered and the Shantae series.
Take on the role of Kebako, an intergalactic bounty hunting cat girl(wtf) as she travels across multiple different themed stages with her trusted sidekick,Squiddie, as they take down insane and wacky criminals with A LOT of personality.
Oh boy. Where to begin with this one. The answer to the question of ''Is there a story'' is both yes and then also no, I'll try to somewhat explain. You see as Kebako your job is to take down multiple criminals who are threatening the galaxy in their very own unique ways and they all have some sort of connection with our kitty girl herself. You see our girl hasn't exactly been purrrect in any way shape or form and that's basically what the story itself stems from. That's as far as the story goes, no more and no less, you could mute your tv from all the voice acting and still not really miss what is happening with the game for the most part.
If you've played any 2D shoot em up ever in your past gaming history then you pretty much know what you're getting into with this game. You auto scroll right through a level while you dodge projectiles and other enemies in your path and just try not to die, simple enough? right? well.. this is where we once again get into a ''yes'' and ''no'' department.
On surface it seems like your straight up run of the mill 2D shoot em up but Wayforward has put some of their uniqueness into the game in regards to the enemy types and with the way each character is voice acted and all their lines of dialogue. What would've been a rather mundane experience otherwise, adding in the voice acting and the wackiness of everyone's characters, it actually keeps you engaged in the game itself through everyone's personalities.
Each level in this game is themed to a specific style, one level you have music related items/enemies with some atari references thrown in and other levels may be about ''just cute stuff'' or food related items. While on surface that seems rather tame, let me assure you this game is anything but tame. Each enemy design looks just as weird and over exaggerated as the level design itself does and that also perfectly matches up with the personalities of the main character kebako,who is loud mouthed,naive and hyper.
The enemy varieties vary on each level, there are no repeating enemies from level to level. Each level feels fresh and isolated from each other to where they're a new experience. One level you may have blue cloud looking enemies who explode with projectiles once destroyed and another level you have some random music bells that puts you in a tough spot by spawning multiple bullets to kill AS you're hitting them! That is SO not fair. It can leave your head ringing.
Now I know what you're thinking, ''enemies are great and all but where are the weapons, where are the power ups, answer me! NOW '' -flips table-
Calm down there buddy, were getting to that. But don't get too excited because the weapon variety in this game is rather ''eh'' I could say and not all of them are exactly useful to use. In this game you get multiple different weapons that range from tolerable to outright useless and I didn't see the point in every using them, in fact most of the time I would go out of my way to specifically dodge certain weapons just because I felt they hindered my game play more than they helped me in the long run.
By destroying a certain amount of enemies or specific enemies, they will drop these weapons in a form of a cartridge and these weapons range from Pea shooter,Arcade Gun,Dance Gun,Sports Gun,RPG Gun,Puzzle Gun,Platformer Gun. The pea shooter is the main default gun that you start the game with and one you're going to be using literally 95% of the time because its the most accurate weapon, but after the first two levels of the game, it does start to become a bit useless.
Arcade Gun is a gun that shoots a big cat styled pac-man out of its mouth and you can control what it eats by pressing ABXY to move it up,down,left or right. This is an extremely efficient long range gun and to me one of the more valuable weapons you can come across. Although it can be a bit slow to control so remember to dodge well while using it to compensate.
Dance gun, ugh this dance gun. This is one of the guns I absolutely despise. This gun is in the style and homage for DDR or music based games in general. Multi colored arrows will appear on the screen as you use it and you have to time your shots with each arrow key, but as you're paying attention to what arrows you're supposed to be looking at, you're also getting filled on screen with enemies clogging up the screen so you will without a doubt take some damage. Stay away from this gun at all costs, its not effective at all.
Sports gun, woohoo Golf Story, well kinda. This sports gun allows you to shoot golf ball projectiles across the screen and when shot they bounce around the screen for a short period and inflict damage on anyone it hits, these are really good to spam and this gun is highly efficient to use when your screen starts getting too clogged up with enemies to kill. Definitely a recommended gun for me.
RPG gun is probably the most unique out of all the weapons because its exactly what it states, a gun that gives you the power of an RPG. When equipped you can attack from a distance like an old style jrpg where you hit air and the enemy also takes damage. However, you will run out of mana for your attacks, so then you will have to switch to use magic,flee or even use a potion to heal yourself. Of course each action takes away mana slots from you, but all these abilities is what makes RPG gun easily the most balanced weapon in the game.
Finally we have Puzzle and Platformer guns, both are as straight forward as they sound, puzzle gun is homage to tetris like genres where you shoot out colored balls and if you match the right colors of 3 together, kabloom! explosion and death to all enemies in your area. But the gun loses its appeal as each colored ball you shoot gets stuck on each other and blocks not only your vision but your aim and shot as well. Then we have Platformer gun, you shoot a little 16bit looking guy out of your gun and he either runs into enemies or jumps and lands on them. This guy really reminds me of mario mixed with mega man. Its not very useful but its definitely entertaining to see.
With these weapons at your disposal, don't get too comfortable using them because just as you're getting used to using them all and finding out what works and what doesn't, the game is over as quickly as it started. There are only three total levels in the entire game, each ranging from 5-6 minutes depending on how many times you die. Each level ramps up the difficulty, for instance first stage is really easy and enemies die quicker as the game tries to get you accustomed to it and then second stage rolls along and it stops holding your hand as much, but then third level goes and throws everything but the kitchen sink at you and can kick your ass if you stop concentrating.
You're looking at a 15-20 min game tops when playing this and while I see that as pretty damn short for a side scrolling shoot em up game like this,i can see why this TYPE of game doesn't have to be any longer than that at the same time. You see the way this game is made is a mixture of homage and mockery. Through the main characters personality, she constantly references other games,other eras and just other randomly wacky stuff that you get that this game is just supposed to be short,to the point and out there completely. That's why even though its a very short game, the charm itself more than lives up to its game length. The developers werent going for much more than what it offers and I feel that is perfectly fine.
The boss battles in this game are easily the highlight of the game. Its what you need to play the game for. Each villain in this game has their own personal beef with Kebako and hate her for some reason(or love her). One guy is burning the entire galaxy for her because he loves her so much and wants them to be together, but she does him dirty and thano's his heart, ''i dont even know who you are''. You gotta be kitten me right meow, that's pretty harsh to do to someone with that much conviction in his love for you!
All 3 main enemies are similar as I mentioned above, all have their banter,own dialogue and conversations with Kebako as you fight. Each enemy also goes through 4 different form rotations,which change their attack patterns, so you have to stay on your toes and pay attention at ALL times, you can not afford to look away at any point or you will die and have to start the level all over again. So good luck.
At the end of the day I found Cat Girl to be a mixture of both really fun and really frustrating. On one hand you got some really good shoot em up game play with great voice acting, great enemy variety,great villains and characters, but this is hurt by some weapons that become more cumbersome than they need to be during situations where you may not want a certain gun and it will hinder your performance. Thankfully this is somewhat helped after you beat the game and you can play all 3 levels all over again but switch to any gun you want, but its definitely a problem your first playthrough.
Normally with the thoughts I put above, you would get hit with a ''Wait for a price drop'' logo, but since this game will only run you $8 on Nintendo Switch Eshop, I feel thats more than justifiable for a game this length and would recommended it to anyone who likes their games to be short,sweet,and crazy because this is a shoot em up with a lot of personality.
Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is out now on Nintendo Switch Eshop
-Review code provided by WayForward