Thanks to the low price of mobile games, I regularly download new titles without seeing as much as a single screenshot. Many of those sight-unseen games follow the Angry Birds scoring formula — smash, achieve or collect the things you need on each level, earn three stars, gems, flowers, whatever.
Generally I don't get past the first few levels of these puzzle platformers, so completely saturated with them that by the time I start two-starring levels I have absolutely no motivation to continue. What makes MetroGames Mittens any different?
I'll admit a large percentage of Mittens' appeal, for me, is the game's style. The story of an alley cat (you can tell by the perfectly circular bit out of his ear) attempting to woo a more sophisticated female specimen with presents, Mittens hearkens back to the golden age of cartoon animation, when characters like Sylvester the cat and Wyle E. Coyote would spend episode after episode attempting (and failing) to achieve the same goal. Back then the idea of a cat attempting to secure a bottle of milk or a balloon for his girlfriend could carry an entire series of cartoon shorts. Mittens reminds me of those classics.
Kids these days, with their Ben 10s and their Transmorphers, I swear.
Mittens captured me with its old-school animation style, but that's not enough to hold me. No, for that you need cleverly-designed levels that play out like whimsical Rube Golderg creations. The first set of 25 levels (20 plus 5 bonus levels) sees Mittens launched into the air via steam vents, launched off windows opened by nosy neighbors, bouncing off overhangs and sliding down ramps. The player participates by slicing wooden platforms, opening the aforementioned windows with a tap, opening those steam vents or pulling back television antennae to send our feline hero flying through the air.
The rooftop setting of those levels could easily carry the whole game, but MetroGames' mixes it up with the circus-themed second set, adding roller-coaster cards, flying trapeze, cannons and performing monkeys with inflatable bellies perfect for bouncing.
The overall effect is that I'm wandering through the history of a classic cartoon that never was. From rooftops to circus to mouse cave, each 'episode' has its own distinct gameplay elements. The first add-on, available for a $.99 in-app purchase, kicks off with an entirely new mechanic, promising that future updates will continue to expand on the concept.
To be honest, I downloaded Mittens because the app icon was a cat. I keep playing it because it's a damn fine game.
And it has a cat.