By Makeda Byfield
Consider yourself a cat purr-son? Have you been super busy and need to take a paws? Looking for a fun, low-stakes game with adorable kitties, endless mini-games, and lighthearted & spirited mewsic? Then let me direct you to Apple Arcade’s “Kimono Cats”!
My apologies for all the corny cat puns. I just can’t help myself. HumaNature Studio’s Kimono Cats has been such a delight to play! The studioitself has a strong history, producing games like Doki-Doki Universe and ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Grove. This mobile game is pretty simple as it focuses on your cat and their companion cat, which your feline is determined to woo. Players can do this by throwing darts and hitting prize bubbles that float above your two lovable animals while they walk down Kyoto Road. By hitting and popping bubbles, players might instantly win a prize or trigger a mini-game; your performance can impress the companion! Be wary though; pop the wrong bubble, and you might just end up “gifting” your companion rotten snacks or scaring them with “bad guys,” who appear on the road ahead of you. While these mistakes can cause your companion to like you less and garner an eye roll or lost points, the consequences of this action are usually short lived and forgotten by the time you win another prize (and I found that this effort usually only takes you a few more seconds.)
Kimono Cats feels like a summer fair or festival that features classic games like whack-a-mole (with Japanese masks instead of moles), card matching games, and more. I particularly enjoyed “dango-catch,” a mini-game that required players to catch falling Japanese dumplings on a stick. The mini-games usually correlated with the stands that your two cats pass while walking down Kyoto road. As you unlock more levels, your cats grow closer and explore other parts of the road. The games are similar, and to my recollection had no significant change in difficulty. If anything, some seemed a bit more challenging to me at first, but with light work and practice, they became easier – and somehow relaxing! Oh, if only everything in life could be this calming. This aspect of the game is one of the things that made it so relaxing. And I still never got bored because the change in setting every so often helps it feel much less repetitive.
Kimono Cats isn’t just mini games, however. In the opening sequence, your cat views an empty strip of land that they hope to transform into a village worthy of the wooed one’s attention. Players can use coins earned from the mini-games to buy a randomized item in the village shop. These prizes (usually broken into categories like houses, businesses, shrubbery and characters) can be used to customize your village. Does your companion ever see this village? So far, this hasn’t happened. However, other players might visit your town and leave ratings, which helps you win more darts to use while walking down Kyoto Road.
One of Kimono Cat’s best aspects is that it’s fairly easy to gain the tools needed to continue gameplay. I ran out of darts only once; however, all players are given a metal detector, which they can use to find arrows/darts in their village. In just a few minutes, I was able to gain enough arrows to continue with the mini-games.
The only thing I’m on the fence about with this game is whether or not the narrative needs to be more clear and/or detailed. Kimono Cats sparked a debate between me and my siblings. Do all games need a point, or is it ok for game makers to put out nearly mindless, stress-free games? Usually I’d vote for the latter; sometimes, we need games or art that are “just vibes” (as my sister likes to put it). Why add more stress to people’s lives when it’s not needed? Gaming is supposed to be fun, and Kimono Cats was just that. But with the $4.99 Apple Arcade subscription fee that was needed to play the game, I can’t help but wonder if Kimono Cats needed something more to justify the cost – especially if you subscribed just to play this one game.
Yet I thoroughly enjoyed the game. It was a great play during work breaks or on a (very rare) easy-going weekend. However, I wasn’t able to use the multiplayer mode because I just couldn’t see why I should convince my siblings to buy an apple arcade subscription for this game alone. The only benefit either of us would’ve gotten was the ability to view each other’s village and occasionally give each other darts. But with so many other ways to do this, we all decided that it wasn’t worth downloading the game on multiple devices. Had they wanted to play, I most likely would have just let them use my ipad.
Overall, Kimono Cats is pretty paw-some! If you already have Apple Arcade, then definitely check it out! But if you don’t already have a subscription, then I can’t say that this is the game that should make you get one. It’s very enjoyable, but there’s not enough to it.
Makeda is a senior intern who shines in her writing, of course. But she also shines through her interviews or her Co-Hosting of the NY Game Awards.