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Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Dakko Dakko
Developer: Dakko Dakko
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

So yeah. The Wii U is still around, despite being outmatched on nearly every conceivable level at this point by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (not to mention modern gaming PCs). With Nintendo's current gen hardware floundering in the wake of its competitors, it's difficult to get excited about much that the once-great company has in store for us. But here we are with a little downloadable title called Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails. Think about that title for a second. What do you think of? Something girly with absolutely no appeal to the self-styled "hardcore gamers" who claim Nintendo has left them in the dust? Put those thoughts away: this is one of the most brutally difficult games I've played in a while, and remember: I recently reviewed Dark Souls II.

Visually, Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails reminds me of some of Sega's animal-centric games of the past. Particularly, Chu Chu Rocket. The game has a very slick presentation that rests comfortably between retro and modern, and it boasts an animated aesthetic that is reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon. The action on the screen is fast, furious, and colorful, and smart use of color patterns make it abundantly clear where Buddy should and should not go. Personally, I found it the perfect kind of game to play exclusively on the Wii U Gamepad; every time I tried to look at the TV screen, I'd get either intimidated by the size of the levels or distracted by the "newscast" that frequently pops up to give you advice or offer commentary on the carnage.

Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails sounds great, though you won't really be reflecting on the sound design at all while you're smashing your Wii U Gamepad against the ground in frustration. The synth-based soundtrack gets the job done, but won't win any awards. But really, it's perfect for a quick fix game like this. Shuttling along the rails sounds like it should, and the energy-based weapons Buddy uses sound fine. Get used to the "ow!" sound, though: you're going to hear quite a lot of it.


Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails is an action/ platformer/ shooter hybrid that takes the idea of the platformer and turns it on its head. As Buddy, your job is to rescue a number of cats in each level. But here's the catch: your only means of locomotion is a special vehicle that only attaches to the rails that outline the only accessible areas in the game. Want to jump down a particular pit to get to a captured kitty? Well, if there's no rail permitting you to do so, too bad. You'll have to find another way.

Buddy's got stiff resistance, and they aren't confined to the rails. Most of these bad guys can go absolutely anywhere, which means the odds are definitely stacked against you. Buddy can only shoot at what's directly in front of him, so you have to think ahead and position yourself to where Buddy can actually take a shot at what's trying to take him out. I've only scratched the tip of the iceberg; there are so many variables that make the game more complicated, but I'll get into that later.

Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails makes use of an overworld, much like the platformers of days long past; rescuing kitties is the only way to unlock new areas, which means that you'll be revisiting completed levels just to make sure you've completed absolutely every challenge that they have to offer.


Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails is a brutal, thoroughly hardcore experience from the get-go. It starts hard and only gets worse from there. Actually conquering these stages provides a tremendous level of satisfaction, but there will almost always be a good deal of pain and suffering before you finally save that last cat. Buddy's restrictions to viable rails combine with the agility and freedom of movement of his enemies to make an incredibly bitter witch's brew. Downing it can be incredibly unpleasant, but coming out of it alive makes you feel almost godlike -- think the Water of Life from Frank Herbert's Dune.

One thing the game could have done a much better job of is explaining the mechanics. There is no tutorial to speak of, and the game simply dumps you into its twisted gauntlet with nothing but your own wits and your own adaptability. Getting a feel for your own strengths and weaknesses is different in Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails, and there's definitely a physics system to learn your way around. If you don't, you'll be launching into uncontrollable orbits and end up careening into one of the game's many, many hazards.

Game Mechanics:

One of the key mechanics in Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails is that of launching Buddy's vehicle into a spinning rocket jump. This maneuver is devastating to enemies, but is also of paramount importance in locomotion. It can be a very difficult move to pull off, which is somewhat damaging to the game's playability. You see, the rail Buddy is closest to will affect a gravitational pull onto him. Learning how to manipulate these physical forces on the fly is one of the hardest parts of Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails, and it's rarely predictable, on top of that.

Not all rails are created equal, and you'll have to learn that lesson very quickly, lest you be utterly destroyed. Some rails act as conveyor belts which rapidly shuttle Buddy across them in a certain direction. Other rails, marked with danger tape, must never be touched at all. Combine these hazards with all the enemies flying around at once, and you've got one of the hardest games in recent memory.

Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails is most definitely not for everybody, but its audience should automatically know that already. This game is for the masochists who like to see how long they can play a game without blinking, for those who want the bragging rights to be able to say "I beat Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails." Of course, most people would look at someone who said that like he/she was crazy, but those of us in the know would be stunned into silence.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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