Blade Kitten is a whimsical tale about Kit Ballard. She is the last of her species, sporting anime-cliché pink hair and a giant sword. This downloadable title sports a truly eye-catching look with not a lot of substance behind it. The story is confusing, the combat is simplistic and the level design certainly isn’t awe-inspiring, yet still I had a good time tearing through it. For being a downloadable title the production values are extremely high, but you still might want to take the demo for a spin before deciding to dive head-first into Krome Studios’ latest outing.
The story is a two-headed monster. It is told extremely well with in-game visuals and superb voice acting, but it is also full of cheesy dialogue (which was intentional) and a confusing plot. It seems to flow smoothly at the beginning, however the further you get into the game; you begin to realize how much padding was thrown in to make the game longer. Kit is constantly pausing her quest to help other characters, most of who initially are out to get you. While it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense the climax makes up for it with a nice “to be continued” cliffhanger that should keep fans of the comic and story coming back for more.
My biggest problem with the game though comes in the form of combat. While entirely competent it also suffers from being particularly shallow. There are only two attack buttons and a handful of moves. It can also get frustrating when enemies decide to stay outside of the 2D plane you are walking on and attack you from places you cannot retaliate. You can hold down the standard melee button for a shield and hop onto enemies’ heads to toss them around, but most combat boils down to mashing some buttons and hoping for the best. It is quite disappointing that a game with so much visual style falls short in such a pertinent category.
Platforming in the game works well even if the controls feel a bit floaty. Once you get used to Kit’s movement things smooth out quite a bit, but at first you will find yourself sailing over ledges and areas as she leaps from place to place. Kit can attach her claws to nearly any surface and scale it, making for plenty of hidden areas to explore. Literally levels can take ages to fully explore as the similar environments and multiple paths lead more to confusion than interest. All to find treasure chests that play host to more money you can use to purchase upgrades, costumes and of course new weapons.
The game does break up the monotony with a few vehicle-type levels where you are riding a Chocobo reject, but really does little else to differentiate itself from the initial concept. There are only a couple of major fights and the story loses steam about half-way through the campaign, which isn’t exactly epic in length to begin with. There isn’t much reason to come back either. Sure you could aim to find all the treasure chests to unlock that outfit for Kit that makes her look like Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (which is a nice Easter Egg), but beyond collecting money there is little to keep gamers coming back for more.
Where the game shines the most though is in the visuals. The art style of the title will be quick to separate it from the rest of the herd on XBLA. The colorful levels, characters and overall quirkiness of the world are definitely eye-catching. The frame rate takes a hit here and there, but it is never enough to hinder the overall experience. Voice acting is well done even if the dialogue is a bit cheesy. However, the soundtrack sounds like it was ripped straight out of the library for generic kung-fu tunes on a compilation CD.
Blade Kitten is far from an abomination. In fact it packs enough charm to make it worthy of a purchase for fans of the series, or action fans that enjoy the eccentric platformer. Kit is not going to become a household name anytime soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the second episode never gets a green light, which is a shame considering the cliffhanger ending. Still there is a certain charm in the game that kept me playing to the end, and that has to mean something during the busiest time of the year for gaming.
Review copy provided by publisher.