Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender (PC Version)

For new Indie Gamer Chick fans, meet Miko, aka Sabriel, the next Indie Gamer Chick. Heir to my throne. A passionate and talented gamer, and one of my dearest friends. Follow her on Twitter

The world’s milk supplies are running out, and the cats must do something or suffer from the loss of their most precious resource. In a bold, some would say crazy, maneuver, they are taking to the depths of the ocean to mine for milk and save the world.

aquakitty01Ridiculous story, yes, but this arcade shooter is fun to play. Covered by the Indie Gamer Chick herself last July, she describes it perfectly in that it’s a Defender clone both in waves of enemies, a radar to show you where the action is off-camera. And protecting ur mans from being taken away. Here you’re attacked by waves of mechanical enemies who are trying to take you out and trying make off with kitties who are manning (kittying?) the milk pumps that lay at the bottom of the ocean. Once you complete a stage, you’ll head to the map screen which records your high scores and allows you some freedom as to which area you head to next.

aquakitty03There are two game modes: 1) one where your upgrades are automatic after each stage and can restart from the same stage if you die; and 2) one where you are able to choose your upgrade as you collect power-ups within stages but start over from the beginning if you die. I spent some time with both and discovered that I don’t prefer one over the other; each has its place and is fun in its own ways.

In later stages, enemies come at you at a very fast pace which leads to pure chaos. You are, however, rewarded if you can make combos with careful use of explosive fish to blow up enemies. The higher of a chain you can make, the more points you’re rewarded with, and larger chains have the added side effect of making your life easier as you take out massive amounts of enemies at once.

I really love the chiptune music in this game and have even been listening to it outside of the game. You can find the music on SoundCloud here if you’d like to have a listen: https://soundcloud.com/electriccafe/sets/aqua-kitty-milk-mine-defender

aquakitty02This is where I normally rail on some annoying, horrible mechanic that was designed purely to piss me off. I’ve got nothing, really. I like this game a lot, and it’s a great homage the SNES era. The graphics are pretty, the music is awesome, and it felt appropriately difficult on its own merit rather than me fighting the system. I’ve got little but praise for this game and felt it worth the price.

Time and game allowing, I’ve also decided to start recording and posting videos of me playing the games I review as well. If you’re so inclined, you can watch me playing here: Miko playing Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender

Out for PC, 360, and PS Vita, Aqua Kitty—Milk Mine Defender is a cute little arcade shooter that is too good to pass up.

kittylogo

Aqua Kitty—Milk Mine Defender was developed by Tikipod.

IGTlogo-01The game costs $6 to $7 on a multitude of platforms, and I just wrote an article about milk pumps without talking about boobs.

Aqua Kitty is the first game to earn both a Seal of Quality from Miko and Cathy. Congratulations to Tikipod!

This is for Hypership. For Abduction Action! Plus, picture Sweetie with pock marks on her face, blood dripping out of her nose, the stench of death on her, with skulls and crossbones all around the edges saying "not approved for any use besides enhanced interrogation."

The first Miko-Cathy double sealed game!

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Aqua Kitty

It’s strange how Defender, one of gaming’s iconic titles of the Golden Age of arcades, hasn’t been cloned to death by modern indie developers.  I’m cool with that.  Having played an endless supply of uninspired-inspired neo-retro games, I’m not keen on seeing Defender done wrong.  Still, how did Defender fall through the cracks?  Here’s a game that was predicted to be a huge bust, but went on to become the seventh-best selling coin-operated game ever.  Maybe it’s because it was eclipsed by Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.  Or maybe because Defender’s track record since its original release has been mediocre at best.  It got one of the laziest sequels of all time (which was called “Stargate” because of some legal posturing by Williams.  James Spader was unavailable for comment).  There was an unofficial sequel by Midway that nobody I’ve spoken with has ever played.  There was an all-but-forgotten update to the format on Atari Jaguar of all systems, which means it probably sold like six copies.  And finally, there was a 2002 3D remake for sixth-generation consoles that quickly found its way into clearance bins.  Your average child actor has a more graceful flame-out than Defender has had as a franchise.

You know, for a spry young whippersnapper with a reputation for hating classic games, I sure do seem to have a love for Defender.  I even have a Defender homage in my top 25.  Then again, Orbitron: Revolution only mimics the flight and shooting mechanics of the arcade classic.  You’re actually not defending anything.  So I guess it’s not really Defender.  More like Aggressor.  Was there a game called Aggressor?  No?  Well, there ought to have been.

Aqua Kitty on Xbox Live Indie Games.  AKA the really good version.

Aqua Kitty on Xbox Live Indie Games. AKA the really good version.

If you’re looking for a modern Defender-based indie, Aqua Kitty is probably a closer knock-off.  I still prefer Orbitron’s faster pace and modern graphics.  But let it be said, Aqua Kitty is a damn fine game.  You’re a cat in a submarine that must defend little aquanauts while shooting wave after wave of enemy.  And the cat smokes a pipe, which means he’s one cultured pussy.  But, other than the setting and a couple of power-ups, this really is Defender.

Despite being a bit on the bare-bones side, Aqua Kitty is really well produced.  I played both the XBLIG and PlayStation Mobile versions.  I prefer the XBLIG port, which plays faster.  The Vita version has the advantage of being mobile, but it seems clunkier in both framerate and controls.  Don’t get me wrong: it’s still a pretty good game.  But I would go with the XBLIG port.

It’s not perfect by any stretch.  What really bugs me about Aqua Kitty is the total lack of ambition.  Defender is an old formula in need of renovation.  Aqua Kitty does some things to smooth that over, but it’s just not enough.  Turbo shots?  Good idea.  But only have one type of turbo shot?  Not so ambitious.  Power-ups?  Good idea.  But having only three power-ups, one of which is a bomb, one of which is a health-up, and one of which adds flankers to your ship?  Not so ambitious.  Plus, the flankers are time-limited.  This was presumably done to preserve the difficulty.  Given that the screen gets utterly spammed with enemies and projectiles in later levels, this was unnecessary, as those guys really aren’t that effective at combating it.  So where’s the wild, more modern weapons and items?  Nowhere to be found, and that’s a shame.

The PlayStation Mobile version.  Which, as it turns out, I could have got for free a few weeks ago but I mistook it for another, less epilepsy-friendly title.  Instead, I ended up paying more for this version than I did for the superior XBLIG port.  Smooth, Cathy.

The PlayStation Mobile version. Which, as it turns out, I could have got for free a few weeks ago but I mistook it for another, less epilepsy-friendly title. Instead, I ended up paying more for this version than I did for the superior XBLIG port. Smooth, Cathy.

Don’t let that all discourage you.  Aqua Kitty is probably the best pure Defender clone in years and a genuinely good game.  Near-perfect difficulty curve.  Distinctive enemies.  Cutesy themes.  Solid play-control.  What’s not to love here?  I’m not sure why the inferior PlayStation Mobile is priced $0.50 higher than the XBLIG version.  Some kind of temporary insanity brought on by the awesomeness of a pipe-smoking kitten perhaps.  Happens to the best of us.  I saw the pipe-smoking kitten and totally blacked out.  The next thing I know, I’ve got a tattoo and I attempted to marry my Wii U.

xboxboxartAqua Kitty was developed by Tikipod

IGC_Approved240 Microsoft Points (XBLIG) and $3.49 (PlayStation Mobile) were unaware of the existence of a Defender song until some bastard sent it to me.  It shall never leave my head now in the making of this review.

Both versions of Aqua Kitty are Chick-Approved, and the XBLIG version is ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  Even the developers admitted to me that they prefer the XBLIG port.  Go with that one.

I turn 24 on Thursday.  Want to get me a gift?  You can donate to Autism Speaks via my friend Kyle Lock’s charity event on July 12Heck, don’t wait.  Donate now.  His goal is $200.  Autism Speaks helped my childhood in ways you can’t imagine if you don’t have autism.  It’s a great cause. 

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