Time to let the hairballs fly as some very aerodynamic cats take to the skies.
Title: Neko Navy: Daydream Edition
System: PC, Nintendo Switch
Compared to the dozen or so shoot-em-up titles that I have touched in a lifetime, Neko Navy might not be the weirdest in all mention, but certainly qualifies as one of the most cutest. Developed by DeathMofuMofu (a fitting name) and seeing an official PC release in June 2017, Neko Navy, like a kitten tucked away inside a cardboard box, finds a new home on the Nintendo Switch boasting a few tweaks and improvements. It might not hold enough incentive for those that already have clawed at it, but for the laggards and unaware, it provides the perfect opportunity for both diehard fans and neophytes alike. And no pun intended with that “perfect” remark…that just sort of happened. Yeah, that’s right, nothing more than an coincidence! Sorry, I will put an end to the wordplay.
Despite Neko Navy wearing the moniker of the shump, it would be more accurate to put it under the “cute-em-up” category: shuffling players across 7 bizarre and colorful stages and dealing with all manner of affable, yet nightmare fuel inducing foes. I’m not sure if I should consider an enemy made completely out of meat anything close to pleasant, but if that doesn’t force you into becoming a vegetarian….well, you still might want to consider it. The standard rules of gameplay applies: aim to score high by shooting down foes without getting shot down yourself. Of course, with ways to score a massive amount of points from getting close into enemy range from releasing a nicely timed bomb to turn incoming fire to extra points are ways the series does things slightly differently. Thankfully, with difficulty modes revamped (Hard actually sending you to an early game over in under 3 minutes or less), both the inexperienced and experienced can enjoy the ride no matter their level of play. Of course, for those really confident in said skills, the newly introduced “Infinite mode”, throwing players in a level with every single enemy they can imagine with only one life will be ultimate test. Just don’t be surprised if you see the credits screen before you can blink without practice or going into arcade mode a few times.
In addition to the new enhancements, the game being on the Nintendo Switch hardware is the biggest, allowing players access to both the docked and undocked styles of play. Unable to tell the frame rate extent, the game runs rather smooth in both and even compatible with other controller use. The downsides is 1.) There is no touchscreen support (not sure why anyone would want that for a title like this) and 2.) There is no formal pause key. Going to the home screen and then going to sleep has to be the only option if you want a break or have to stop momentarily. That being said, it is advised to do that at the end of a level due to the fact the controls are locked for a short period of time.
Granted the Nintendo Switch has been stocking up on shumps ever since release day and a few more notable titles still on the way, Neko Navy, by far still holds the advantage for the odd concept, cute visuals, and just plain works for what it is and does. For those that only scratched the surface of the original release or have yet to experience it or simply those that want to again on another platform, there is no better time than now to give it a shot. Just don’t be disappointed by the lack of cats commanding boats or doing anything related to seafaring. I know, it is a real heartbreaker.
Pros: 7 levels to conquer, revamp difficulty modes for any skill type, infinite mode as a little extra challenge, leaderboards, easy to understand mechanics and controls, cute designs, accommodating for both veterans and newbies.
Cons: No formal pause button.
Final Verdict: Whimsical, cute, and very charming, Neko Navy is a shoot-em-up experience that hits all the right notes that others before it have as well. With smooth controls, adjustable difficulty modes, and handful of dazzling levels, it is a title that will not easily disappoint. Then again, who doesn’t like seeing fuzzy felines zip through the air?
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This is by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Fruitbat Factory.