A Game with a Kitty 1 & 2
Although the crew here love games in all of their incarnations unconditionally, we recognize the fact that, as Jay so wisely put it, "Windows-only download games can be very nice, but for every review of one we publish a kitten dies somewhere at the hand of a mean and nasty ogre." Sad, but true. Jay is wise beyond his years.
Fret not! Thanks to the developers at Origamihero you have a chance to redeem the death of said kitten by downloading and playing the magnificent platformers A Game With a Kitty and AGwaK2: Darkside Adventures!
There are, sadly, no kitties in AGwaK2: Darkside Adventures, so I guess the net loss to the world is one kitten. Oops. The games are also Windows only, sorry.
Nevertheless, beginning at the beginning, in the original A Game With a Kitty (released in June of 2005!) you play a heroic Kitty on a quest to investigate a mysterious tower that has appeared in the south. Using the [arrows] to move and [shift] to jump (and a [Control] run option becomes available during the game as well) you must progress in typical platformer fashion through a series of challenging and exciting levels. You have a bit of non-linear freedom in between levels, as you can choose your next challenge via a Super Mario World-styled map view.
After wrapping up that little adventure you can download and fire up AGwaK2 (completed last October), which as I mentioned before actually features no kitties. The controls are similar, though the [Control] key from the start allows you to fire bouncing stars (that you must collect) at either enemies or destructible blocks in the environment. You can also pick up objects and people in the environment using [Control].
The gameplay and level progression is similar to the first game, but overall the second game is a much more ambitious platformer as well as being a bit harder.
Analysis: Both games have the same NES-era graphics that may turn some people off, but that I found charming and nostalgic. The sound and music are true to the golden age of home video gaming as well, though none of the sounds are necessary for effective gameplay. I found Nine Inch Nails to be a particularly enjoyable counterpoint to the friendly gameplay, giving the Kitty a dark edge I felt he was lacking (though it turns a kid-friendly game into a decidedly adults-only affair). The less than state-of-the-art, uh, art glosses over some very creative and professional-quality platform game design that should not be missed.
Some tips though before playing: don't ever hit [Escape]! It doesn't pause the game, [Enter] does. I also found the controls to be a bit "slippery" especially in the sequel, and by that I mean there's a little float time between when you press a direction key and when you actually change direction. This felt more like you're running around on an icy surface than a programming issue, since the jump and fire keys respond perfectly. It is very slight, but just take it into account when jumping around.
As I mentioned, the second game is overall harder than the first, especially if you're a completionist (made that word up!) and like to capture every coin, star, etc on every level. There are save points scattered through both games and the levels are fairly short, so dying doesn't feel too much like punishment in either game.
One last thing: play them in full-screen, or if you're playing number two you have the option of "2x Window" mode. The standard windowed mode is extremely tiny unless you have your monitor set to a very low resolution.
Again, if you like platformers and haven't already played them, these are not to be missed!