Well, it's really happened. It's official. D_of_I has gone off the deep end. You could see it coming when he had eggs falling through a maze into a frying pan. Then came the bizarre Cat With Bow Golf, clearly the work of a madman. Now, in his delirium, he's paired that insidious cat with an equally pernicious dolphin to create an unlikely team in his latest release: Cat on a Dolphin.
Yes, it seems the cat has gotten bored shooting his bow and poling himself about and wants to travel across the ocean in search of new adventures. The problem is, he can't hold his breath for very long, so he enlists the help of a dolphin to provide the locomotion, while he hangs on for the ride of his life!
Each of the 8 levels in this excellent one-button game consists of 2 regions: a track of blue water surrounded by gray air. There is no "seabed", which can be confusing when you first start. The dolphin can only swim along the water, but the cat will run out of air unless it leaves the water from time to time. As a result, the dolphin must toss the cat up into the air to recover and then catch him when he comes back down — not always an easy task, considering the dolphin can only move forwards and never backwards.
Getting the hang of the purpose and of the controls is not very intuitive, so I'll go through a little primer here. As mentioned before, Cat on a Dolphin is a one-button game. In this case, the purpose of the button is two-fold: when the left mouse button is held down, the dolphin swims forward and the cat grabs hold of its fin, if it is close enough to do so. When you release the button, the dolphin stops swimming and the cat lets go, retaining whatever momentum it gained from the dolphin. Release the button when you need to fling the cat up into the air to catch a breath. However, you'll want to re-press the button to keep the dolphin moving forward in order to catch the cat when it comes back down. If the cat remains in the water for too long, his face will turn pink, then red, and eventually he'll drown.
You want to avoid that.
The dolphin will follow the path of the water automatically — there is no need to steer. However, you will need to take care sometimes not to overshoot the cat — it's impossible to go backwards to catch him. The difficulty arises with the various paths that the dolphin must take. Level one starts you off easy, with a series of wave-like peaks which make it easy to throw the cat. Soon, however, the path becomes the primary challenge — you'll have to figure out how to navigate the cat through loops-de-loop and how to throw him with very little topography to help you out.
As usual for D_of_I games, there are those jittery, jangly physics at work. And — also as usual — those physics are the star of the show, along with the gameplay. D_of_I does one-button games a service by breaking away from the rotate-to-aim-click-to-fire mechanism usually employed by the genre. The artwork takes
second, fifth, extremely low priority, and the sound is non-existent. Still, it's not like we've been led to expect anything more from previous D_of_I games.
So join in the insanity, and play Cat on a Dolphin.