Richman Stewart's Cat Ninja is one of those weird high-difficulty action games that walks the line between too-cute-to-quit and "I WILL END YOU". As a cat on a quest to save the world by collecting crystals, you have your work cut out for you in a hostile realm full of lasers, land mines, spikes, sticky goo, and more... not to mention one of those trendy sassy narrators who mocks you when you fail. Initially, all you've got are your paws and claws for the basics... the [arrow] keys make you run and jump, with double-jump, wall-jumping, a mighty Mario-esque butt stomp to break glass and press switches, and a fast rolling ability triggered by holding the down [arrow]. All cats have tricks up their sleeves, however, and this feline is no different. How about a jetpack? Switches that rotate the level around you? Switches that flip your gravity? If you should die by some unfortunate means, you'll be booted back to the start of the level or the last checkpoint you passed. You can also restart a stage with [R], and in either case, you'll get to keep any crystals you picked up beforehand.
Cat Ninja is one of those games best suited for players who delight in difficulty and misdirection. From the way it mocks you when you die, threatens you when you pause the game, and deliberately tries to get you killed, it's clear the game itself is working against you, and only fast action will keep you alive. The one-hit KO will be a turn-off for some, as will the sparse level design, but the way each stage is carefully crafted to test your increasing confidence with new objects keeps things fresh for fans of the challenge. Unfortunately, there are aspects of movement and mechanics that seem a little imprecise... you need to be dead-on in your butt-aim to trigger red buttons, for instance, which can take some fiddle maneuvering, but even then it doesn't always seem to register the first time. You'll need real split-second timing to get around some obstacles, especially in later levels, and it can feel like your feline hero slides just a hair too much when you stop moving at times. But with an enormous amount of challenging new objects and deadly hazards to keep you on your toes and some punishing level design to take advantage of them, Cat Ninja is still an oddly addictive and clever addition to the genre well worth checking out.
Thanks to Matt for sending this one in!