THE RIDE NEVER ENDS
If you’ve been paying attention to SnapThirty this past month you might’ve seen a new addition to the team pop up here and there, “Hey how’s it going?”, doing his own take on SnapThirty’s, is that how you write that?, First Thoughts on some major 2015 anime that the guys missed out on, covering the recent release of No One But You and stirring the anime communities pot with his take on the current level of toxicity throughout the community. So, to finish off his check-list and become a full-fledged member, in his eyes at least, he needs to do a complete review of a game, anime or manga AND he needs to be a part of at least one episode of SnapThirty’s, again is that how you write it?, podcast: The SnapCast. However, with the second option out of the window because the rest of the team seem to keep recording them without him, cheers boys, the newest member of the team instead decided to go and review something. I had a few options, until the guys gave me a review copy of a new visual novel that’s just been released, by the name of: A Wild Catgirl Appears! And oh boy, this sure was an…experience…that I wish I didn’t really have.
So let us start off with a few factors for this equation. Firstly I am a fan of Visual Novels. Secondly, I do realise that A Wild Catgirl Appears! is made by a new indie dev team by the name of NewWestGames and thirdly I do realise that this game was made for a ‘game jam’, a gathering of a small team to create a video game within a few days. Now, taking these things into account I would have liked to lessen my incoming negative opinions about the game and give them the benefit of the doubt, a slap on the wrist if you will, and sent them on their way. But this is a special case in itself, featuring a lacklustre story, fairly boring characters and what I’ve seen many others also raise their fists over: horrible overall art. Probably the thing that annoyed me the most about this is the fact that NewWestGames are charging people to buy this game. Sure it might only be US$2.99, but the condition the game is in as of this point in time is horrible. Seriously, look at this:
When I first saw this my jaw literally dropped in disbelief
I think the safest part to start with would be the story and characters. From what I gathered, the story focuses around Ami, an ‘otaku’ who joins the coding club, which originally she never wanted to be a part of, and begins creating a game. She designs a character for the game called Starla, a ninja cat girl, along with a figure(insert amiibo) which doesn’t end up working with the game, however the next day she comes to life and Ami’s life gets turned upside down. Reading over that, the premise of the game doesn’t sound half bad, hell it sounded like it might even turn out to be a stupid but fun game. But of course, it is now the age old tradition of having games that sound good on the page, but end up being a complete mess afterwards. Small things like bad English, where to use grammar and not spell checking, are somewhat irritating but it’s more the big stuff like not having a concept of time, things like making dinner or even worse making a game apparently only takes two seconds with a few text sound effects, continuous use of the word “Okay” or “Yeah” to carry a conversation and the fact that the conversations themselves aren’t exactly top notch. The thing that annoyed me the most though was how the cat girls themselves are placed into the story. The game world doesn’t even have cat girls, they don’t exist full stop, so when our main character asks how Starla even exists and how she somehow came into being from a sketch Ami drew she just shrugs it off with a simple “I don’t know”. That is absolutely lazy story writing 101. The two other main characters, Lise and Ria, are also boring to me. Lise just seems like she is meant to be eye candy for the player and Ria is meant to be just a token tsundere, but to me she just came across as a total bitch for a majority of the game.
Soundtrack wise there is nothing really to say. Some of the background music is alright at times, fitting the particular scenario nicely, while others for some reason are on repeat for about 5-10 minutes across multiple scenes and it honestly makes me want to question the guy behind the music for the game. I wish they had the time to create a few other songs for the game so that I didn’t have to listen to the others for so long . Plus there were multiple scenes where those songs that are on loop did not fit the scene at all. But in all honesty, even after all that the soundtrack probably is one of the only redeeming factors for the game.
Finally we’re up to arguably the worst, and in ways best, part of the game, the animation. The first thing I should mention about this game is just how inconsistent the animation is, especially for the backgrounds. One minute it’s the game’s normal art style, then we have water colour backgrounds, followed by semi-3D animation and full 3-D animation backgrounds and finally straight up Photoshop that looks like it came out of my books. Oh and the CG art, don’t even get me started with the CG art.
There is literally no excuses I will accept for this
However I will give credit where it is due, the normal art for the characters are surprisingly really good and honestly the only complaints I have for them is that I wish they had one or two more expressions and better use of the hands, instead of them being locked in place. Also, when the background art used is done by the same, or similar I’m not too sure on that, artist everything just fits well and it’s honestly sad that the story, repetitive soundtrack and horrible CG art brings it down.
To finish up, this game was a massive let down for me. This could’ve been something pretty cool, honest, but not nearly enough time went into this game for it to be released as a paid product. If they were to make it free or make it a ‘Steam Early Access Game’ at least for the time being then I would take some heat off it, especially seeing as they’re now working on a new ‘remake’ of sorts for the game, which if after all this NewWestGames want me to check out I happily will. I do like however that the Steam version of the game does grant you ‘special DLC’ in the form of an extra catgirl named Eiko, so at least there is that. Overall though, until the major issues for A Wild Catgirl Appears! are fixed I cannot give this game a passing grade and I cannot even recommend this game to anyone unless you’re getting as a typical ‘joke gift’ for a friend or you want to experience the original game first hand before the remake.
If you would like to buy the game then you can buy it on Steam here.
There is also another version of the game on itch.io, but I highly recommend that if you do buy this game that you at least get the best version of it. The itch.io version of the game does not include Eiko, who really should just be part of the main game anyway.
If you would like to follow the NewWestGames Twitter account then you can here.