A lot of major publishers are disconnected from their fans. When they do try to have a sense of humor, it usually falls flat as the joke is made to a disconnected audience. WayForward are not like most, as their audience care about their name and success. This studio’s affections towards their fans go back decades, and the feeling is mutual as delights continue to hit multiple platforms. In 2013, an insanely busy Cat Girl Without Salad proved to be an April Fool that stuck, as the game has finally landed on the Switch, without unnecessary garnishes. How does it play? Let’s find out.
Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche puts us rather quickly into the role of Kebako, an intergalactic culinary bounty hunter. With her sidekick Squiddie in tow, she sets off to tackle enemies and cook up minor adventures against fully realized foes. Levels kind of feel like you are at the best chapter in a story, as there really is no ramp-up to the narrative. You are already there and the pace never declines until the credits roll. Sure, the game is short, but the characters and atmosphere are lovely, with a fun, memorable journey to be had. Those who played almost any WayForward title will more than likely feel right at home.
The gameplay in Cat Girl Without Salad is all over the place. Take a side-scrolling shooter, add in constantly changing elements, and insert heavy action sequences, and you basically have the recipe here. Kebako utilizes a pea shooter that can be upgraded through pick-ups as you move forward. The pick-ups are the gimmick here, as they change the entire playstyle based on whichever upgrade that is obtained. From a Dance Dance Revolution inspired arrow chart to power up shots to little red and green platformer men that can be fired at enemies, there are a ton of mechanics all blending together here. For the most part, they work, and function well. There are nods to several genres and they come at you quick by collecting random cartridges, with the pace making each feel fresh upon pickup.
For the price the amount of content is fulfilling, but do know this is a short game that can be beaten in a standard sitting. Levels and enemies alike are very well structured and the standard method of play encourages heavy replay. Kebako’s abilities are great, but there were times I felt that the whole experience was like a really good flash game found on a browser. I truly do not want to take away from the product by saying that, but I think most will come out of Cat Girl with similar thoughts. It handles like a browser game and the simplicity found throughout the package make it feel like a nice side offering you go to if you just want to kill a little bit of time after playing a heavier product.
The visuals are definitely going to be loved within Cat Girl Without Salad if you are a WayForward fan. From our endearing main character to chipper and silly pack of foes, everything feels light and fun and the character designs are on point with the Mighty Switch Force and Shantae franchises. The screen has a lot going on at any giving time, and thankfully – I didn’t experience any slowdown or lapse in animation, as the polish inserted can be seen in nearly every pixel.
The music is also phenomenal. That shouldn’t be a surprise as Jake Kaufman put together these beats, but this is definitely a treat and is well worth the small price tag on its own. The voice acting is also on point, with these characters receiving a decent treatment to bring them to life. On a short side note though, is WayForward having actors send in their work from home studios? I mean, it never has bothered me, but for a while I feel like some voice acting in these sets of games has each actor sound like they are shooting on different tiers of equipment. Some come off as high quality and fluid, and others sound a little less vibrant, making conversations seem a bit off. No huge deal, just something that was noticed.
A Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is a fine game that is well worth the price of admission. This is the kind of game you need to get when you have some credit on your Switch and just want something easy and fun to play, and the content should please anyone wanting a laugh or a quick getaway from reality. I can see a lot potential for a future franchise here, joke or not, and with or without salad, this is one offering that Switch owners should start feasting upon.
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