Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender – Review (PC)

Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender is one of those weird concepts that someone probably thought up during a strange dream and decided to make a game of; in this case you are part of a milk mining operation and must protect the miners from evil robotic fish. Oh, and you are your comrades are all cats. Throw in some eerie level design that gives the impression that humans used to exist but have had their civilisation destroyed, and you get a game that is cute, fun and evil to the core. So, pretty much the perfect description of cats.

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Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender is similar to Resogun or Defender but with a more tactical approach. You have three main concerns in Aqua Kitty; Your health, the miners/tankers, and weapon upgrades. You have to move quickly in Aqua Kitty as those miners will constantly be abducted by malevolent octopi, couple the required speed with almost bullet hell like conditions and you get a frantically fun experience. Fear not, however, the short levels manage to prevent frustration as you will be able to get back to the same point in moments.

Your health and weaponry is where Aqua Kitty’s strategic depth really comes into play as both health and weapon upgrades are held within a fast-moving container that changes its contents depending on its depth. (See what they did there?) Thankfully the pickup stays there for the duration of the level so you can plan ahead. Something you will have to be good at it the later levels.

There are three game modes in Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender; Easy, Normal and Arcade. The easy and normal game modes have you progressing through levels, with an automatic upgrade to your equipment every now and then. Arcade mode is similar but would have been more aptly named “Hardcore mode” as you have one life to complete the game with and must use gems to upgrade your various systems.
(There is also an infinite level for those who wish to just shoot things and not worry about rescuing miners.)

Aqua Kitty is purposely reminiscent of old 16-bit genesis games like Defender but without the same restrictions it manages to create a beautiful “modern-retro” look. Every aspect flows together and in the few moments of peace, it is rewarding to simply watch the waves.

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It isn’t just the art style in Aqua Kitty that makes us tremble; the soundtrack is just as invigorating. The light and happy chip tune soundtrack made us fall in love with this game completely and has been played continuously by us  for the past few days.

As you play through Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender it becomes very apparent that the developers put a lot of thought and work into the enemy designs, as you find yourself spotting the various types of fish amidst the hail of bullets. With the inclusion of the mini-map it becomes impossible to blame the game for stealing miners without warning as you are able to see the red dots (Octopi) moving towards them. This also makes it easy to remember and find power-ups in the level.

You have probably noticed we’ve said nothing of the story for this game so far and that is because, well, it’s an arcade game. The whole story is told in the splash screen. The cats ran out of milk then found naturally forming milk under the oceans and are mining it. If you want to argue the science of that plot then this isn’t the game for you. What is interesting though, and briefly mentioned earlier in the review, is the way the levels tell a story of their own. As it is clearly seen in the later levels, there are very obviously human buildings under the oceans. Sunken ruins of a lost civilisation that hint at something deeper than just “Milk needed for kitties”.

Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender is a great 2D shoot-em up that we whole heartedly recommend to everyone. The beautiful graphics, ear-tantalising soundtrack and rocking gameplay will keep you entertained for hours. With genuine difficulty even at normal, Aqua Kitty is definitely worth the £4.99 asking price.

Aquakitty is available now on Steam. You can also buy the awesome soundtrack direct from the artist!