WayForward out-of-the-blue released a side-scrolling shooter for the Nintendo Switch called Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche on April 1st, 2020. What was originally an April Fool’s joke of its own back in 2013, Cat Girl Without Salad is now a full-fledged release that is no joke at all.
As per the usual, WayForward provides a cute and charming game with a strong female protagonist. But is Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche worth your time and money? There is only one way to find out! Let’s break this game down and see what it is worth.
You play as Kebako, a cat-eared intergalactic bounty hunter, as she flies around the galaxy in search of over-the-top space criminals. Alongside your faithful companion, Squiddie, you will be shooting and shooting and shooting until you feel you cannot shoot anymore.
The story very basic, as you simply play as a bounty hunter looking for bad guys, but the strongest point of Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is the banter. The goofy conversations between Kebako and Squiddie, as well as Kebako and the bosses, is absolutely hilarious.
As the title clearly communicates, Kebako is not a fan of salad, and this is often part of the conversation, as well as her keen sense of sight. Her observations are so obscure and often irrelevant that it can comically be distracting from the game.
This banter and rambling provides a ton of unique character development that makes the game quite enjoyable to play. The characters are all weird, but their weirdness provides a very entertaining experience throughout each stage.
Cat Girl Without Salad is your basic side-scrolling shooter, in the same vein as some old-school arcade ones. You simply scroll up and down shooting one of your various guns at an assortment of minor enemies before ultimately encountering the boss.
At certain points, the game can feel like a bullet hell, where enemies and fired shots are covering the screen, and all you can do is hold down that fire button while avoiding the enemies at all costs.
One of the interesting mechanics in the game is food. Since Kebako has a proper health bar represented by hearts, you are able to fill up these hearts by eating the foods that Kebako loves, like cheeseburgers and ice cream.
But be warned. Kebako hates salad. If you eat a salad, not only with it damage you, but it will take away your current powerup. Actually, any damage received in the game causes Kebako to lose her powerup and revert back to the original pea shooter.
Powerups are received by defeating certain enemies and picking up what appear to be old Japanese famicom cartridges. Unfortunately, some powerups are clearly better than others, but all powerups are stronger than the starting blaster, for sure.
I actually found this RNG to be among the most annoying, especially if you are replaying a stage after failing to beat the boss and you cannot receive a relevant or helpful powerful throughout the stage. Thankfully, boss sections give opportunities to receive new powerups throughout the battle in case you lost yours, and the spacing between those opportunities feels just right. Again, though, it just sucks if you cannot get a decent powerup in those randomized events.
The bosses are mostly fantastic, and I only have one complaint. For the most part, they provide excellent encounters that challenge you, the player, in a proper way according to how Cat Girl Without Salad has trained you up to that point. They are quite funny, and the banter between them and Kebako is so much fun. The only problem is that the RNG can be insanely unfair, which makes a perfect run seem impossible. There were multiple times I was put in a situation against the first two bosses where I had absolutely no means of dodging or avoiding damage.
There is not a whole lot more gameplay than that, however, so if you are looking for variety, you may need to look elsewhere.
The music in Cat Girl Without Salad is a nice mix of pop and club music. It is relevant to the fact that Kebako is an ex-popstar, and it is as if she is listening to her favorite music as she is out bounty hunting. It is quite enjoyable and complimented things really well.
But the best part of the game is clearly the voice acting and scripting. The characters’ voices are so good, and each one of them have so much personality and depth thanks to the excellent vocal performances by the actors. This was something that took me by surprise, because I was not expecting a whole lot from the game to begin with.
Visually, the game looks fine. It is a good combination of Japanese anime and American cartoon, so the character designs look nice and are wildly animated.
The enemy designs and backgrounds are mostly generic, but that does not necessarily mean they are bad. For a side-scrolling shooter, this is pretty commonplace, so I cannot complain too much.
However, I experienced quite a few performance issues that I could not figure out what was the cause. The first one I faced was when I tried the game in handheld mode, and the controls were completely unresponsive. I could not move Kebako or shoot at all, so that really soured my experience. I could not even press pause to quit to the menu. I had to wait and die or quit out at the moment. This same glitch happened to me when I made it to the first boss on my initial attempt as well, which honestly made me mad. Stages are a little long, so I had to restart the whole stage thanks to this.
On top of that, hit boxes are wildly hit-or-miss. Some times bullets would go through my hair and not damage me, while the next shot would be a solid millimeter off and I would take damage.
In regards to framerate and stuttering, Cat Girl Without Salad runs perfectly smooth and looks great in the process. My only issues were these couple errors and programming proplems.
Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is going to cost you $7.99, and to be perfectly honest, I am having a difficult time recommending this game outright. On the one hand, it is a great price, looks and sounds really good, and is just an overall fun game to play.
However, it is short, and I am really short. The main story can be cleared in one hour, and there is not a whole lot of reason to come back for more. There is just no incentive to replay the game, except for local bragging rights, so the lack of something like online leaderboards hurts this game a bit.
If you like shooters, this is a romping good time, but just keep in mind that this Cat Girl can only avoid salad for so long.
Excellent voice acting
No online leaderboards or reason to keep playing
Weird performance issues
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.