Developer: F K Digital
Publisher: Neko Entertainment
NeoGaf 2015, ‘Nekoburo CatsBlock |OT| Bow before your (square cat) overlords’, ZeroAKA,
Match 3 puzzle games are a profoundly simple genre of video games. Once the core working of its gameplay is made, its up to the other elements of engagement to engross the player and keep them playing. NekoBuro’s vibrant cutesy art style paired with gameplay that effectively spices up the match 3 mechanic with challenges and power ups serves to elevate it from monotony.
The only real flaw with NekoBuro is sporadic spikes in difficulty. Even with this problem, it will be revealed if this detracts from the noteworthy flow of gameplay and appeal of its adorable misfit Square Cats.
NekoBuro’s gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played Teteris. Each level has a unique mission where 3 matching cats have to be aligned vertically, horizontal or diagonally. To help the player in matching up three cats, a power up gauge fills when a match is made or a chain goes off.
The missions keep the player on their toes in the later stages and the beginning stages do a wonderful job at easing the player into the later challenge down the road. Moments however of missions that bring a sudden increase in difficulty is a crack in a beautifully entertaining form of gameplay. In stages such as 4 -8, 5-2 and the ruthless but appropriately brutal 5-10, the player has little space for error, reinforced by the fact squares are randomly generated and what allow the power up gauge to increase. In these stages, the player is more or less hoping they can rapidly align a combo chain within the relentless conditions of these missions or that Lady Luck shines down on them because without her, the game over screen will be practically engraved in their minds due to seeing it countless times.
But the overall experience is a smooth fun ride across a majority of the game time. While these three highlighted stages aren’t going to cause hand cramped frustration along the lines of something like Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine(1993), they are noticeably frustrating by design and easily seen. They are simply however, small valleys in a enjoyable roller coaster of simple fun.
While the match 3 gameplay proves to be entertaining, the heart and soul of NekoBuro lies in every inch of its presentation. The colourful art style paired with a peaceful cheery soundtrack invokes a tone and mood of a relaxed, joyful peace of mind. This is reflected in the design and personalities of the Square Cats.
The delightfully chaotic trouble they cause for their owner as they bring their group back together helps motivate the player to finish the missions. The appeal of the Square Cats is reinforced by the toys the player obtains from completing missions, allowing them to cause hilarious destruction to the cat’s home and have playful fun with them too. These elements of NekoBuro’s presentation come together to make a game that anyone can enjoy.
NekoBuro has the unfortunate downside of being short to finish. That does not however ruin it’s incredibly sweet run time. The missions provide a varied and consistent gameplay experience with rare but overly difficult missions cracking at a standard yet flawless experience. The Square Cats are what make NekoBuro, having the right amount of cuteness without coming off as detestably annoying. Players looking for a fun casual experience with a satisfying feeling of accomplishment should try out this impeccably bare bones yet fulfilling tale of box shaped cats.