Ben Wallace hates cats. This is a known fact. I, on the other hand, quite like them. Long-time readers of the site may remember Ben’s delight in telling the story of the sinister Mr. Jim, alias the Cat Boogeyman.
He turned a genuinely heartwarming story of feral catch/fix/release into the feline version of Friday The 13th. Still reeling from the emotional scars from such a defamatory work, I have decided to dedicate today’s column to video games featuring cats. And Ben can’t do anything about it. Mostly because he has nothing else to post today.
The idea first came to me after learning of a delightful new indie game that went up on Steam Greenlight, Catlateral Damage. You play as a cat, running and leaping through a home from a first-person perspective, intent on knocking everything in your path on the floor. You can download a free alpha build of the game on PC, Mac and Linux. Destroy as many things as possible before your time runs out! The game is still in its early stages, but I assume the humans will come home from work and go after you with a water bottle or something.
TAKE THAT, HOUSEPLANT!
But this game was not helping me in my devious plot for revenge– all it’s doing is reinforcing Ben’s unfortunately mistaken assumption that all cats are evil. After all, what is the story in Catlateral Damage? What’s the main character’s motivation? He’s not like Call Of Duty dog Riley, who heroically leaps and catches terrorist-filled helicopters like they were tennis balls… no you play as a cat who knocks stuff on the floor. Why? Because you are a cat.
I tried to recall what other games featured cats, but all my brain could muster from its gaming experience came up villainous: Goro and the Mewkies ran a rather vicious organized larceny ring in arcade classic Mappy. In SEGA’s ChuChu Rocket!, the orange KapuKapu spacecats’ sole instinct is to eliminate an entire race of spacemice, plus they look like a crayon scrawl by a 9 year-old H.R. Giger. Desperate, I scanned my collection of Genesis cartridges and remembered a forgotten gem, Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers. Well crap. Another good game with a bad cat. And a dumb cat, to boot.
PRETTY SURE THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE IS ACTUALLYEVIL.
I was determined for this article to work and make Ben the laughingstock of the internet. WHAT GAMES HAD I PLAYED THAT FEATURE GOOD CATS? Panic activated my nerd fight-or-flight mechanism, where bits of relevant trivia suddenly rush to mind so you can successfully defeat your opponent. (This defense does not work in high school.)
LaserCat is a great metroidvania platformer available on PC and Xbox Live Indie Games. Yes, you play as a cat less than 8×8 pixels but that doesn’t make LaserCat any less of a hero or less fun. Unlike many retro-styled games out today, this one isn’t insanely difficult and won’t make you want to punch your monitor. It has traps, keys, trivia questions, an evil frog and an auto-map. And a glowing hero cat who is not evil.
LASERCAT IS IN CONSTANT PERIL. A PLUS FOR CAT-HATERS.
Toro Let’s Party or Toro No Morimori or トロともりも, is a PS3 mini-game party game featuring Sony’s PlayStation cat mascot, Toro Inoue. At one point in time Sony planned on releasing it in the United States but they changed their mind for some reason. I blame Ben Wallace. However, the PS3 is region-free so you can import and play the Hong Kong version in (somewhat broken) English without needing to hack your console. The mini games are fun, the story about Toro and his friends is adorably goofy and you get great lines that sort of make sense, like “Excuse me, who you are?”
While there are games that feature good cats, there seem to be more with evil ones. You may think that Mr. Wallace may escape this article unscathed. But I do have the kicker: Tail Concerto on the original PlayStation. In this game you play as a dog. A police dog. Not a K-9 unit dog, but a dog in a police uniform answering to the name of Officer Waffle. Oh, but wait… Officer Waffle patrols the Floating Islands of Prairie in a robotic exosuit with floppy arms and a trans-dimensional backpack. It’s kind of like Pacific Rim, only smaller and fluffier. When a gang of villainous cats begins attacking Prairie, Officer Waffle mechanically trots to the rescue, capturing mischievous kittens with his exosuit’s bubble gun, snatching them with its floppy arms and zapping them to HQ via the teleporter in the suit’s backpack.
THIS ALL FITS INTO A STORY SOMEHOW.
I will lull Ben into liking this game with a false sense of security, for he will discover that the cats were being tricked into resorting to violence by a truly evil mastermind who had promised the cats equal rights in Prairie after years of prejudicial treatment. This was so the mastermind could unl— you know, never mind. It gets complicated.
What it boils down to is that I will have tricked Ben into learning an important lesson in tolerance and understanding and cat equality. But in writing this piece, I realized that my quest for revenge was only fueling this legacy of hate.
Thank you, Tail Concerto, for teaching me this important lesson. And thank you for helping me teach Ben that not all cats are evil.
Although… most video game cats are.