E3 2013: Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails

Go away, cat!

Many of us had siblings growing up that would watch us play video games, shouting out things they noticed that we might have missed, or ideas on how to kill a particular boss. They might not have been playing, but they were involved. Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails – the upcoming Wii U exclusive from the creators of Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims – seeks to rekindle that feeling with gameplay that just wouldn’t be possible on any other system.

See, developers Dakko Dakko realized that, while we do have two screens with the Wii U, we’re only able to focus on one at a time. They also realized that putting the same thing on both screens is totally lame. So they made it… a little different. You play as Scram Kitty’s Buddy on Rails (I don’t think he ever gets a real name?) on the GamePad screen. In the game, Scram Kitty is your friend up in the control tower, so this is represented by any viewers of the main TV screen – able to see everything without being able to interact with it. The trick is that Scram Kitty’s view reveals hidden cracked walls and enemy weak points that are invisible to the player with the GamePad. So, sure, it’s totally playable by one player. But you’ll likely miss a lot of cool secrets.

The actual gameplay is kind of… hmm, I can’t actually pinpoint any one game that this is like. That’s awesome! You’re attached to rails on the walls so you can only move left and right. You can also jump between rails or over obstacles and you can shoot straight ahead, to the sides, or diagonally. You have to collect enough green keys to open the lock at the end of the stage, killing a bunch of enemies along the way. You’re able to upgrade your weapons, as well, and specific gun upgrades are necessary in order to bypass certain barriers.

From what I played, the gameplay was incredibly tight and fluid (think Super Meat Boy levels of control), especially once you got the hang of the different shooting angles. I was promised some time attack bits and depth-of-field obstacles, as well, with multiple layers to each level, although these weren’t available in the demo I got to play on the show floor.

The thing that struck me most about Scram Kitty is that – while it would be possible to do most of these things on another platform – Dakko Dakko really goes out of their way to make sure that a Wii U exclusive makes sense and takes advantage of the hardware. It’s not on the Wii U because the eShop is practically empty and they’re basically guaranteed a good spot in the digital store. Dakko Dakko brought this game to the Wii U because the things they remembered so fondly about being a kid – playing games while their siblings watched and shouted out ideas – just wouldn’t be doable on a traditional one-screen game, especially not on this scale.

Nintendo Land showed us the potential of the Wii U. There are things you can do there that you simply cannot do on any other console. Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails is looking to prove that once again.

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