AQUA KITTY UDX: Xbox One Ultra Edition Review

By Marc Hollinshead,
It regularly appears to be the case that after certain games have been residing on other platforms for a good few months, or even years, they eventually come to consoles. Aqua Kitty - Milk Mine Defender DX has been playable on PC and PS4 for a while now, but Xbox has finally been granted access to the game in the form of AQUA KITTY UDX: Xbox One Ultra Edition. This is an updated version of the game with a couple of extras thrown in, all neatly wrapped up with a snazzy new title. Is Aqua Kitty an indie title that was worth the wait for us on Xbox?

Logo

Aqua Kitty has cats front and centre. The context in which the game is set up is that the tantalising milk that cats crave so dearly has all but run out on land. After a long search, an abundance of the stuff has been found in the depths of the sea so the surprisingly intelligent felines take it upon themselves to dive into the hazardous water and extract the delicious milk for their own desires. A shoot-em-up such as this needs no plot to advance, just some context so that the gameplay has some substance behind it. Aqua Kitty does just that. The focus with this title is purely on the gameplay and the way in which that is introduced is adequately done, albeit a tad ludicrous.

While there is no progressing story of which to speak, Aqua Kitty has gameplay progression of sorts. The game's Classic mode acts as the main campaign, putting you through multiple levels with boss battles in between. In each level, a number of cats are in the process of extracting milk and it is your job to protect them from the nasty creatures of the ocean. To do that, you control a cat in a miniature submarine-like vessel, equipped with torpedoes and plenty of manoeuvrability. You will face off against a few waves of increasingly difficult enemies and if you manage to keep at least one cat safe and kill all enemies, the level will be complete. You receive a score at the end depending on your performance, but this only amounts to an online leaderboard position and doesn't really add much to your personal experience.

A simple push of the A button will fire your primary weapon, whereas the B button will fire your stronger secondary weapon, which will need time to recharge after excessive use. Use of the shoulder buttons will also change your current direction. A number of powerups will periodically appear throughout the level to tip the odds, such as explosives and extra directions of fire, but it is fairly simplistic. One thing the game does to help you out, though, is seamlessly loop the environment as you travel. Once you reach one end of the level, you will continue to travel as though you've appeared from the other end, so this helps out if you need to get from one cat to another when the sneaky jellyfish attempt to kidnap them.

Keep those kittens safe or it's no milk for anyone.Keep those kittens safe or it's no milk for anyone.

After each set of levels you will eventually reach a boss. These aren't too much trouble but they do appear before the rest of the enemies are killed, thus making for a potentially frantic first half of the battle. The boss also doesn't halt any attempts to capture cats either as pesky jellyfish will still spawn in, so you will always need to be aware. The bosses themselves will usually require you to whittle down their defences before reaching their weak spot. After that is exposed, it is a simple case of all out warfare while avoiding any projectiles so that it's curtains for your adversary. The bosses aren't especially memorable but they add an extra layer of challenge for particular levels.

The second mode on offer is Arcade. This follows the campaign mode but tweaks it a little. The catch here is that if you die, the entire playthrough is reset and you have to go from level one. To make this more bearable, collectable gems will appear, like powerups, and with them you can buy permanent upgrades for that particular playthrough. With these, your vessel has the potential to be much stronger than the campaign, so dying may not be quite as common. Unless you have an unending desire to reach the end of this mode, there's nothing else that will bring you back due to the simple fact that it is another version of Classic mode.

The third main mode, Dreadnought, is a new addition to this version of Aqua Kitty and it deviates away from the main objective of the game. Instead of acting as a guardian of other cats, you need to take down the core of giant dreadnoughts. Every level will present you with a large structure and you will have to destroy as much as possible so that the core will reveal itself. After that, the core will begin to fire and you will need to destroy it to ultimately take down the entire dreadnought. This mode can be slightly more challenging than the others as there can be a lot to monitor. Sinking mines will activate from your position, turret-like defences will fire until they are eliminated and other enemies will come after you. Cats do still make an appearance here, but instead they reset the timer of any powerup you currently have equipped, therefore acting as buffs instead of NPC's to keep safe. Overall this is an interesting addition and helps to ease the tedium of going through similar campaign levels.

Dreadnought cores won't just sit there and take damage. They'll fight back.Dreadnought cores won't just sit there and take damage. They'll fight back.

There is, in fact, a fourth bonus mode that unlocks towards the beginning of Classic mode. The peculiarly named "Infinite Espresso" acts as the game's endless mode. There are no cats to be saved, no dreadnoughts to destroy and no milk in sight. It's just you against waves and waves of enemies. It only takes a few waves before you become overwhelmed — once you reach wave ten, expect a constant onslaught. There's nothing new about the mode; it's everything you've already seen in the game but it's never ending. It serves its purpose well enough and acts as a good practice level, if nothing else.

The final sliver of content available is local co-op. Wherever you may be in the game, another player can jump in to help you out. With co-op it appears that enemies and waves are no stronger than that of the single player. In this sense, having some help makes your life slightly easier. However, it's game over for both of you if just one player dies. It can also become a bit confusing when trying to keep track of your own position — apart from a small colour change, the two vessels are exactly the same in design, therefore causing a small amount of chaos when bullets fly everywhere and enemies flood the screen. If both of you are skilled enough, it may be worth teaming up for later levels instead of going alone.

While there is a relatively large amount of content on hand for players, it doesn't shadow the fact that the gameplay isn't all that diverse, so small portions of time in the game are your best bet. After long periods of play the game can start to feel repetitive and boring so it's not something that will keep your attention all day long. Those short bursts of play are helped along by the game's catchy soundtrack, though, adding another ounce of enjoyment to the title.

If you make it to wave 20, then you deserve a pat on the back.If you make it to wave 20, then you deserve a pat on the back.

There are 41 achievements in total in Aqua Kitty, all of which encourage you to explore every aspect of the game. Many of them will be earned naturally as you progress further in the modes and kill plenty of enemies. However, there are a few that will take a little more skill. Reaching wave 20 in Infinite Espresso will need quick reflexes and a lot of kills, and saving every cat in Classic mode will require keen awareness throughout the main levels. It's not a tough list to the extreme, but don't expect a simple romp to the end if you want the full 1000G.

Summary

AQUA KITTY UDX: Xbox One Ultra Edition is a game that provides plenty of content for a game of its size, but ultimately won't keep you going for hours on end. Each mode has its quirks and brings something slightly different to the table, whether that's a barrage of enemies, cats to defend or giant structures to destroy, but the gameplay by and large remains the same throughout. Local co-op is an option for those who want to team up with a friend and it may actually work out better for you in later levels; however, it can be tough to keep track of your own position if a fellow player is firing all over the screen. Aqua Kitty is a fun shoot-em-up that presents a fair challenge with a decent soundtrack, but it won't hold your attention in the long run.
3 / 5
AQUA KITTY UDX: Xbox One Ultra Edition
Positives
  • Plenty of different modes
  • Simple controls
  • Co-op helps through tougher levels
Negatives
  • Co-op can become a bit chaotic
  • Repetition and boredom occur after long periods of play
Ethics
The reviewer spent 4 hours playing through all modes both in singleplayer and co-op and earned 26 of the game's 41 achievements along the way. An Xbox One code for the game was provided by ID@Xbox for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.