With it’s 16-bit graphics reminiscent of one of my all-time favourite computers, the Amiga, and gameplay inspired by the arcade classic, Defender, it’s no wonder that Tikipod’s PlayStation Mobile game Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender made it’s way into our list of top PSM games. With it’s fast, addictive gameplay and great visuals it quickly became a personal favourite of mine and still is to this day. However, the folks at Tikipod weren’t satisfied and as many other PSM developers have before them decided to take this great game and rework it from the ground up and turn it into a fully-fledged PS Vita and PS4 shooter…
For those of you unfamiliar with the game, rather than retreading over old ground I’ll just point you to my review of the original Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender. Briefly though, in essence it’s a 16-bit themed defender clone with a feline styled storyline… the cats of the world are in distress as the globe’s milk supply is drying up. Left with no alternative, our feline friends have to seek out new sources of their favourite beverage and to their surprise (and ours) have found a new untapped reserve underground so they set out to mine it. It’s your job to protect the kitty miners from attack as they try to grab as much milk as they can from the planet to feed the hungry moggies of the world.
If you’ve played the original you’ll feel right at home with the new update. The game still keeps the retro look and feel and has the same great chip sound track while the visuals have had a slight makeover. There is the addition now of subtle animations and background effects throughout the game and while these aren’t necessary they are a welcome bonus to the aesthetics of the game. There are also new and improved visual effects for some of the bosses that you’ll encouter during the game. Nothing major overall as too much would really detract from the 16-bit styling of the game but it works well enough.
But what about the other improvements? Glory hunters will be overjoyed to know that the game now offers Leaderboard and Trophy support (the biggest drawbacks from the PlayStation Mobile version) and the user interface has been tweaked to make accessing the game and understanding your in-game stats (lives etc) much easier to follow. It may be a minor point to many, but it does make the gameplay experience a little smoother so they’re welcome additions. All too often, developers focus on the visuals and the gameplay and forget about the front end and the basics.
The final icing on the cake in the basic enhancements is the fact that not only is the game Cross Buy with the PS4 bersion but it’s also Cross Save as well, accessible easily from the title screen. As for the game itself, there are four additional levels, the addition of bosses at the end of each of the game’s four main areas of play, a secondary rechargeable weapon (think R-Type) and a second “Easy” difficulty level for those of you who prefer your shoot-em-ups to go a little easier on you.
The real difference that you notice when you take a closer look at the menu is the addition of the Arcade Mode. Tikipod have added a brand new variant of the game for this update combining elements of Defender with Konami’s arcade smash hit Gradius. This time, you have a range of power-ups at your disposal that you have to buy using crystals that you collect during play. Green orbs will float in the water at random in the game, destroy these and crystals will be left behind and as you collect enough you’ll see a choice of weapons highlighted in a list at the bottom of the screen. When your chosen weapon is highlighted, press Square to “buy” it and unleash hell on everything in your path! I have to be honest and say that I actually prefer this to the main game mode. It’s still the same game and progresses through the levels the same way but combining the Aqua Kitty structure and gameplay with Gradius’ weapon system really takes the game to a whole new level.
Sadly it’s not perfect. There were occasions when I experienced some slowdown during the game. It didn’t happen very often and was usually only confined to moments near to the end of levels when there were a lot of enemies on screen at once of at the end of stages when bosses were on screen alongside a large number of enemies and bullets. It didn’t really spoil the game too much or detract from the game to the point that I wasn’t able to react to save my own rear end when I needed to but it was irritating and because of that it’s not quite the stunning game it could have been.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great shooter for the PS Vita and is certainly a game that should be high on the priority list for anyone who loves old-school arcade shooters and it’s certainly got the same timeless appeal that it’s PSM counterpart has so even with the slowdown problem I have no hesitation in recommending Aqua Kitty to everyone. And if you’re someone with a PlayStation TV this is one of those games that looks absolutely fantastic on the big screen making it a perfect purchase for those with the latest addition to the PlayStation family.
At A Glance
- Title: Aqua Kitty Milk Mine Defender DX
- Publisher: Tikipod
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS4)
- Cross Save: Yes
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes
- Memory Card Space Needed: Mb