My daughter and I have discovered our latest iPad obsession, a little game called Neko Atsume. At least I think that is what it is called. The whole thing is in Japanese, so I am just going on what Liore called it when she mentions the game.
Of course, being something of a cat person, I had to get it. And getting my daughter interested only required me to show her the first cat that showed up, which shoved itself into a box.
Figuring out what to do after that… well, that was the challenge. My daughter, blessed with uninhibited adventurousness of youth, took over and clicked and experimented and figured out the basics of the game.
You assume the role of that most annoying person in the neighborhood, the one that puts out food for stray cats. Seriously, this doesn’t sound so bad, but our neighbor’s son had a girlfriend that used to visit and put out food for stray cats, and with food out stray cats will show up out of the woodwork.
Then the two of them broke up and the girlfriend went away… but the stray cats remained, looking for food, yowling, fighting, pooping, knocking crap over, and generally outliving their cuteness. This is what happens when you feed stray cats.
And this is also, essentially, what Neko Atsume is about. You put some food out in your yard, along with some cat toys, and wait for the kitties to show up. When they do, the eat some food and play with the toys. Then you take pictures of them. And if they are pleased, they bring you fish, which are the in-game currency, so you can use the fish to buy them more food and more toys, which attracts more cats and so on. And some times they even bring you a special present.
So you can end up with a yard… and a living room… full of the local strays eating your food and playing with the things you have purchased. And then you will truly be the neighborhood menace.
The endless cycle is made interesting but the adorable art style, the desire to “collect” and name more cats, and their somewhat reckless enjoyment of what you leave out for them.
Some cats are attracted to certain toys. Better food is more likely to attract rare cats. Then there is the cat I named “Fatso” who shows up every now and again and eats all the food out of the outside bowl.
All of which my daughter mostly managed to figure out on her own and then teach me. The main problem we have had has been that, at certain points, doing the right thing requires some knowledge of Japanese. We end up at this dialog state fairly often.
In my mind it ought to map to “gold is OK and silver is Cancel” but is probably is more like “Yes/No” or “Agree/Disagree” or something that makes it contextually flexible depending on what the question is in the alter. So most of the time hitting the gold answer is “do the thing I am trying to do,” but maybe 20% of the time silver is actually “do the thing I am trying to do.”
Anyway, we hit a plateau of putting out food, taking pictures, and buying some new toys now and again. But there was still a bunch of cats we had not seen yet. There is a definitive list of cats for the game and the goal is, as much as there is a goal beyond just being cute, appears to be to see them all. It was time to go out and find a bit of help.
Google led me to another blog where somebody has mapped out most of the ins and outs of the game and how to do all the things and even get some free fish on a daily basis. The post, How to Play Neko Atsume, is a bit out of date now, as there was an update earlier this week that changed up a number of the windows and added a thing or two I haven’t figured out yet. But all the basics are there.
And so now every time we get a new cat or something cute shows up I run over to my daughter and show her and we get all excited about our virtual cat life. And there is still a bit to discover. If I understand it correctly, you can redecorate the locations as well.
All in all it is too cute, and the app is free on iTunes. We have had enough fun that I tossed in $5.00 for some of the premium currency to buy a few of the special cat toys.