Flip the Cats follows the tradition of many of the most successful mobile games; it is, at its core, an old favourite with new visuals.
Based on traditional board game Othello, Flip the Cats is not, if we’re being honest, going to win any awards for gameplay innovation. The game itself is solid and enjoyable… Its Othello for goodness sake, of course it’s fun. For those who have not come across Othello before, it’s a kind of cross between Tic-Tac-Toe and Connect 4, with players taking turn to place a counter of their colour on the board. If you place your counter in such a way as to make one or more of your opponent’s counters be sandwiched between two of yours, all the counters in that row become your colour. The aim of the game is to have the most counters of your colour on the board when all the spaces are filled. Pretty simple a concept all told, but as with many old favourites, simple doesn’t mean boring by any means. In fact the game has a great many nuances and requires a surprising amount of tactical thinking to win.
The way Kwalee (the developers) have made the game their own is with their theme. In this case, the players no longer lay down a black or white token, but in fact are represented by either blue or orange cats. Nothing too mind-blowing, but a nice aesthetic none the less. While for some this may be something of a blasphemy on the old game, I think it’s a good move, with the injection of cartoonish imagery and colours adding a bit of character to the once monochrome proceedings.
Where Flip the Cats comes into its own, however, is in its core implementation. This is an entirely multiplayer experience, with the game linking you up with your choice of opponent. You can invite Facebook friends, email contact, browse other active players or just choose to be dropped into a random match. This is an unusual feature and, for me, a complete stroke of genius. Fitting in with the always-connected nature of phones, this is a kind of modern day chess-by-mail. You make your move and then wait for your opponent to receive it and submit their move, ready to plot your riposte and so on. While this can, at times, slow the game down, I never found much difficulty finding a regular game and the fact that you can have a large number of games on the go at one time means you’re never really kept waiting long. The only downside to this aspect of the game and, indeed, any multiplayer-only game, is that the difficulty level varies greatly between games, but such is the nature of the genre.
Perhaps the best feature of the game is the live updating of your world ranking (Number 61 for me at time of writing thank you!). What may initially seem like an arbitrary gimmick will quickly become a minor obsession, driving you on to that magical ‘just one more game’ moment.
Casual game developers strive day and night, virtually killing themselves in the quest for that factor in a game that keeps you coming back for more, almost against your will. It’s virtually the Valhalla of game developers and Kwalee seem to have achieved it.
Is Flip the Cats a brilliant piece of gaming development? In all honesty no, but what it is, is a fantastically addictive take on an old puzzle game and that is, pretty much, as good as it could have been. Kwalee have taken the game of Othello and near as damn it perfected that.
I would go on, but I’ve just got to get one more game in…
Flip the Cats is available now on the iOs App Store or you can click on this link: www.flipthecats.com
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Paul Izod is a lifelong gamer. Since he was old enough to tap at his Dad's PC's keyboard he's been a gamer. Dedicated and often opinionated, you can be sure he'll always have something interesting to say about the subject at hand. Find him on Twitter at @PaulIzod or @FaultyPixelUK or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org