In Gaming Digits' Chicks vs. Kittens you’re charged with ensuring the safety of a mother bird defending her nest against a hoard of poultry-hungry kittens. This is achieved by hatching chicks and weaponising your offspring against the feline invaders. As you do.
Games for iOS live and die by their personality, though, not whether their premises make sense, and Chicks vs. Kittens has plenty of personality. Your ammunition flaps around happily while it waits to drop onto enemies, while the climbing kittens are more lovable than sneezing baby pandas, with animations that are clear and crisp even when they’re blown up to iPad size.
As far as the controls and gameplay go, Chicks vs. Kittens is a simple reaction test with a little bit of tower defence strategy thrown in to boot. The influence of the latter is manifested in the way you equip your chicks to perform different roles through the use of hats. Hats can be used to increase the strength of chicks, to upgrade your leaf-based economy or to change the way they attack kittens. Variations are constantly added throughout the game.
However, while Gaming Digits has gone to some lengths to layer a sense of strategy into the game, there’s no escaping the fact that Chicks vs. Kittens is a casual game at its root. It quickly becomes tedious if you play it for any length of time, even though it’s initially very fun. The longer you play, the more the constant introduction of new hats and ideas starts to feel like feature creep, rather than legitimate expansions to the scope of the game.
The level design is also rather minimalist. Every level is similar, with backgrounds only swapping out in every few levels, and only minor differences separating them otherwise. Some trees, for example, don’t shed the leaves you need to grow your economy, meaning you have to shake your iDevice to get them loose – one of Game Digits’ nicer ideas. Other levels vary the wind or speed at which leaves drop, which varies the pace, but does little to actually affect the game at large. The controls are intuitive, though, and the game-speed is occasionally enough to plumb you into a Zen state of tapping – one which can only be spoiled by an errant finger.
However, there are a few bugs that plague the game, which undermines the slickness of the controls and animations, and ultimately prevented us from finishing all 60 levels. The biggest problem involved levels that just don’t seem to end, despite the halt of advancing kittens. These bugs are likely to be ironed out in the next update, but for now it’s hard to overlook errors such as these.
Chicks vs. Kittens is a pleasant distraction if you need to kill time on the bus everyday; it's a fun game with a casual core at its heart. However, its charm isn’t enough to recommend it when there are bugs that mar the experience to this degree and plentiful similar titles on the AppStore.
Chicks vs. Kittens is available from the Apple AppStore for 59p or 99c.