When I first saw Neko Atsume announced, I dismissed it as yet another clone of Farmville, albeit with kitties. Those types of games–especially if they involve me needing to get “friends” to do anything for me–are generally not my cup of tea.
And then Keidra and Viv started posting pictures from their games with cute kitties playing with balls or sitting on cushions. And because I–like the rest of the internet–am rendered powerless by even cartoon-digital images of cute kitties, I caved. Of course, it helps that Neko Atsume is free-to-play, so there’s zero sunk cost (provided I do not buy either gold fish or fish fish with actual money, which I won’t) other than time.
In a nutshell, Neko Atsume is a small section of a yard into which you can put various objects that would be of interest to cats–cardboard boxes, grocery bags, cat toys, pillows, feathers, catfood, etc. These things cost fish–normal fish (grey) and gold fish–and the game starts you with a small amount of each so that you can populate your yard with toys.
Different cats have different interests in the objects, and will come to sit on, eat, or play with the things in the yard. The object of the game, as the title suggests, is to collect all the kitties. You collect them by visiting your yard and taking photos of them–although they can visit you while you’re not paying attention, too, although you don’t gain as much information about them without photos.
Different cats have preferences for different things. Marshmallow likes the butterfly toy, Pumpkin likes the pillow, and Breezy likes to put his head in a plastic bag (which fortunately does not kill him, like it would in real life). When the cats leave, they give you presents of more fish–sometimes normal fish, sometimes gold fish. Today, I discovered a new mechanic when Spooky brought me a memento of a pink ribbon, which I guess means that he likes my yard (my cat toys bring all the cats to the yard, clearly). To the right, we see Patches, Bandit, and Tabitha.
One of the things I like the most about it is the fact that, unlike a lot of games of its ilk, it doesn’t require me to constantly pay attention to it. It doesn’t send me push notifications, doesn’t email me, and doesn’t punish me for leaving my yard abandoned for lengthy periods of time. Sure, if I don’t pay that much attention I miss several cats and they remain greyed out in my catbook, but most of them seem to come back, so I’m not overly concerned.
In addition, there’s something nice about being able to check in with the game periodically is that when there are kitties, I can take pictures of them doing something cute, and also gradually accrue more fish without needing to expend a lot of effort. It means that while I could pay actual money to expedite the process, I can still make progress (slowly). At the moment, I’m waiting to get enough gold fish to buy a yard expansion for my increasingly large collection of toys. I’m a little over halfway there.
I’m not even sure that technically Neko Atsume really qualifies as a game, exactly, but I’m still enjoying it. It even says “Meow Loading” every time I open the game, which always makes me smile (mostly because of an unhealthy fondness for the Meow game from Super Troopers). But the best part, hands (or paws) down, are the pictures of kitties. So here’s a small collection of my favorites.
This is Spots in a tube. Because cat-tubes are all the rage. The tube is a Large Goodie, which means it takes up the whole outdoor rug in my yard, which is actually kind of annoying, to be honest, since that means I can’t fit as many things in the yard. I really need to build up my gold fish in order to expand it.
There’s also Marshmallow with the Butterfly toy, Spooky under a box, Pumpkin adorably curled up in a basket, and Tubbs, who appears only to eat all the food and then disappear again. The game allows you to not only take as many of these as you wish, but to annoyingly share them with all your Twitter followers. (I’ve at least restricted myself to sharing them on my friends-only Twitter, so my professional colleagues aren’t getting non-stop kittens.)
And then there’s Joe DiMeowgio.