IMPRESSIONS: Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche

Friday, May 8th, 2020

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What better appetizer could there be for Shantae and the Seven Sirens than Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche? I actually would have gotten to Cat Girl much sooner had I realized how ridiculously short it was. Once I started playing, I managed to get the entirety of the game beaten in a little less than an hour. But you can’t just gauge a game by its length, so keep reading to see why I enjoyed this crazed adventure so much.

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In a way, it’s still remarkable that Cat Girl Without Salad got made at all, since it started as an April Fool’s joke. Then the fine folks at WayForward decided to do the impossible, and tailored it from joke into a game. Though the genre is most definitively SHMUP, it incorporates other game genres via Kebako’s attacks. She picks up game cartridges, which reward her with genre inspired weapons. Take for example the Platformer gun, which spawns tiny men that jump on enemy heads. Or the RPG gun, which either lets you slash with a gunblade or cast spells. Or take my favorite, the Arcade gun, which creates pink heads that gobble down foes in any direction. All the weapons are absolutely zany, which is perfect for a game this ambitiously silly.

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Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche has a plot, there is a loosely connected series of jokes and mayhem. It all revolves around the bounty hunting of the titular Cat Girl herself, Kebako, who is so forgetful and ditzy she makes Homer Simpson look intelligent by comparison. The entire story pretty much revolves around her wronging others and being forced to hunt them down, all without remembering why they’re actually mad and acting out. You really feel sympathy for her long suffering companion, Squiddie, who has to just sigh and go along with Kebako’s madness. Another way Kebako reminds me of Homer is her insatiable appetite for junk food. That even ties into the “Without Salad” part of the game title. You heal your hero with junk food like pizza and hamburgers, while salads actually hurt her, decreasing her health.

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As for how the game itself plays, it’s very smooth, other than a bit of occasional slowdown. A big reason is likely how bright, colorful and complex the artwork in the game is. It’s candy coated, neon goodness, and I love the aesthetic. I haven’t seen art this splashy since Vitamin Connection, and it really drew me in. Another great and totally unique aspect in Cat Girl Without Salad is the voice acting. Yes, you heard right. There’s tons of dialogue in this short game, with Kebako goofing off, Squiddie guiding her, and the bosses engaging her in banter. Kebako is voiced by the talented Cristina Vee, and according to IMDb the male voices are done by Todd Haberkorn. They both do a good job, but it’s hard not to be charmed and irritated in equal measure by Kebako. Though I will say, I adored the character of Chefinoff, who is the silliest parody of a RPG villain I’ve ever seen.

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Honestly, the only negative I have for Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche is that it ends so abruptly. There’s a grand total of 3 stages, and while I loved the gameplay and massive boss fights, it just feels like there could have been much more. Hell, once you beat the final boss, she even makes it sound like this is just the beginning, right before the credits roll. The only replay value is that beating the game lets you unlock the ability to cycle through the weapons in order to get higher scores. Then again, considering the game only costs $7.99, it’s hard to argue you don’t get your money’s worth.

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I’m glad I finally got to play Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche, especially on my beloved Nintendo Switch. I just hope there’s more on the horizon for this crazy game, be it DLC or even a much expanded sequel. After all, I was informed that “amuse-bouche” refers to a sort of appetizer. So maybe we’ll all get to feast on the main course sometime in the future…

Cat Girl | End

Here’s hoping this isn’t the end for Kebako

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.