Thanks to PONOS for the review codes
Title: The Battle Cats POP!
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: 06/27/2016
The main game/story
In this enhanced version of the original mobile version, you take control of a band of monochromatic cats who try to take over the universe! Really, outside of the silly story given in the beginning and the ending, there’s not much else to point out in the story.
With the addition of the word “POP!” in the title, its safe to assume that this title has a focus on the 3D effect, but unfortunately the effect is nothing to write home about. It’s not as bad as some other titles, as during the battles it does show a nice amount of depth, but it’s hardly used in other parts of the game. Luckily, the game itself still looks as clean as it did on mobile, with the action taking place on the top screen while the entire bottom screen has your map and cat selection, making it super quick and easy to summon cats while also watching the action unfold, scrolling the current view from left to right using the circle pad, depending on the size of the current map.
When it comes to character design, all the ordinary cats and enemies are monochromatic balls of cuteness that look as if they came straight out of a comic book, although the further you progress in the game, the easier it is to upgrade your cats, which can change their appearance to give them a gold outline or a crazier appearance, along with the obvious increase in power. Of course, your enemies also gain similar changes as the game progresses.
Music and Sound
Really not much variety in this soundtrack, with a OST that consists mostly of funky music for most of the battle themes, and really forgettable tracks for the rest of the music. Sound effects consist mostly of things like chomps and bonks, although by the end of the main story you’re likely to hear the constant sound of spending your cash on new cats over the usual sound effects.
At its core, The Battle Cats Pop is a tower defense game, where the main objective of each level is to reach the other side of the map and attack the enemy base before they can do the same to yours. Throughout three chapters that take place in different areas of the world, you lead your army of cats to destroy every base! While it does start off as a simple game that goes by very slowly, once you make your way to Japan (only around 15 minutes into the game) and unlock more features, the game starts to truly shine. The XP you gained from the previous battles can be used to increase the strength of the cats you started out with, (The max starting out at Level 10 before you eventually gain the ability to go to level 20) or to buy new cats with abilities ranging from a speedy Giraffe cat to a UFO cat. You can also use the rare Cat Food items to buy special items or experience to level up faster, although Cat Food isn’t something you can obtain as easily as XP.
While clearing each of the levels, you might also gain a rare treasure item, which can help to grant bonuses to your team depending on if you get all of the Bronze, Silver or Gold versions of the medals, which can help alongside the bonuses you can buy from the shop. This really adds to the game’s replay value, which is already rather long due to the crazy amount of things to do. While the game does seem like it could be cleared rather quickly, some of the later levels ramp the difficulty up quite a bit, requiring you to upgrade and to carefully choose which cats to spend your money on or what production level to upgrade to.
Outside of the lengthy Story Mode (Which took my fellow reviewer friend around 24 hours of total playtime to complete), there’s also a challenge mode and a multiplayer VS mode to try out. Thanks to the developer, I was able to test out the multiplayer with a close friend of mine, and its by far the best mode of the game, with matches that can easily get incredibly competitive if you adjust the handicaps just right. For example, my friend was near the end-game while I was almost done with chapter one, but by increasing my handicap in the pre-battle options, I was able to have an even and fair fight, which is a great thing for the developers to include. Unfortunately, this multiplayer mode is local only, and there’s no option for download play of any kind, meaning that you can only battle against others who own the game in your local area. While it’s a blast to play when you have a friend to play with, its really depressing that you cannot take on cat owners from all over the world, especially when you consider the fact that playing multiplayer matches can grant you helpful bonuses such as XP or more Cat Food in huge amounts.
In conclusion, The Battle Cats POP does a fantastic job of bringing an addictive mobile experience to the 3DS handheld, with a ton of levels and medals to collect that makes the title more than worth the $10 price tag in terms of value. Unfortunately, the lack of online multiplayer is incredibly disappointing considering how fun the local multiplayer is, and the main story mode has an energy meter for some baffling reason. Once it runs out, you simply have to wait for it to refill, which for a title like this is a confusing leftover to include from the mobile version. While it doesn’t take an eternity to refill, it is a confusing addition nonetheless. Still, if you can look past those two minor flaws, you’ll find a fantastic tower defense game, and if you can get a buddy to play multiplayer with you, then you’ll be in for a treat! I give The Battle Cats POP an 8 out of 10, and strongly recommend it to all tower defense fans, as even if you don’t have a buddy around the single player has plenty of content to justify the price tag.