Boasting what is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous titles ever, Cat Girl Without Salad: Amuse-Bouche actually started life as an April Fool’s joke back in 2013. Skip ahead seven years, and it’s now an actual, tangible game; a really good one at that. It’s a shoot-em-up at heart, but its gameplay is also injected with wonderful elements from RPGs, puzzle games, and even dance titles. There’s nothing quite like it around, and if nothing else, you’re bound to get a few giggles out of it.
You play as Kebako, a bounty hunter who also happens to be quite an accomplished chef. Alongside her side-kick Squiddie, you’ll embark across three space-themed levels filled to the brim with wacky enemies and challenging boss characters. Kebako and Squiddie spend a good chunk of time chatting to one another, and the writing here is excellent, filled with brilliant food-themed gags supported by superb voice-over work; Kebako in particular displays a care-free attitude that’s wonderfully endearing.
The gameplay itself is excellent. Kebako’s main weapon is a pea shooter, which is adequate enough for the most part, but defeating enemies will occasionally grant you a new weapon, and they’re so much fun. Based on various game genres, there’s a Sports Gun which acts as a golf club, allowing you to whack golf balls in all sorts of directions, an Arcade Gun that fires out a Pac-Man-esque character who gobbles up enemies, and several more just as unique. You’ll also need to pick up food items to replenish your health – Kebako loves hamburgers and ice cream, but you’ll need to make sure you avoid the dreaded salad.
Cat Girl Without Salad’s graphics are pretty basic for the most part, but they’re very colourful and very cute. The character design is superb, however, and you’ll very quickly come to learn how certain enemies might behave, or how much HP they possess, based on their unique visuals. We have to give a special shout out to the boss characters, too; Chefinoff is a resentful chef who uses giant kitchen utensils as weapons, and he’s absolutely delightful. You get a real sense that Kebako really got under these characters’ skins at some point in life, and their pure vitriol towards her is hilarious, setting the stage for future conflicts.
With a very short runtime, those familiar with the shoot-em-up genre might not get a lot out of this game. We think this reflects quite well in its price, however, and for a game that started life as an April Fool’s joke, it’s actually very accomplished. If you’re up for a few laughs, definitely give this one a go; it’s a great start to what could potentially be a highly enjoyable, lasting franchise.