If you have a cat anywhere nearby when you play Jones on Fire, it's going to start snooping around at what you're doing. As this is an endless runner about saving kitties from a raging inferno you're going to be hearing a lot of appreciative meows, and your cat's going to want to know what's up. Probably for some time, too, as it's easy to get caught up in this game, enjoying endless waves of happy cats being pulled from the jaws of death.

Jones is a firewoman on a mission: save all the cats from a blazing forest fire. She didn't bother bringing any equipment, though, so all she can do is jump and slide around obstacles as she constantly runs away from the fire. Cats float in the air along her path, and she has to grab as many as she can without stopping. Not that her job is easy, but it's simple to jump right in and get to work.

You start off only being able to take two hits before you fall into the fire and lose the stage. After your first hit you can see the wall of flames rushing up behind you. This increases the tension even though, realistically, it has no effect on the gameplay. Still, something about seeing a bright red wall of death rushing up behind you is enough to make you panic a bit, making more mistakes as you succumb to pressure. It's a neat idea that adds to the intensity of what is otherwise a cute game.

As you progress it adds taller hazards and more complex things to navigate. The game takes some time before it gets extremely challenging, though, typically staying relaxed and soothing, for the most part. Jones moves at a leisurely pace for someone trying to get ahead of a fire, so even in the harder sections you have lots of time to see the hazards ahead and deal with them. It's in the placement of the kitty collectibles that the game gets you into trouble; if you get too caught up on collecting them, you might jump right into the path of danger.

Cat placement and the slow pace create an interesting problem for players. It's not that hard of a game if you play cautiously, but your main task (and a lot of the appeal) is in collecting the most cats, which encourages risk. This is especially true of the gold cats in each level, which are very important to collect. So, most of the hits come from the player getting too greedy and not paying attention. The result feels fair, as you can only blame yourself for your mistakes; the developers may have put in things to tempt you to make mistakes, but you're the one who fell for it.

If you hurt yourself too badly, you lose a life. Lose all three and it's back to the start of the game unless you want to spend some of the currency the cats give you at the end of each level. A game over isn't all that bad, though, as you keep all of your kitty money; you just have to start over from the first stage. Higher stages give you a better multiplier for your cat cash, though, so you may want to pay for a continue. It's up to you, depending on what you're saving up for.

The cat money can be used to buy upgrades from the firehouse at the beginning of every stage. You can grab permanent power-ups, extensions to your life bar, add helpful items, or just give yourself a boost right from the start. It's all handy stuff, but most of it will require you to save up for a couple of levels before you can buy it.

The nuisance is that there are two types of cat money - basic and gold. It's easiest to get the basic money, but it becomes rather irrelevant after only a handful of purchases, because almost everything in the shop requires the gold money. This can only be acquired from saving gold cats and completing side missions during the stages, so you rarely have all that much of it. As for the basic cash, you can buy a few initial powers and some minor boosts for the start of a stage (where a boost is all but pointless), but it's soon made pretty much useless.

This is meant to keep players pushing for higher stages to buy the best stuff, but it does make for slow going when buying things. By itself, that's not a problem, but it is irritating to look at a giant pool of useless cash you're accruing and the tiny amount of actually useful gold you have in comparison.

You can earn more gold by completing missions throughout the game, though. These can range from escaping the fire (surviving with only one hit left for long periods of time), stepping on burning logs, rescuing a set amount of gold cats, or reaching specific levels. They provide nice little bonuses here and there, and give the player something new (and possibly dangerous) to do while going through the levels. They help keep the game fresh when you might otherwise be tired of just jumping and dashing.

Jones on Fire is a cute game, too. The boxy voxel character and cats are charming, giving it a lighthearted feel even as you fall to your fiery death. The sound helps with its array of various meows for sound effects, as well as the upbeat soundtrack. Everything feels bouncy and light despite the danger you're actually in, and helps keep up the appeal of taking another shot at saving feline lives in the burning woods. However, you may get sick of seeing relatively similar forests if you play for any sort of extended period.

Conclusion

Jones on Fire is charming, and it's a fun romp with controls that anyone can pick up and play in moments. It has just enough little incentives to encourages players to keep at it, and its cute sound effects and fun soundtrack make it easy to just while away the time while saving cats. The currency system may get a little aggravating, but as a silly diversion Jones on Fire is well worth consideration.