Cats can be devilish creatures. They can be cool as a cucumber one moment, nuzzling their squishy faces into their owners’ neck, before flipping and ripping the furniture apart in a rage that would make even Gordon Ramsay quiver in his boots. Fisti-Fluffs is the latest game to feature the furious felines, focusing on party games that let you unleash your inner rage in a showcase of pure destruction. The problem, however, is it largely fails as a compelling, lasting experience.
In a nutshell, Fisti-Fluffs pits you against up to three human or AI opponents in arena environments based on everyday locations such as Apartment, Backyard, Cat Café, and uhh… Magic Cabin. Okay, so they’re not all based on everyday locations. The combat feels absolutely chaotic, but not necessarily in a good way. You can launch yourself at your enemies with ‘Y’, swiping at them with your claws, or you can wriggle the right analogue stick around to simulate the movement of the cats’ limbs, lashing out at your opponents with reckless abandon.
You can also guard by forming a protective bubble around yourself, and there’s also a dedicated button to ‘meow’ on command (because of course there is). All in all, the controls feel simplistic and accessible, so hypothetically this should result in a slick, engaging experience. Unfortunately though, moving your cat around and unleashing attacks feels sloppy at best, and nigh on unplayable at worst. Your cat will often get stuck in the environment, or you’ll miss your attacks entirely due to the ‘slippery’ nature of the movement; it genuinely feels like you’re skating on ice the entire time.
The ‘versus’ modes offer different varying objectives that at least attempt to inject a bit of variety to the gameplay. The standard mode is a basic deathmatch; scratch until you’re the last cat standing-type deal. Then you’ve got a ‘king of the hill’ mode in which you need to secure and retain a golden crown, and finally you’ve got a mode in which you simply need to destroy as much of the environment as possible, with monetary damage acting as your score.
Aside from the PvP modes, there’s also a co-op option in which you and three other cats (no bot option here, by the way) need to defend a house against wave after wave of rats. Again, a simple premise that should work in theory, but the control issues mentioned here are only exacerbated thanks to the tiny moving targets skirting about the environment. Having said that, with a much larger play area, co-op play does at least feel a bit more cohesive — a bit less manic — than the PvP modes. A bit more focus and effort with this aspect of the game would have gone a long way.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a game about cats if you couldn’t care for them and play with them. Fisti-Fluffs features a ‘Playroom’ which allows you to create your own feline friend, name them, and chuck a ball around the room for them to chase. This is pretty much the extent of the interactions available. There’s a cursor which lets you stroke your cat, but trust us, you’ll be bored of this after just a few short moments. The ‘Playroom’ feature is a welcome addition to the game, but feels rather half-hearted and limited.
All in all, Fisti-Fluffs feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity. The basic premise is sound, and the modes on offer do provide a decent amount of variety, but thanks to poor gameplay and sloppy controls, none of the experience comes together. Add to that the rather bland visuals and limited environments, and you’ve got a game that simply can’t hold a candle to stronger examples of brawlers on Switch.