NekoBuro – Catsblock review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Neko Entertainment
Developer: Neko Entertainment/F K Digital/ACHTUNG!CREATIVE!
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

While I obviously don’t have many issues with the Vita’s catalogue, I do wish that the handheld’s selection of Japanese games had more like NekoBuro – Catsblock, and fewer that fall into the whole “pervy teens save the world from demons” category. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a time and place for the likes of Monster Monpiece and Conception II, but I’d be lying if they didn’t feel a little squicky, too.

By contrast, there’s nothing squicky at all about NekoBuro . It’s really more “Squee!” Or “aww”. Or “adorbs”. Or, if you want proper English, so cute. It’s a game where you’re helping square-shaped space cats find their kitty friends. Provided you have a soul, how can that not reduce you to a giggling pile of goo?

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It should be noted, of course, that the actual gameplay will be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a match-3 game before. You try to line the kitties up, and get them off the board when you line three in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row. There are power-ups to factor in, too: some get rid of 3×3 squares, others remove entire rows and columns, and so on. As I said, if you’ve ever played a match-3 game before, you’ll be able to catch on here pretty quickly — which is a good thing, seeing as the game’s whole story mode can be beaten in just a few hours

But really, NekoBuro’s gameplay is secondary to its absolutely adorable framing device. The cats are all housed in a room, and the more levels you beat the more you can unlock to put in that room. Sometimes you get new furniture, sometimes you get new cat toys, sometimes you get new cat bios: whatever the end result, it only adds to the unbelievable cuteness.

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Which is actually pretty impressive, when you factor in how other cat-based games have fared on the Vita. Scram Kitty DX did nothing with its premise, and wasn’t too great, besides. Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defenders DX fared only slightly better. Aab’s Animals was just plain weird. But NekoBuro – Catsblock not only makes the most of its incredible adorableness, it also provides a fun (if short) gaming experience to boot.

Grade: A-