I almost forgot all about April Fool’s Day. It’s usually a really fun time to go on the Internet to see what are some of the crazy gags companies would do during this festive day. Alas, a lot of them, such as Google, are skipping this year because of the coronavirus outbreak that’s currently happening all around the world. I kind of get why because it can feel inappropriate to be doing something humorous during a time of crisis. But, at the same time, I do think this is actually the best time to toss in a few lighthearted fun stuff. We can’t be serious all the time. We need at least a few moments away from all the problems in a time of crisis, after all.
Thankfully, there are some companies that still pushed through with their annual April Fool’s joke. Capcom is one of those companies and, while their “pranks” have never been particularly been funny, they’ve always been rather creative. This year is no different. This year, Capcom made a game called Neco Drop. And it’s super fun and addictive!
Neco Drop is basically a version of the very popular Candy Crush game. You pick a stage and there are specific goals you have to complete in order to pass the level. It might me something as simple as clearing out a specific number of colored gems or something as complicated as destroying all the boxes in the stage. You only have a limited number of moves and, if you don’t meet the requirements before you run out of turns, you lose the stage.
However, what makes Neco Drop feel much more special is the collecting aspect. You see, each stage is represented by a cat. Not just any normal cat, mind you. But a cat that’s basically a parody of Capcom’s very successful Street Fighter brand. Specifically, all the characters from Street Fighter V has their own cat persona. Oh, they’re not called Ryu or Chun-Li or anything like that. They’re given names like Headband or Chun-Chun. Basically, if you beat the stage, you’re given a chance to befriend the cat of that stage.
I will say that they’re all drawn in a very cute way and most of them do have features that represent their Street Fighter personas. As there are a total of forty selectable characters in Street Fighter V, Neco Drop has a total of forty cats to collect. It seems like a lot but, since each stage only takes around a minute or two to finish, it can be done in a couple of hours.
However, Capcom did put up a roadblock if your goal is to collect all forty cats as only four of them will appear on the stage select screen at a time. This makes it much more difficult to get the cat that you’re missing because he or she might not be one of the four at that time. So you’ll be forced to pick one of the four cats that you’ve already “befriended” already. It’s not all that bad because each cat does have a total of nine (because cats have nine lives) catchphrases you can view in their bio. I do kind of wish that they had a different illustration for each catchphrase, though, for more visual impact.
Each cat/stage basically has the same opening setup and goal. So, if you manage to figure out how Capcom laid out the stage and find the solution, it should be very simple to keep on finishing the stage to collect all the sayings.
But, even if you do there is still a little matter of actually befriending the cat even if you do complete the goals set up by the stage. At the end, you still have to kind of coax the cat out of his or her hiding place. In order to do that, you lay out some cat treats. There are four levels of cat food you can give to your Street Fighter themed cat friends.
Unfortunately, you don’t have full control over the food you show the cat. There are four levels of treats you can give but what you give is determined by a randomized spinning wheel. The better you do in the puzzle aspect of the game, the better the chances you have to give better food. Some cats do seem to be more picky than others as a few of them, particularly the “boss” type characters, will not befriend you despite giving them the third ranked food a lot of the times. It’s mostly still random, however, as there is a chance they will accept it. Not really sure how it works but all I can see is that, the better you do, the bigger your chance of getting the cat in your collection.
While it was the collecting aspect of the game that did keep me playing, the actual puzzle game is very enjoyable, too. While it basically apes Candy Crush with the entire “match the gems” gameplay, it’s both more simple to play and much more complex that you would realize. You only have to match two gems of the same color to activate them. But the game does teach you to try to match up more than that in order to beat some of the stages. If you match 4 to 6 gems, you’ll get a mouse that will clear an entire row or column of gems instantly. Match 7 to 8, you’ll get an explosive balloon that will destroy the surrounding gems around it. 9 or more will create a ball of yarn that will remove every gem of the same color. There are also special stages that have crystals that will explode if you match them with gems of the same color.
You will need to remember these special combinations as you’ll need them to clear some of the stages. Some stages can be frustrating to figure out as they have special gimmicks and goals. As mentioned before, each stage has a different set of goals. The tutorial doesn’t really explain them all well but, if you play the game, you’ll get the idea after a while. Some stages can be frustrating at first; the ones with the spacemen you have to get all the way to the bottom of the screen was my Waterloo for quite a bit. But, after I understood the general mechanics, I managed to develop some tricks to make it easier on myself. There still a bother to complete but they didn’t feel impossible like when I first played them.
While the game is really fun, I still have no idea how to “control” which of the horizontal and vertical gem clearer works. I’m not really sure if it’s random or if it’s based on where you click on the pattern but there have been more than just a few times when I would get the horizontal clearer when I really needed the vertical gem clearer. The instructions don’t really say how it works, sadly.
Now, as this is supposed to be their April Fool’s treat for fans, I’m not sure how long Neco Cats will be available. It’s totally possible that, by the time this review is up, which is after April Fool’s Day, the game won’t be available anymore. I will be leaving the link for Neco Cats right here just in case they don’t take it down. I hope they don’t because it’s a really fun distraction even though you can clear everything in just a few hours. It’s short but a really fun game.
Have you tried Neco Cats? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!