Freeplay Express: Neko Atsume
Neko Atsume is hard to explain to people without sounding insane. I’ve tried several times to encompass just what it is I like about the game and what makes it uniquely addicting, and most people just roll their eyes, make fun of me, and walk away. However, if you’re not afraid to be labeled a Crazy e-Cat Person, then there’s a lot to love about this adorable Japanese cat collecting game.
The point of Neko Atsume (loosely translated to mean “Cat Collecting”) is to…collect cats. Okay, that’s oversimplifying things. In fact, you need to attract cats to your yard using a variety of different foods and, especially, toys. As cats show up to eat and play, you can name them, thus adding them to your “collection” (they’re more like stray cats that use you for food and fun, which is just like them to do).
Different cats like different toys and even different types of food. There are lots of normal cats that’ll appear with a variety of patterns and colors. You can attract them with basic food (or the next food up that costs 30 silver fish, the in-game currency) and standard toys that also cost mainly silver fish to buy. However, the addicting and more puzzle-like portion of the game comes with trying to collect special cats.
Special cats don’t just show up for normal food and/or a standard cat bed. No, these rare beauties are attracted to specialty items that tend to cost more silver fish or harder-to-obtain gold fish. They’re usually themed to match their preference in toys or food (for instance, buying the highest cat tree will attract a cat that looks like a lynx wearing hiking gear), and when you see one, it adds a true sense of wonder, accomplishment, and pride.
You earn silver and gold fish from cats who give them to you almost as a thank you tip for providing food and playtime. Cats typically give you gold fish when they get to play with their favorite toy. There is a bit of strategy to this seeing as how some cats have a higher “attack” stat than others, meaning they can kick a weaker cat off a toy if they want, but I’ve ignored this mainly and had no troubles at all.
In fact, it’s probably best to ignore things like strategy and even understanding what the game is even telling you, because for now, it’s all in Japanese. There are some handy guides out there for you to use if you prefer, but I’d rather play the game blind, trying out new combos of food and toys to see what cat will arrive next. And if you really impress a cat with your yard, they’ll leave you a special gift, which can range from flower seeds to cicada husks to signed baseballs. These, to me, are the 2nd best things to receive in the game besides the cats themselves, and I excitedly show my fiancée every time a cat rewards me.
Neko Atsume isn’t the most addicting game out there, but I do find myself upset when I realize I haven’t fed my cats yet when I’m halfway through my day. You might find yourself checking the app every 10 minutes to see if a new cat has arrived or left you a gift, and that’s part of the fun. It’s like trying to catch when the game gives you a present, and if you’re timing is off, you’ll have to wait for a cat to come back. If you’ve got space on your home screen and aren’t afraid to break free of the Clash of Clans and Candy Crush mold of your friends, then you should check out Neko Atsume for Android and iPhone. Besides, the internet was made for cats, so why not have virtual ones living on your phone?