iPhone Life magazine

Review: Pickpawcket by Loopycube

It appears that Loopycube has taken the concept of a cat burglar quite literally.  The art world has gone to the dogs, and it’s up to you to infiltrate their most famous museums and take back the precious paintings the bowsers have stolen from you.  This cute puzzle game actually manages to provide a decent challenge while not becoming overwhelming or ever feeling too basic (the first couple of levels aside).  There’s not much new here, but it’s a nice combination of elements that work well together and make for some entertaining sleuthing.

Isn't This Overkill?
 

Your task is to sneak into three different museums and recover the 20 cat paintings that each contains.  To do this you’ll have to maneuver past a bunch of canine guards.  On the plus side, the dogs seem to have a bit of a blind side, and can only see you if you cross over well defined areas, or happen to get too close to the dog itself.  On the down side, they are very diligent at what they do, and as the levels progress you get longer paths to traverse, more dogs to try and stop you, and generally a lot more activity.  Amidst all this peril, will you have what it takes to recover the 3 cat gems and ultimately the painting that hangs on the wall of each level?

Thankfully, you do have a few tricks up your sleeve.  Most importantly, of course, is the fact that you are technically “invisible” as long as you stay out of the dogs’ line of sight.  Additionally, you can pick up a dog costume that temporarily confuses the pups into thinking you’re one of them.  Of course I’ve personally never seen a blue dog before, but whatever.  Next up are the TVs that you can turn on to momentarily distract the dogs, because everyone knows how much dogs love TV.  Each TV can only be activated once, however, so use them wisely.  Next up is the hammer, which you’ll acquire in later levels.  You’ll get three hammers per level, and each hammer allows you to stun one dog for a couple of seconds.  Finally you’ll get gates that you can raise and lower, and when used effectively can actually block in dogs (or keep them from getting in to get you).

Fine Dining
 

To pass a level you just need to get the painting. However, to move on to the next museum you have to gather a certain number of gems.  Your final score is based on getting the painting as well as number of gems collected, number of unused hammers, and the amount of time it takes you to complete a level.  Unfortunately, there is no social integration in Pickpawcket, unless you count the ability to Facebook the fact that you scored a particular painting.  This seems like a perfect game for some OpenFeint or Game Center achievements.  I’d love to try for the “complete 20 levels without using any special aids” achievement.

So how do you steal from the canines to give back to the felines?  To control the cat you just tap and hold where you want the cat to go.  This works well for the most part, though oddly enough it sometimes makes it hard to round corners or be as precise as you like.  That actually seems counter intuitive, but that’s the way it felt to me.  Turning on TVs, stunning dogs and opening and closing gates are all simply a matter of tapping.  The main issue with that is that on the small screen it’s not uncommon to accidentally tap the wrong thing at just the wrong time.  Thankfully you can replay a level as many times as you need to.

Walk The Dog
 

The graphics are cute, but I honestly wasn’t that keen on them at first.  The more I play the game, however, the more they grow on me, especially in levels that are more heavily populated.  The characters look decent, and the animation is actually pretty good.  I especially like how the different dogs react to catching the cat and how the cat bounces once he has the painting.  What’s really neat, however, is how they modeled all the paintings after real life works of art.  If you’re so inclined, you can even skim the gallery of collected paintings to see the names of their real life inspirations.

The sound effects do a great job of complementing the atmosphere.  It actually sounds like the audio from a cartoon, and there is no one sound annoying or pervasive enough to make you want to shut off the effects.  The music has a nice mystery / action vibe to it, and there’s enough variety over time to keep it from getting boring.

Lady Is A Cat
 

There’s no question that puzzle games are a dime a dozen these days on the App Store, and there are more and more being released every day.  Still, if you take the time to sift through the masses you can certainly find a few hidden gems to keep you busy.  There’s no question that Pickpawcket is one such gem.  It’s also a great example of how you don’t need physics for a puzzle game to be fun.

Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.