• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Aw, Shoot

Shooty and the Catfish is a unique RPG. It sets itself apart from more traditional works with its style and originality. It’s episodic, but this first one isn’t super-long. I cleared it in about an hour, so I guess each chapter will be fairly bite-sized. The game has a few things going for it, but also parts that could be more fleshed out.

Let’s Talk About Graphics!

I’d say this is the game’s strongest aspect. It uses an aesthetic reminiscent of old Game Boy games, complete with limited color palettes and simple (but effective) visuals. It exudes retro style and might hit that nostalgia point for older gamers.

Naturally, this means all the graphics are custom-made, and I found nothing to complain about with them. It knows the look it’s going for and nails it perfectly. The pixel art is both solid and functional; it’s always clear where you can walk and where you can’t. Objects are easily identifiable and the most trouble I had was thinking a mine cart track looked like a fence (which was a non-issue anyway).

Enemies also have some creative and interesting designs. You won’t be fighting the same tired fantasy monsters you usually find in RPGs, and some creatures are downright bizarre (like the patches of grassy earth that run around on shapely lady legs). There’s plenty of interesting stuff to see on the graphical side of things, so I’m happy to say the game has this spot-on.

Let’s Talk About Sound!

Like the visuals, it’s all custom-made for this game, which is always welcome over anything the RTP has to offer. Sounds are put to good use and nothing felt out of place to me. The music is of the electro-dance variety and it has some decent tunes. It’s not exactly atmospheric, but it’s enjoyable and fits the tone. It also might not be what you expect from a Game Boy style game, but it works.

Let’s Talk About Story!

This isn’t a serious game by any stretch, and the writing is suitably tongue-in-cheek. If the title didn’t give it away, you play as the gunslinger Shooty and his catfish companion, Zaat. They’re a mercenary duo that takes odd jobs to clear out weird monsters. Their employer is a three-eyed floating skull named Slim Grim. Did I mention this game isn’t serious?

The dialogue is meant to be quirky and amusing, and for the most part, it is. However, it kind of defaults to “vulgarity = funny” so there’s a bunch of swearing and some off-color jokes. Depending on your sense of humor, your mileage will vary. Personally, I think it’s a little out of place for how the rest of the game presents itself. At worst, it just comes off as edgy. As a result, characterization is a little flat. Shooty and Zaat are both quite sassy, and Slim talks like existence is a chore. The main characters chat pretty often, so they’re getting enough screen time. They just don’t have a lot of depth to them, but for the kind of game it is, that’s not really a problem. Along their way, they meet a bunch of goofy NPCs that are mostly around for gags. Like I said, depending on what you find funny, there could be plenty here for you.

Let’s Talk About Gameplay!

I wish there was more I could say about this, but it’s where the game falls short for me. In spite of the game’s style and direction, it’s a fairly traditional RPG and the gameplay itself is very shallow. World map navigation isn’t much to speak of; you explore, talk to people, find treasures, and fight monsters. It uses touch encounters with enemies that don’t chase, so you can pick and choose your fights or wipe out everything if you so wish.

The combat is where I feel this game truly falls flat. The main issue is that your battle options are just too limited. In any given fight, your attack choices are either hitting the enemy, or expending a resource to hit the enemy harder. You can also defend or use healing items, but the characters can only heal themselves, so you have to be careful not to get KO’d (which is not difficult). There’s decent variety in the enemies you see, but their distinctions don’t matter when your options are so bare-bones. In most cases, you’re best off spamming regular attacks and saving your resources for bulkier targets.

While it is more efficient to use stronger attacks, it also becomes costly in a hurry. For once, the economy matters since you typically find gold one piece at a time. The cost of goods is also low, but depending on what you need, you could find yourself scraping for pennies fairly quick. To offset this balance choice, there are health restore stations at frequent intervals and saving can be done from anywhere.

Personally, I like that gold isn’t so easy to come by. It adds more meaning to your decisions at vending machines for what you prioritize to buy, but it almost feels too restrictive since most of what you want to buy is ammo for the strong attacks. Shooty needs bullets to fire his pistol, and Zaat needs...fish food to fire her insults. Fish food is 1 gold each, but she needs five pieces for the most basic insult she knows. Those costs can add up quick when you find gold so slowly.

There are also a few things that could be more intuitive. The menu is a bit clunky. While shopping, you can’t see how much of anything you already have, so you need to check in advance. There’s no place to see what your characters have equipped, and I wouldn’t have faith that I was using anything if it weren’t for the Optimize button. Equipment is not a major factor of battle, and you only find enough in the episode to cover both Shooty and Zaat. Even so, it would be nice to see what they’re wearing and how it affects their stats. In combat, you can auto-spam attacks by holding the selection key, but with only two party members, it can be easy to hold it too long when you meant to heal or do something else.

Let’s Wrap This Up...

It doesn’t seem this game is meant to be difficult at all. It’s more about the experience; exploring, meeting funny NPCs, fighting strange creatures, and the allure of adventure. However, I’m not sure what kind of audience the game is meant to appeal to. The lack of gameplay depth isn’t suited to older gamers, even though the aesthetic is meant to appeal to them. The strong language and juvenile humor feel more aimed toward a teenage crowd, but this may not be the style of game they’d look for. To me, it feels like there’s not quite enough of anything to satisfy on either front; it’s just a really basic game.

I wouldn’t say it’s bad by any stretch. It’s well put together and it’s built out of great assets, but it feels like no more than the sum of its parts. The story and gameplay leave a lot to be desired, and those are usually the two big sells for RPGs. It still has something to offer, but I think it could be doing more with what it has. With more episodes to come, there’s plenty of room for growth. As for this part, I give it a...

3.5/5 “A well-made game in need of a bit more substance.”


Two people having guns is a valid reason to shoot each other.

Posts

Pages: 1
Thanks for taking the time to write this in-depth review, being an episodic game it makes it very very easy to implement feedback! It's easy enough to say thank you for all of the kind words, but it's a little more time consuming to address the criticisms so let's dive in!

author=halibabica
It kind of defaults to “vulgarity = funny” so there’s a bunch of swearing and some off-color jokes. Depending on your sense of humor, your mileage will vary. Personally, I think it’s a little out of place for how the rest of the game presents itself.


There is definitely a lot more swearing in this episode when compared to the episodes that follow it. Most of the swearing comes now from Slim Grim almost exclusively (almost) as its a large part of his character and has been in previous film projects of mine that he has appeared in. The off-color comedy never really goes away, however, in fact in episode 2 it sort of doubles down so get ready for that... Comedy is of course always going to be subjective, the juxtaposition of the colorful and lighthearted visuals and the tone was largely inspired by games like Conkers Bad Fur Day and Giants Citizen Kabuto, but those titles are both quite hit and miss with people.

author=halibabica
World map navigation isn’t much to speak of; you explore, talk to people, find treasures, and fight monsters.


I definitely took a lot more time and care with the dungeon map layout and design than I did with overall world design, to me it was more important to carry that episodic feel, that said for people who enjoy more in-depth exploration and secrets it could definitely be an issue. It's not something I know that I could fix without ruining the quick pacing of the game.

author=halibabica
The combat is where I feel this game truly falls flat. The main issue is that your battle options are just too limited.


Completely agree, especially in this episode where you have so few options. For the full release, I am reworking the combat to take more advantage of buffs/debuffs to make things a little more interesting. I think I will also remove some of the encounters in this first dungeon since watching your video it felt a bit excessive and really highlight that simplicity.

author=halibabica
There are also a few things that could be more intuitive. The menu is a bit clunky. While shopping, you can’t see how much of anything you already have, so you need to check in advance. There’s no place to see what your characters have equipped, and I wouldn’t have faith that I was using anything if it weren’t for the Optimize button.


This was definitely an issue that needed addressing and I'm happy to say it has been rectified in the final release. The lack of information was due to my own boneheaded insistence on having the aspect ratio be the same as a real Gameboy game. Now that the game has been moved to widescreen all that important information is now easy to find and read.

author=halibabica
It doesn’t seem this game is meant to be difficult at all. It’s more about the experience; exploring, meeting funny NPCs, fighting strange creatures, and the allure of adventure. However, I’m not sure what kind of audience the game is meant to appeal to.


I'm glad you got the gist of the idea from the game, I never set out to make something complex or deep, it's not what I look for in RPGs, especially RPGM projects. I'm all about those weird surreal experiences that only indie devs take the chance on making and I guess my target audience is other people who enjoy games like Space Funeral and Hylics.

Thanks for taking the time to check out the first episode, or I guess the first demo of my project. After Episode 2 there were no standalone episodes released (they are all finished outside of battle animations, balancing and cutscenes). I will be sure to send you a steam key for the final game when it releases this year. :)
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
14678
Ah, I guess I should clarify that when I say world map navigation isn't much to speak of, I mean it's nothing out of the ordinary. It's not a problem for an RPG to stick to the staples like that. If anything, I'm glad I had an easy time navigating your maps. I never bumped into anything I felt I should be able to walk through, and getting around was no trouble at all.

I'm glad to hear that more combat options will become available in the future. If there was any one thing the experience really needed, I would say that was it.

The tone makes a little more sense now that you mentioned Conker as an example. I'm fine with games being subversive, even if the humor isn't quite my thing. I think what's missing here is an outward indication that it's meant to be that way. Like, you wouldn't know that this isn't an ordinary retro game until you see the first F-bomb in the dialogue. However, I'm not entirely sure how one would fix that. It feels like something you'd clue in through advertising, or somewhere subtle like in game tags. Even the box art for Conker shows him holding a beer next to his sexualized anthropomorphic girlfriend. It's a tricky thing to handle, but I at least get where you're coming from now.

I'll have to see where the rest ends up. It sounds pretty promising already!
author=halibabica
Ah, I guess I should clarify that when I say world map navigation isn't much to speak of, I mean it's nothing out of the ordinary. It's not a problem for an RPG to stick to the staples like that. If anything, I'm glad I had an easy time navigating your maps. I never bumped into anything I felt I should be able to walk through, and getting around was no trouble at all.


Ah okay, yeah I am super anal when it comes to mapping design, I wanted to make sure I avoided any of the unclear navigation I find myself hating in a lot of other games.

author=halibabica
The tone makes a little more sense now that you mentioned Conker as an example. I'm fine with games being subversive, even if the humor isn't quite my thing. I think what's missing here is an outward indication that it's meant to be that way. Like, you wouldn't know that this isn't an ordinary retro game until you see the first F-bomb in the dialogue. However, I'm not entirely sure how one would fix that. It feels like something you'd clue in through advertising, or somewhere subtle like in game tags. Even the box art for Conker shows him holding a beer next to his sexualized anthropomorphic girlfriend. It's a tricky thing to handle, but I at least get where you're coming from now.

I'll have to see where the rest ends up. It sounds pretty promising already!


I think the trailer is going to have to really push into that, though now the game's visuals have been completely rehauled maybe it won't be as surprising that the game has some more adult subject matter and themes.
Pages: 1