|Genre||Indie, Party, Fighting|
|Platforms||PC (Steam, EGS), Mobile (Android, iOS), Nintendo Switch (reviewed)|
Fisti-Fluffs is sure to get some laughs out of you and your friends with its amusing physics-based mechanics and cute aesthetic. However, even with all of its charming gimmicks and additions, it has its struggles. For reasons involving originality and technical performance, it doesn’t quite land on all fours.
Spiritual Content: None.
Violence: The cats swat at each other and make angry or pained noises, but that’s as far as it goes. All of the violence in this game is cartoony; no blood or scratches are shown when cats fight, but scratches do show up on damaged furniture. When playing the Kibble Defense mode, the mice turn into ghosts when you kill them, but every other enemy disappears into a puff of smoke.
Language/Crude Humor: None.
Sexual Content: One outfit’s colorway options include a variety of LGBTQIA+ flags, but none of them are explicitly labeled as such.
Drug/Alcohol Use: None.
Other Negative Themes: One of the maps is a “Magic Cabin,” and it contains a few stereotypically witchy items such as a cauldron, some potions, and a broomstick. In the Destruction mode, the goal is to break or damage as many items as possible within the time limit.
Positive Themes: The Kibble Defense mode encourages coordination and communication between players. In the Playroom, you can have more friendly interactions with your cats by playing with them, petting them, changing their outfits, or simply observing them as they interact with their surroundings. There’s a slight educational element with randomized cat facts that pop up on the pause screens.
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
In Fisti-Fluffs, you play as a wide array of lovely cats who are ready to throw paws and beat out their opponents. You have the choice of choosing a pre-designed cat (most of which are inspired by the game’s team members’ actual cats) or customizing your own. There is a plethora of shape, pattern, and color options for each cat, along with plenty of clothing and accessory choices. Most of these options are available from the outset, but many of them have to be unlocked by completing achievements.
In addition to new outfits and accessories, earning achievements can also unlock new characters and filters, the latter of which can be used in the game’s photo mode. I could mess around with this mode for hours, as there’s nearly endless potential for cat-posing and scene-crafting. But to get to this mode, you need to hop into a match first.
There are five pretty standard game modes: Kibble Defense, Tussle!, Crown Control, Destruction, and Party. I feel like Kibble Defense, a tower-defense game that can be played solo or cooperatively, is the most interesting mode as it requires some sort of strategy. Tussle! is your typical battle royale, where the “last cat standing” is the winner. Crown control is fairly similar in that everyone’s fighting tooth and claw, except, in classic capture-the-flag fashion, they’re also trying to get and hold a crown for as long as possible.
Destruction mode encourages players to destroy to their hearts’ content, the goal being to rack up the highest dollar amount of property damage. Finally, Party mode cycles through each of the other modes and maps at random, crowning an ultimate victor based on who wins the most games. Every mode except Kibble Defense can be played on one of six maps, each of which has a distinct feel and music track. Not to mention, there’s the inspired inclusion of both a “Cute” default mode and an optional “Metal” mode. The Metal mode changes every music track to a metal version and adds little details like changing the loading screens and replacing the normal scratching sounds with guitar riffs.
However, the five modes are all pretty bare-bones, and they get old quickly. All of these concepts have been executed better in different games. For example, in the Playroom, you can pet and play with your cats much like you would in Nintendogs, but it’s extremely bland and a little buggy. I understand that this was probably a quick inclusion just for kicks, but it exemplifies my point. Nevertheless, the extra flourishes like the Metal and Photo modes help a lot with shaking this underlying sense of staleness.
And, as with any party game, it’s far better enjoyed with friends. My 10 to 11-year-old nieces and nephews and my young adult boyfriend alike had a blast with Fisti-Fluffs, all of us crying laughing at the cats’ hysterical noises and physics-based movements. For those reasons, it’s delightfully goofy and made all the more charming by its adorable visual style, which is exactly what you’d want and expect from a cat fighting game. As a result, the whole package has a very homegrown look and feel.
Unfortunately, this rough-around-the-edges aesthetic isn’t just an aesthetic. It constantly lags when too many items are moving around or when there are too many CPUs, let alone active players. A few times the game struggled to the point that it crashed, which I’m sure would be frustrating to younger players. Furthermore, glitches abound. Examples include cats’ names being swapped or disappearing entirely, an icon showing a different cat’s face, cats temporarily disappearing, and cats clipping through objects, just to name a few. But future updates are planned to integrate new features such as online play so, hopefully, these wrinkles get ironed out then.
However, what this game lacks in technical performance, it nearly makes up for in heart. You can easily tell how much love was put into Fisti-Fluffs, with sweet details like the pre-designed cats I mentioned earlier. Every aspect of this game feels based on the team’s personal experiences with their furry friends. While that love and dedication can cover a multitude of sins, it doesn’t quite cancel out the glaring issues at play here. If you’re a cat fanatic or the game is on sale, I’d say give it a go, but I’d have a hard time recommending it to just anyone at face value.
The Bottom Line
Fisti-Fluffs is a cute game with a fun gimmick, but its technical limitations and occasional lack of originality severely limit its potential.