Rhythm games and kitties are two of my biggest loves in life. So it should come as no surprise that when Tappy Cat - Musical Kitty Arcade [Free] released recently I hurriedly downloaded it to see how these two things would mesh together. What I didn’t expect was one of the best rhythm games that I’ve played in a long while. With an incredibly tough (but very rewarding) difficulty curve, and an amazing array of cats to unlock, Tappy Cat should be on the radar for any rhythm fan.

Being a rhythm game, Tappy Cat’s general feel should be instantly familiar to most folks. There are 46 songs to play, most being interpretations of classical songs (with a few interesting newer songs thrown into the mix). Songs are unlocked via stages, meaning that players start out with one song and will unlock subsequent ones by successfully completing the previous one. A three star system provides the primary method of feedback with more stars awarded based on how well you play the song. It’s a tried-and-true system for a rhythm game and it is executed impeccably without any error.

The stars of Tappy Cat are the amazingly adorable visuals as well as an impressive cast of unlockable kitties that each come with their own backdrop for the game. Players start with a tabby cat, but as they play (and complete) more songs, other cats will randomly stop by for a feeding. Cats can be unlocked by feeding them fish, which is earned by playing songs and earning perfect streaks. A welcomed feature of Tappy Cat is the fact that you can keep all the fish you earn in a round even if you don’t successfully pass the song which offers a nice feeling of advancement even in the face of failure.

Maybe it’s because I’m a cat person, but I’m absolutely in love with all the different cats you can unlock. There are basics such as the tabby, the Ragdoll or a Midnight but Tappy Cat also has a whole other set of cats that are based on well-known figures. For example, “Zuck” unlocks a cat in a casual shirt and jeans with “The Social Catwork” signs in the background. Find “Great Leader” and you’ll be surrounded by missile billboards and a large amount of cats bowing down to you. Even though each cat is merely a visual skin and doesn’t impact gameplay, there are so many and each has such a personality that I find myself playing simply to unlock more.

Even the method of unlocking cats is an interesting experience (and is probably the most “freemium” aspect of the game). New cats will randomly show up when you complete a song. If you like it, you can attempt to feed it fish, which raises the percentage that it’ll join you. If it doesn’t work, you can try to feed it more fish to increase the likelihood even more. If you fail three times, the cat gets tired of you and walks off. There are always two quantities of fish you can choose from, so the game become a simple game of chance where you’re betting against using all your fish in the hope of recruiting someone (or hoping you can still recruit them with a small amount). While fish is earned generously during gameplay, you can also purchase it via IAP in case the perfect cat comes along and you don’t have enough in your inventory.

Make no mistake, despite its cuddly exterior, Tappy Cat is a rhythm game for hardcore rhythm players. Gameplay consists of four lanes with three types of moves (single taps, double taps and tap-and-holds). While the lane placement takes some getting used to, it actually makes perfect sense considering the widescreen format of the game and where your thumbs naturally rest while holding your device. Taps are also judged in only three different ways (Perfect, Okay, and Miss). Based on this description, Tappy Cat has fairly standard, slightly simplistic mechanics.

Here’s where Tappy Cat gets hardcore: if you miss one tap, it’s game over. That’s right, one missed tap, even on the hardest of songs, and you’re done. Players have the option of spending some fish to continue from where you failed, but honestly I wouldn’t recommend it except for the rarest of occasions. Tappy Cat also has a life system, where players have a set number of lives and each failure exhausts one. Run out of lives and you need to earn more by purchasing them via IAP or watching some ads (there are no timers available).

While I can imagine some players will be frustrated with the stringent difficulty of Tappy Cat, I personally love it. Each song is well designed when compared to the rhythm of the music, meaning that I encountered very little artificial difficulty due to a tap being out of rhythm. In addition, the added difficulty of not missing means that every song has you on an amazing edge as you try to complete it. Every completion is a true accomplishment, and earning a three-star rating on a song becomes a legitimate accolade. There’s a very special feeling that some rhythm games impart where you’re playing a hard song, hitting all the notes and are basically on a musical high. I encountered that feeling consistently in Tappy Cat, which really means something as a rhythm game fan.

There are two complaints worthy of mention when it comes to Tappy Cat. First, due in part to the lane placement and the small window of perfection, it’s pretty difficulty for first time players to consistently build up a perfect streak for earning fish. While it is an initial concern, I found myself slowly adjusting to the timing window to the point where I could get 90-95% perfects with ease. The second complain is regarding the difficulty and lives. Since hearts don’t replenish and most players will likely be failing songs over and over, one can argue that the game might be too heavy handed in the freemium elements. However, the fact that you can always earn more hearts for free via ads makes that complaint mostly moot. Hell, you can pay two bucks in IAP and unlock unlimited lives, which basically turns this game into a premium experience. You can even unlock fish with ad views, so you don’t even need to purchase those if you don’t want to.

Simply put, Tappy Cat is an amazing game with a large musical catalog, an adorable cast of kittens that you will want to unlock, a very welcomed difficulty for rhythm fans and an incredibly fair freemium system. Not only do I think Tappy Cat is worth checking out, I’d highly recommend that fans just purchase the unlimited lives unlock to turn it into a premium title. I’m constantly on the lookout for an amazing rhythm title on iOS, and I never imagined that it would turn up in this cat-tastic title.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Stronsay

    Good review. I try most rhythm games and have to say the cute kitty graphics were slightly disconcerting, so I was pleasantly surprised how good this is. Wasn't expecting it to be so hardcore either. I would also add that it seems more like playing a musical instrument than any other game of this type that I've seen. The notes only sound when they are tapped, and it's great when I eventually get the timing right and start to recognise the tune.

  • kowwok

    Great review! I play piano, and have always been a fan of rhythm games in general. This definitely does classical songs justice.

    My one gripe with the game in the ~20 minutes I've played is the ad system. I don't mind ads after I lose a level, but this seems to be more of a timed thing. Sometimes when I start a level, an ad will pop up within seconds. Once the ad is over, it goes back to the level but I've lost. If I could make a suggestion to the devs, maybe consider pausing levels while ads play? I will likely purchase the ad removal and the unlimited lives because I love the rest of the game, but this hindered my testing experience quite a bit.

    Great game guys! Definitely earned the 5 star review.

    • Owen

      Owen from Tappy Cat here, just wanted to say that is definitely not intended and a bug. We're on it now, thanks for reporting 🙂

      • kowwok

        Of course! Thank you for caring about it 🙂 your game is quite addicting.

      • ducksFANjason

        Any chance this is coming to Android?

  • Parkingtigers

    Downloaded, bought infinite lives and ad remover. Fun little game. Was a little hand cramping on a 5C, but loving it on iPad Pro with a thumb + forefinger combo technique.

    Would like some kind of harder mode for the earlier easy songs. I unlocked all the way up to the twelfth song in one session, so plenty more ahead of me, but those early songs feel like they move in slow motion now, and I'd like a reason to return to them other than to maybe slightly increment my score.

    Absolutely worth the download, this game is very much my jam.

    • Owen

      Yes, we're working on this very thing 🙂 Look forward to an update sometime in the next week. Also always welcome any suggestions for songs, we'll try to add 1 weekly or so.

  • Amber Katze

    Great game! Absolutely loving it and already paid to get rid of ads...also for infinite lives. I am trying not too spend too much on fish but when those new cats appear...I want them all!!! Although one was greedy and ate 320 fish and still buggered off!! Typical cat 😉

    The game play is easy to understand and I was pleasantly surprised that you don't get a whole long tutorial with kid gloves. Also the game doesn't really ease you into things...just a challenging pace from the first song.

    There are a lot of good things I could say about this game but I really came here to give some feedback because I couldn't find any support/email anywhere.

    Since the update this week I keep getting a crash to the home screen as soon as I select a new cat. Pretty annoying. This didn't happen before the update so I guess something changed there...luckily the game has hardly any loading time so it isn't too much of a hassle to restart the game.

    Not sure if this is a bug or not but I keep getting cats looking for a home that I already have in my collection. I can't check this so do I have to remember every cat I have? I wasted quite a few fish on cats that ran off again and then I realised I already had them in my collection.

    One thing I haven't really figured out is how many fish I earn for what and when. I know I earn them but I don't see any correlation...do I win 10 for every completed song with 1 star? I got 667 points and two stars but how many fish did that earn me? Maybe I am missing something but I haven't figured it out yet.

    Something I would like to see changed is that when you complete a level and click continue that the next song gets introduced...at least show the name...maybe a start button? As it is now you just get thrown into the next song with no real warning.

    All in all a great game that I am really enjoying. It got passed around the office when I installed it and I got some iOS envy from all those android people. Not sure if my cats like it though 🙂

    • Owen

      Thanks so much for the feedback! All very good points. (support@inspirlabs.com should have been in the app description to contact us)

      1) Crash noted. Something went wrong with the last update. Will be fixed this weekend.
      2) Repeat cats. We'll think about putting a "new" label on ones you don't have or along the lines.
      3) Fish earned - We tried to explain in the short tutorial that you'd get a fish per every "perfect" streak. Ie. Each time the bar on top fills up, you get fish. We're still tweaking the amounts to be fair but challenging.
      4) Song name - we have an abbreviated title on the main "song screen", but thought players would prefer to hop along the levels with minimal "things". But will consider.

      Appreciate the sharing/flaunting 🙂 We really need quite more players to keep this going.

      • Amber Katze

        Thanks for replying!

        I am quite addicted already so the crash is sometimes a nice way to stop me playing for a while 😉

        However I have to say, as I progress, I am not a fan of the balancing. I never have enough fish. Despite clearing a level and getting two stars I don't feel like I am getting rewarded. I guess now that the perfect streak makes sense but when those sunglasses appear it usually distracts me 😉

        Anyway...I don't feel like I have enough fish to get a cat to join me (I know some are harder and that makes it challenging) but while I appreciate (work as a game tester) that you want people to spend money on buying fish...I already paid to get rid of the ads and infinite lives...which is a nice price already for a F2P.

        I am slowly getting frustrated at the cats coming along that I think I already have...hope I already have...(maybe you can level up the cats too....?) and also the ones I know I have but can't afford. I watch the ads to earn fish but there are only so many times you can see the ad for Bubble Witch Saga 3...it seems to be the only one. Not sure which ad provider you are using but they need to mix it up a bit 😉

        Although as I said...I am addicted and will keep playing. I look forward to any changes made and can't wait to see what songs get added next. Keep up the good work!

Tappy Cat - Musical Kitty Arcade Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4.5