Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Neko Atsume’ app offers fun, feline diversion

Neko Atsume Facebook Page
(Neko Atsume Facebook Page)

Forty nine cats, one mission: collect them all. That is the premise behind the widely popular app “Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector.” In just a few short months the app has gained considerable traction. “Neko Atsume” was originally released worldwide on Oct. 20, 2014 in Japanese; the English version was released just over a year later, on Oct. 30, 2015.

The app feels disappointing after initial download, greeting users with a small barren backyard and not a single cat. “Neko Atsume” appears underwhelming and boring – that is, until you start getting “goodies” for the cats. Once you buy toys and food for cats, they start appearing. And once the first feline appears, the obsession begins.

After a cat leaves they will bring gifts as thanks for the food and toys, such as fish or the desired gold fish, which are needed to buy items and more appetizing food. There are over 100 items to buy for these cats and many offer their own animation for a cat – it’s tempting to buy every single item just to see what new ways a cat will interact with it.

Gold fish lead to bigger purchases that are more appealing to users, most notably the yard expansion that brings even more cats to the yard.

Each cat has its own unique design and personality. Some cats appear more often than others. Some are “rare cats” that wear clothing. These cats require specific items to bring them to the yard. Billy the Kitten requires a cowboy hat, Mr. Meowgi requires a Sakura Pillow. Discovering your first clothed cat is exciting. This discovery factor is the most alluring quality of “Neko Atsume” – the longer you play, the more secrets you uncover and the more new cat friends appear.

The app’s design is very simple but that makes it work. There is enough variance that makes the app interesting but still approachable and easy to use.

“Neko Atsume” is a waiting game. It requires neither thought nor effort, but patience. The player uses it to look at cats, admire them and eventually collect them all.

“Tubbs” has become the most infamous cat on the app. Tubbs is a cat that appears after a person buys a higher-end type of food for their cats. When Tubbs appears he eats all of that remaining food, forcing the user to refill the bowl, but in return Tubbs often has a larger payout than the other felines. Tubbs has started an opinion war on social media. Some view him as adorable, the trademark of the app in famed memes across the Internet. Others view him as a monster that isn’t paying his worth.

However, the biggest fault of the app is its lifespan. The application could be finished in as little as two weeks. There is nothing left but repetition once all the cats are collected. It’s up to the users to decide if they want to keep this app alive.

“Neko Atsume” is simple, free and doesn’t pressure the user into spending any money, unlike the majority of the apps produced today. It has one mission – collect every cat – but never makes the user feel rushed. Anyone can make the app what they want to: a competitive game between friends or a nice peaceful place to escape.

Troy Kowalchuk can be reached at [email protected].

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