To quote those annoying movie rental adverts: Do you love Movies? Are you fond of cats? Do you have an iPhone? Then download Movie Cat - possibly the only cat-based movie trivia quiz you will ever need.
Movie Cat doesn't mess around when it comes to naming. It's a film trivia quiz where the question masters are (for some unexplained reason) cats. It's a slightly odd combination, but somehow it all works out.
Each game consists of five rounds. In order to progress, you have to answer five questions correctly (so each game is a fixed 25 questions long). Each time you answer a question correctly, you get a score based on how quickly the answer - the faster your answer, the higher your score. You start the game with nine lives (it's a cat based game, after all). Answering a question incorrectly costs you a life (and valuable bonus points at the end of each round) and if you run out of lives, the quiz is over.
The key thing to any movie quiz is the quality of its questions, and Movie Cat scores very highly in this regard. There are three difficulty levels: Easy, Medium and Hard (the default is medium) and there is a noticeable difference in the difficulty of the questions at each level. As you might expect, Hard is for the seriously geeky film fan whose head is filled with trivia, whilst Easy is for those with just a surface knowledge of some more famous films.
This means that whatever your knowledge of films and cinema, you can tailor the game to suit you, without becoming frustrated. If you struggle with a particular level, you can always downgrade to the next level; similarly, when you feel in need of an extra challenge, you can choose one of the harder options. It also gives the game greater longevity, since you can play through each of the levels and then go back and try and beat your best scores.
Questions are split into different categories (such action and suspense, chick flicks). These are randomly assigned at the start of each round. If you don't like a particular category, you can ask for a shuffle to have another selection generated, although personally I think this is cheating!
There's a real variety to the types of questions Movie Cat asks. Some re straightforward multiple choice ones that simply need you to identify the correct answer; others give you some dialogue from a film which you have to identify; some give you cats dressed up in various costumes and you have to identify the film in which those costumes featured or to match a list of directors with the films they directed. This gives the game a real element of variety. It's not just a question of reading a question then selecting the correct answer from a list. The different ways of presenting the questions both increases the challenge and stops each game from becoming too similar.
Crucially, Movie Cat has a massive database of questions. I have played this game for hours and hours and only rarely have I had a question repeated. This massively increases the long-term challenge as you can play game after game without fear of seeing the same old questions crop up time and time again.
The question and answer game mechanism becomes weirdly compulsive. You become determined to answer as quickly as accurately as possible in order to maximise your score. Each time you answer incorrectly, you kick yourself, furious at the points lost. Run out of lives and you instantly want to have another go to see if you can better your high score. You can even post your scores to Facebook. Twitter or the online leaderboard to show off your movie knowledge to friends. Movie Cat might sound a little dull when you try and describe it, but the instant you play it, the competitive instinct kicks in, and you can find yourself losing hours of your time playing it! The first time I played it, I fired it up intending to make sure it worked. Next time I looked up, well over an hour had passed me by. It just has that addictive quality.
It has to be said that presentation is slightly surreal. There's just something slightly odd about being asked questions by cartoon cats! These have a slightly naïve quality to them, but the simplicity of the drawings matches the simplicity of the game. They are brightly drawn and do add a colourful visual element to a game that might otherwise be quite dull. The presence of cats acting out scenes or wearing costumes from famous movies certainly gives it a quirky look all its own.
For the most part, the presentation works well, although it can sometimes cause problems with the more visual questions. On some questions, for example, you get a still image of a cat doing something and are asked to identify the film. This can be tricky as the slightly crude artwork means it's not always obvious exactly what the cat is meant to be doing, reducing such questions to mere guesswork.
It's also a shame that (presumably for copyright reasons), you don't get any actual film clips or sound bites, as these would have given the quiz some much needed flair. I guess the inclusion of clips would have been horrendously expensive, and resulted in a much higher asking price for the game, so that's fair enough. A little more animation would have been nice too (the images of the cartoon cats are all static), just to give a greater sense of action to proceedings. However given the basic nature of the graphics, I suspect this might be beyond the capabilities of the developer!
One disappointing aspect is that (as far as I can tell), once you have completed all five rounds, the game stops. There are no other game modes available (no option, for example, to keep going until you run out of lives, or to see how many questions you can answer correctly within a set time limit). This does limit the long term appeal of the game and I have to admit that although I play the game incessantly when I load it up, the gaps between me using this app are starting to get longer and longer.
So, to go back to that opening: if you like movies and cats and have an iPhone, this is one app that's worth spending £1.19 of your hard-earned cash on. The impressive number of questions stored in the database, the variety in the type of questions asked and the quirky look and feel make it well worth downloading.
© Copyright SWSt 2011