2021 is upon us, and not surprisingly, there are many highly anticipated games on the horizon. While I was looking through some of the games with release dates set for this year, I noticed an unexpected trend rising in the industry. I can’t speak as to why, but it seems that 2021 might be a good year for cat lovers. Many of these titles were developed by indie teams, but some big names are on the list too. Even Nintendo can’t resist being swept up in whatever force has pulled us toward our feline friends this year. These 4 cat games might not be game of the year material, but they do look promising.
1. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury – February 12th:
Those who are looking for some family-friendly AAA action won’t have to wait long to wet their whiskers. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury hits the Switch on February 12th of this year. This game is technically a re-release of a game that first hit the WiiU in 2013. The original Mario 3D World introduced the catsuit power-up, which gives Mario and pals special climbing abilities. In the preceding years, Nintendo has given a big push to the plumbers’ cutesy new look. It even inspired a special edition amiibo, which will work with the game.
In order to justify a re-release, an extra campaign has been added in the form of Bowser’s Fury. By the looks of the trailer, Bowser has caught a second wind after his defeat in the initial game. Bowser Jr. will even accompany Mario to help defeat his father’s overwhelming new form. Fury Bowser towers several hundred feet above Mario, likely outmatching even the strongest of Mario’s abilities. So if you thought its normal pussycat power-up would do the job, you’d be mistaken. To even the odds, Mario can take on a new giga-cat form, taking his pawsome potential further than ever before. The WiiU version of the game had us purring in approval already, but Bowser’s Fury adds even more fuel to Nintendo’s burning love for Cat Mario.
2. The Good Life – Summer 2021:
The Good Life, developed by White Owls Inc., follows the story of a photographer named Naomi, as she investigates “the happiest town on earth”. You can take control of her investigation this summer on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Just why is the town of Rainy Woods so happy? That’s for you and Naomi to find out. Based on the information that’s been revealed, it may have something to do with the nightly transformations that take place there. Apparently, the residents of Rainy Woods, including Naomi, transform into cats and dogs at night. Using both her cat and human forms, it’s up to Naomi to uncover the town’s secrets.
3. Stray – Date TBA 2021:
If you don’t like the fantasy setting of The Good Life but still want to play as a cat, you might want to look into Stray by BlueTwelve Studio. There’s no set release date yet, but BlueTwelve is aiming for 2021. It will release on the PlayStation 4 and 5, as well as on PC. Stray traded in the idyllic settings of the last two entries for a grittier cyberpunk city. The game puts you into the paws of, you guessed it, a stray cat. After being separated from a family, the titular stray finds itself in an abandoned city populated only by long-forgotten robots. By exploring the city with the stealth of a prowling lioness, can you find your way home? The game promises to be a great exploration experience that delves deep into the mechanics of controlling a cat.
4. Mineko’s Night Market – Date TBA 2021:
Stepping back into human shoes, Mineko’s Night Market by Meowza Games brings us a bizarre-looking life sim set to release sometime this year. You’ll be able to find it on PC, Mac, and the Nintendo Switch. The game’s website describes it as “a game about crafting crafts, eating eats, and catting cats”. It seems there’s a story thread in Mineko’s Night Market about a mythical creature called Abe. Along with the crafting, eating, and exploring, the player will investigate Abe’s existence. In the trailer, Abe appears as a human-sized kitten who wears a mask and looks like he gives great hugs. What I can’t stress enough is that he’s absolutely adorable. Cute mythical furballs not enough for you? The trailer also shows the little troublemakers being grown on a farm and ridden in a race. Suffice it to say; the game has plenty of humor and a strong cat theme. Personally, life sims rarely catch my attention, but this one has it. Of all the games on this list, this one probably most exemplifies the idea of a ‘cat game.’
Other Cat Games:
Just in case these aren’t what you’re looking for, I thought I’d spotlight a few other great games that cats play a role in. These are games that don’t quite fit on the list, but they’ll do in a pinch if you’re looking for more meows. I’d be remiss not to mention Night in the Woods, in which you play as a cat named Mae. It came out in 2017, so if you need your fix right now, it may be a good option. Animal Crossing features plenty of feline villagers, so if you want to live around cats without having to clean their litter, I’d suggest New Horizons, which was released in 2020.
There are a few other 2021 games on the horizon for those who like kitties in a smaller dose. They didn’t make the above list because the cats won’t play a central role, but they’re sure to be involved. Monster Hunter Rise is sure to feature the series’ flagship helpers, the palicos, to aid you in your journey. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise. A few fan-favorite Pokémon are based on cats, so keep an eye out for them in upcoming releases. Both of these series have excellent track records, so it may be worth looking into them as well.
So, whether you want to play using your paws, hands, or a little bit of each, 2021’s got you covered. From platformer to mystery, to exploration, cat lovers have some great options in gaming this year. The year is still young, so it’s yet to be seen if these 4 games may be the start of a larger trend. Does the industry need more cat games? I don’t know, but if they’re as good as these 4 are promising to be, I’ll be looking forward to them.