Say whatever you want about Catapult King, whether you like what it does or you don’t, at least it actually tries to put a new spin on Angry Birds-style clones. That doesn’t mean it’s entirely successful in its attempt, but it’s not hard to appreciate that it’s much more than just a ‘knock stuff into buildings’ game with a fresh coat of paint.
Catapult King attempts to reinvent this well-worn wheel by putting the action in 3-D. Rather than toss some birds across a 2-D plane, players assume the role of someone launching cannonballs at castles. If nothing else, there’s a lot more physics-based mental calculating that must go on as players consider the proper trajectory to knock down the enemy castle.
Special powers, like a cannonball that splits into three pieces, or another that slams the ground with thunderous power, aren’t things the game slowly doles out like the special fowl in Angry Birds, either. Instead, players have to trade special in-game points to use the differently-abled cannonballs. There’s an actual risk-reward involved in trying to conquer a level with a special cannonball knowing you might need the points on a tougher level later on.
But for all the reinvention Catapult King does that makes it stand out so well, there’s something decidedly lacking. It is a fairly ugly game. Not hideous, but compared to the sleek, cartoony Angry Birds Space, Catapult King looks blocky and unwieldy, like a first generation PlayStation game. The sense of absurdity is gone, too, thanks to the game world being turned into a fight between knights in castles and not argumentative animals. It’s surprising to see how much the gaming experience deteriorates on account of a lack of whimsy and a homely visual appearance.
Assuming you’re not as shallow as me, Catapult King is still a fun game. Even if it mostly makes you wonder what Angry Birds in 3-D would be like, there are many elements to the game that seem so smart and obvious once you see them in motion that it’s hard not to admire. If we’re going to endure more clones of an iconic franchise, I’m perfectly all right with the majority of them winding up as interesting experiments like Catapult King.