When I first heard about Doodle Cat, I had just become the owner of a cat. I enjoy her antics so much that it was tempting to see what a virtual cat was capable of.
Doodle Cat is a very simple game. On a background that looks rather like grid paper sits a pencil-sketched cat. If you do nothing, the cat amuses itself - sleeping, catching flies. But if you touch the cat, it will either mew or purr. These appear as little word-clouds floating above its head.
And from mews and purrs, everything else grows. Touch a purr and drag it onto a mew, and you get a ball of wool. Drag a purr onto the cat, and you create a cat brush.
With a ball of wool, you can try several things. Drag and drop the ball of wool onto the cat, or vice versa and the cat tangles itself up in yarn. Rather adorably, in fact. Create two balls of wool, and drag one onto the second, and you create a sheep.
Some of the objects interact with the cat - try brushing the cat with a cat brush, for example. Other objects interact only with each other. The app helpfully lets you know whether objects will combine - they wobble negatively if they don't go together.
Helpfully, touching an item duplicates it, making it easy to test some combinations. Additionally, if you touch the top right corner, which lists your current number of objects, you can see the full set of your discoveries. Tick a box, click add and it will appear on screen for you to use.
All up, the basic app ($1.29) allows you to create and discover the recipes to some 60 items. These include cushions, pot plants, sun and clouds, a scratching post, aquarium and flying sheep-bird (muttonbird?).
If you get stuck, there are five hints offered - these differ depending on what you've already solved, so they'll never tell you how to make something you've already figured out for yourself. You can get extra hints, in packs of five, for $1.29 each.
If you want more items to play with and create, such as a vacuum cleaner, washing machine, cookies and radiator, another $1.29 will let you reach 100 items in total.
It took me around four hours to uncover all the secrets of the first 60 items. The interactions between the cat and some of the items are very cute indeed. Similarly, the pleasure of discovering a new combination of items is aided by the simple sketch styling and the way they sort of *pop* into existence. I forgot what combinations worked readily enough that I had to rediscover some over and over, too, which was nice.
However, there is a limit to the amusement you can get out of this game. For $1.29, it's a fun way to amuse yourself for a few hours, and I think it would keep a child amused, too.