Despite being an outrageous Kickstarter success, the original Exploding Kittens probably won't be familiar to everyone.
The card game — essentially Russian roulette with detonating cats — was funded in all of eight minutes and subsequently became the most-backed campaign ever. Fortunately, it was brilliant.
The only tiny snag was that the accompanying app wasn’t. But now it is, and it’s now available on Android as well as iOS. So everyone’s happy! (Apart from the exploding kittens.)
Check it out meow
In app land, Exploding Kittens doesn’t waste time. Fire up the app, pick an avatar, give yourself a name, and choose to ‘Play With Friends’ or ‘Play With Strangers’. The first of those options seems weird to us. If you’re in a room with actual live humans and fancy a game of Exploding Kittens, it seems an odd choice to sit staring at smartphones rather than play the real thing. But if you’re all alone, ‘Play With Strangers’ lets you take on the world. Or at least the bit of the world that owns a copy of Exploding Kittens for Android or iOS and fancies a game.
The basics of the original card game remain intact. Players take it in turn to draw a card from the pile. If they get an exploding kitten, a ‘defuse’ card must be drawn or you explode and are out of the game. All other cards offer varying types of strategic options, such as peeking at the top three cards, slapping an opponent to force a turn, stealing a card, or a last-resort deck shuffle.
Much of the charm, as with the original, is down to the The Oatmeal’s deranged artistic sensibilities. Defuse cards feature banjo-playing kitties and laser pointers. Turns are skipped by riding a ‘bunnyraptor’. And stealing a card happens by way of a rainbow-belching cat that should clearly cut down on the Haribo.
The app version isn’t identical to the original. The deck is cut down, for example. But before you stomp off in a huff to do some exploding of your own, Exploding Kittens on Android and iOS makes up for a few missing cards in a big way. The game is animated, noisy, and full of energy. Opponents scream as they explode, and a giant cat paw slaps the screen when someone’s about to nick one of your cards. There’s a handy ‘chance of kitten’ meter, helping you decide whether to take a risk in drawing from the pile without peeking first. And there’s a chat system that’s entirely stupid, given that it comprises precisely 17 canned audio recordings we imagine The Oatmeal found amusing at the time.
There are some niggles, most notably the app occasionally locking up during a game. Also, Exploding Kittens itself has a kind of randomness that can be off-putting to people who want a more in-depth strategic experience. Still, there is some strategy to be found in Exploding Kittens once you work out how to best take advantage of the special cards. And as a breezy, irreverent, quickfire card game you can play at any time, it’s an awful lot of fun — right up until someone triple-slaps you and you find yourself facing down an exploding feline without the aid of a catnip sandwich.