CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars is the latest game by ZeptoLab, creators of Cut The Rope and King of Thieves. Rather than fitting into the puzzle and strategy genres like previous titles, though, C.A.T.S is an action game which rewards patience and creativity instead of quick critical thinking. You begin with the basic framework of a wooden vehicle, and using your feline Uncle’s garage can mix and match the different parts to make the build of your choice. With all manner of weapons including rocket launchers, chainsaws, and stingers, you can design your car to fit your style of play: use a small body with even smaller wheels and a rocket launcher can slowly dig away at your enemy’s health, but the longer stinger favors bigger vehicles which can knock the smaller ones over. Tactical planning is favored over speed of play.

Once you’ve assembled your vehicle with as much health and attack skill as possible it’s time to enter the arena through two different modes. Quick Fights are an easy way to extend your armory, as after every three wins in a row you’re awarded a loot crate containing new items with which to improve your car. Championship is how you’ll receive the best equipment, however. If you win a certain number of battles in each round a lucrative loot crate will be dropped, and you’ll also progress to the next round; reach a certain stage in the tournament and you’ll start being awarded metal, military, golden, and carbon parts, improving your vehicle’s capabilities way beyond when it was made of wood.

Upon completing a round in Championship and winning any battle in either mode you’ll be rewarded with green gems and gold coins respectively. The gems can be used to speed up the opening of a loot crate which otherwise takes two hours, and gold coins can be spent on upgrading whichever part of your vehicle you’d like improved. Both types of in-game currency need to be spent wisely; a wrong upgrade can still leave you with a weak vehicle, and a weak vehicle won’t win you battles and in-game currency – it’s a chicken and egg situation. This is, of course, unless you decide to purchase in-game currency with actual money, in which case you’ll be able to power up your car instantly.cats3

The brilliant way that C.A.T.S keeps you addicted right from the start is by offering you a multitude of different variables for your vehicle, many of which won’t work together. The bodies of each car come in different shapes and sizes: some long and wide, others tall and thin. Chainsaws will work well on thinner vehicles, whereas rockets are more effective connected to stocky bodies. Choose the wrong type of wheels for your car and it could be easily tipped over, toppled, or potentially won’t move at all. All of this ensures that players use as much trial and error as possible to find not only which parts work together, but which type of vehicle matches their own style.

It would be easy to see the feline characters and toy-style cars as a sign that C.A.T.S is simple to play, however it’s anything but. Finding the right combination and then winning a certain amount of battles is a challenge, and will often have you back to the drawing board deciding what went wrong.

In-game currency isn’t easily handed out, and only a great deal of practice in Quick Fight will provide you with enough gold coins and loot to improve your vehicle. Even when you have enough currency to upgrade certain features of your car, there’s no guarantee it will be good enough to defeat 12 out of 14 others in Championship.

Due to the timed rewards and overall planning that the game requires, C.A.T.S isn’t an app that you’ll play once and never again.

Due to the timed rewards and overall planning that the game requires, C.A.T.S isn’t an app that you’ll play once and never again. Even when you put your phone or tablet down, it will have you considering all the different possibilities; how you’ll beat this vehicle next time; what made that car so much more powerful than mine? It’s challenging and fun in equal measure, which is what makes it so enjoyable.

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