John-Michael Gariepy

Kittens in a Blender: I’m mixed-up. Does this game gel?

Today I was at Myriad Games and a demo of Kittens in a Blender dropped on the table.

This kitten's name is Pancake. Pancake is not a food, he's a kitten. Please, please, do not think about whipping up some pancake batter.

Yes.  Yes.  I know.

It is likely that the Myriad Games Podcast will never do a review of Kittens in a Blender.  The reason why is because it is a game about putting kittens in blenders.  Cute, adorable kittens.  Kittens that you want to bring home and feed wet cat food to, and flip out when the wet cat food comes out the other end on your carpet, but definately do not want anywhere near various household appliances.  Specifically, the blender.

But the real reason why we may never make a podcast out of this game is because of
something you can’t witness while we talk about the game: the spectacular artwork.  The kittens look so lovable, that no one wants to see them anywhere near a blender.   It would be a terrible tragedy; The kind that keeps people a little panicky and invested in a game.  Had these cats been a bit more cartoony, or crass, this wouldn’t work.  Had the cats looked like rejects from the Ren & Stimpy show, the decision to obliterate them wouldn’t be so harrowing.  We’d want those cats to die horrible deaths, then feel bad about ourselves as human being for wanting such a horrible thing.  But no one wants to destroy the life of such cute kittens.  Not your kittens.  Other people’s kittens, sure…

Which is interesting, isn’t it?  There’s a scene in the TV series Community where Jeff Winger, making a point about human empathy, calls a pencil “Steve”, then snaps the pencil in half.  It happens fast.  You don’t have any time to build a personality for Steve, or a reason you should care about Steve, but the immediate reaction that people have when Steve is snapped is to wince.  A piece of wood and graphite became a proper noun and, in the transference, became important.

When threatening the lives of harmless pictures of kittens, the transference of importance continues in another weird direction.  You would think that people would try to protect all the kittens, and that each kitten killed was a catastrophe.  But, really, you only care about your kittens.  The other player’s cats be damned.  Tear ’em up by the handful.  But, if anything happened to poor, defenseless Chicken-Noodle, you wouldn’t know what you would do.

On second thought, this picture is in poor taste. Let's pretend I didn't put it here.

Other than the theme, the game is about as middle of the road as one can expect to achieve.  Cats are played into a box, on the counter which is dangerously close to a blender, or put directly into the blender.  Players play cards that move cats back and forth, and there’s a feeling, like with live kittens, that you can’t control these little rascals.  Occasionally, a dog barges in the room, and players trade their hands to the left and right.  And, eventually, someone plays a card that says BLEND!  Depending on the type of person you are, you either freak out a little, or laugh.  This continues until the last Blend card is played, which roughly coincides with when you’re  sick of playing the game.

No one’s going to be handing Closet Nerd Games the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming for Kittens in a Blender’s revolutionary game mechanics, but that’s okay.  It’s the sort of game that does what it’s supposed to do for $10.  It entertains for thirty minutes, then is put away.  Then it gets pulled out for another group of friends, who get a little too excited by it, then is put away.  Then you pull it out and show your wacky uncle, because you think he’ll think it’s funny, but your uncle gets all worried and asks when the last time you went to church was, and, when he isn’t looking, put it way.  Then, five years from now, you find this stupid game in your closet, pull it out, play it with some new friends, laugh, cry and swear, and put it away.  That seems worth the money to me.

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