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What the Hell Happened? 'Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector'

Neko Atsume
Courtesy of Jason Pettis/Flickr

Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector


“Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector” is exactly what its name would suggest—an app that lets its players collect cats. Developed by Hit-Point Co., Ltd., “Neko Atsume” has accumulated over 10 million downloads, making it one of the quirkiest and cutest phenomenons since “Hello Kitty Cafe.”

Once players open the app, sweet, bubbly music starts to play, and an illustrated scene of a yard appears, ready to be filled with cats. But in order for cats to come, food and toys must be purchased from the shop in order to entice them. Food ranges from free “Thrifty Bits” to the much more expensive sashimi.

Like “Farmville” and other similar games, “Neko Atsume” has two currencies—silver fish and gold fish. Silver fish are much easier to obtain, but the rarer gold fish can be used to purchase much more valuable items, like the coveted yard expansion (more room means more cats) or a cardboard house.

Over 40 cats can be collected using these toys, some of which are deemed rarer than others. For example, Guy Furry comes for only the glass vase and the heating stove. Senor Don Gato is partial to the Mister Mouse toy. Conductor Whiskers has been spotted blowing his whistle on the Cardboard Choo Choo Train. However, all cats, rare or common, will bring players gifts of gold and silver fish as a thank you for letting them eat food and play with toys.

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The concept sounds almost too simple to have gained such widespread popularity, but perhaps it’s the simplicity of the app that makes it so great. Unlike “Farmville,” players won’t have to worry about opening “Neko Atsume” at a certain time to make sure no crops have rotted away. Nothing dies in the world of “Neko Atsume,” making this app easy to pick up and drop whenever—no strings attached.

Or maybe it’s the game’s overall “cute” aesthetic. Everything seems to be hand drawn, with neat lines and warm colors. The cats get stuck in cake boxes, hide in tunnels, and bury their faces in sheep cushions. They bring mementos like small mittens or damp matchboxes, and players can take pictures of them and add them to the ever-growing Catbook photo album. It’s enough to make anyone say “aww,” or at least feel a little fuzzy inside as they take screenshots of their furry virtual friends.

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