If you’re like many people (myself included), games on your phone are a fun release in your downtime, and are great time-passers when you’re waiting (and they’re much better than the old magazines in doctor’s office waiting rooms!). Of course some games are better than others. For me, free games that are relatively simple and are ad-free are ideal. One of the best games I have found, that is all of these things (as well as being super adorable) is Neko Atsume (or, “Cat Collection”).
What Neko Atsume is and How to Play it.
The Neko Atsume game was released by Hit-Point in late 2014 and is available for download on both iOS and Android. In the game, you set out toys and treats to entice kitties to come to your yard. Different kitties are attracted to different toys and foods, so it is fun to check back and see who is visiting or who has come by. (One of my favorites is a rare cat, Mr. Meowgi, who brings his katana sword to the scratching log.) If you spot cats in your yard, you can take snapshots of them for your in-game album, or you can save the photos to your phone and share them with friends!
After kitties visit, they leave you gifts of fish (which you can then use to buy more goodies). To me, this is a huge benefit of Neko Atsume, because it’s not hard to acquire things for the game, kitties will give it to you – just feed and pamper them (unlike many other “free” games where you’re pretty much forced to buy stuff to get anything done). After multiple visits, kitties also leave you special mementos like an osprey feather and even a used toothbrush (which is still better than the dead mementos real kitties would bring to your doorstep!) The goal is to get all cats to visit (currently, there are 56 cats to collect).
Addictive but not Life-Consuming.
If the number of Facebook invitations I get to play Candy Crush Saga are any indication, some games, even simple phone apps, suck people in. While Neko Atsume is addicting (after all there is a Neko Atsume Community on Reddit and a Neko Atsume Wiki page), you actually have to wait for kitties to come by (so instead of staring at an empty yard you might as well go do something else for a while). And, when you check your yard for new feline visitors, you can do it pretty quickly (if desired of course).
Neko Atsume Cats are Just Like Real Cats.
Maybe part of the reason Neko Atsume is so popular (in addition to being fun and free) is that just like real cats, the kitties of Neko Atsume do as they please and get themselves into adorably cute situations. And much like YouTube cat videos, we can’t stop watching.
To read about more Japanese cats and cat-related trends, check out Japan’s Fascination with Cats.