Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector is a mobile game where you buy toys for virtual cats, who in turn leave you fish, which you then use to buy more toys. None of this is real, but for somebody like myself whose every friend seems to have a living, breathing cat or two, it’s a cute distraction. I should warn you, though: the path of the kitty collector is a winding one, and you should know what you’re getting into. It’s for that reason that I present these six stages of playing Neko Atsume.
It starts innocently enough. Sitting on the couch with a couple of your pals, you ask what they’re doing on their phones. Playing Neko Atsume, they respond. That cat game from Japan? Yessir. You should play it, they say. You buy toys with fish. It’s great. It couldn’t hurt to try, you suppose.
So you download the game and are soon greeted with a friendly tutorial to help get started. This doesn’t seem so bad! What’s this? A catbook where I can keep track of the kitty’s favourite toys? And a photo album? Adorable. Oh, and there’s your first visitor! Her name is Callie, and she loves you. And suddenly, you love her too.
As the week goes on, you find yourself checking your phone first thing in the morning, not for Facebook but for Neko Atsume. Did your cats leave you any gifts? Are Smokey and Sunny enjoying the scratching post you bought them? Oh my goodness, look at their cute little butts. THAT CAT IS WEARING A COWBOY HAT!
There is no more you; there is only Neko.
Things eventually get hairy. You check your yard, only to see that none of your cats are around. (You probably forgot to refill your Frisky Bitz.) Your eagerness to buy the cat condo complex left you high and dry, with no fish left to buy any food. (What good is a castle without its subjects?!) And that yard expansion remains out of reach — damn the demons of capitalism!
Frustration and anger go hand in hand, and when Tubbs, that gluttonous interloper, shows up for the tenth time this week and eats all your goddamn food, you’ll understand why. Fucking Tubbs! He comes in with that smug grin on his stupid face, eats everything, and leaves you a paltry twelve fish in return?! Do you know how expensive that sashimi was, Tubbs? Do you?! I’LL NEVER AFFORD THE YARD EXPANSION AT THIS RATE.
But after grueling perseverance and endurance, you finally make it. Your cats start bringing you mementos (a damp matchbox? Thank you Callie), and even Tubbs starts leaving a few more fish. Finally, after envying your friend’s big beautiful kitty yard for so long, you have enough gold fish to upgrade your own. Now you have more room for toys! More room for cats! And what’s this? You can now remodel for the low price of 140 gold fish?! I guess you had better start saving again.