Cat Pipes is a simple puzzle title for the Nintendo Switch. It involves rotating tiles to line up the pipes within so that cats can move freely through them to get home. Or something like that. I’m a little sketchy on the details, which is an apt description of this game.

I was actually excited by the premise. Well, excited is a strong word, but I love cats and I love puzzle games. Hey, I even love pipes to a certain extent; I grew up playing Mario, after all. In short, this sounded like a cozy title to entertain me between bouts of Star Wars: Hunters. 

Cat Pipes - Nintendo Switch - screen 1

Unfortunately, the problems begin at the title screen. You’re presented with two options: play or tutorial. I naturally gave the tutorial a go on my first runthrough, yet when I pressed the A button, nothing happened. To be exact, the title screen remained in place, albeit with a new border and a weird + icon in the top left. Pressing various buttons made sounds turn off and on, indicating I was in an options area rather than a tutorial. Either way, something is clearly broken. I’m sure it’s easily fixed via an update, but at the time of writing, no such update exists.

So, I jumped into the game itself. Cat Pipes features 45 levels to play through. Each puzzle presents a series of tiles containing lines that represent pipes. These tiles need to be rotated to match the surrounding lines so they connect. While it’s not hard to play—you simply move your cursor onto each tile and hit the A button to rotate it—the process isn’t entirely clear. For example, not all pipes need to be connected, apparently. That’s fine if there are multiple solutions, but because there’s no tutorial, I’m just not sure.

Cat Pipes - Nintendo Switch - screen 2

Once you get the hang of things, the puzzles are actually fun. There’s a feeling of satisfaction in aligning everything and moving on to the next one. The puzzles vary in size and difficulty, though I breezed through almost half of them very quickly. There’s just nothing else to them though. A difficulty rating could help differentiate between levels. Other options would make things more accessible, like touchscreen controls. A leaderboard (even a local one) or a timer could incentivize replay. 

I’m also underwhelmed by the graphics. I’m not expecting anything grandiose for $4.99, but I expect the pipes to look like pipes. And the cats to look like cats. Instead, pipes are white lines that turn red when connected, while the cats are black, blob-like shadows in a circle. There’s very little that resembles the nomenclature of the game’s title. On the plus side, the static background is nice. It’s a sitting room of some sort with a color overlay. It still has nothing to do with cats or pipes, though.

Overall, Cat Pipes has a cute premise that isn’t executed well. I could forgive the lackluster graphics if there wasn’t a broken tutorial. While the puzzles are fun, there’s nothing beneath the surface, making this one hard to recommend to anyone but the most avid of puzzle fans.