Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre games I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. But it’s all the better for it.
Led by drag queen with attitude Kitty Powers, you’ve just landed a new job as a matchmaker in a dating agency. The clients come to you, and it’s up to you to look through Kitty’s records and try to find the best match. Sounds fairly simple, right? You’ve also got to observe their dates, prompt conversation and ultimately land your client their ideal match.
Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker isn’t a game that you can take seriously – it certainly doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s incredibly tongue-in-cheek and is filled with more innuendos than your Nan after two brandies on a Saturday night. Catch a bonus coin that flies across the screen, and Kitty Powers will proclaim “ooh, you’re good with your hands, aren’t you?”. To choose conversation topics, you’ll pull “the love handle”. One of the restaurants is called “The King’s Helmet”. It’s Kitty’s irreverent humour that gives Matchmaker a personality all of its own; the humour reeks of classic British films of the 1970s – think Carry On or Monty Python.
Gameplay comes secondary to the game’s comedy which is shoehorned into every aspect of the game, from the characters’ over-zealous stereotypes and their awkward conversations to the ludicrous minigames that you’ll play on dates. A quick game of ‘higher or lower’ will come into play when your client suddenly gets a dicky tummy – the last thing you want is an outburst of pungent wind over a first date. Sure, it may be childish humour, but it’s all in good fun. Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is all about having fun.
The gameplay itself can feel akin to a mobile game, albeit a very well-produced one. Aside from matchmaking your clients, the overarching goal is to earn coins and raise your matchmaker level and status. The higher your status, the more “prestigious” your clientele will be – in other words, the more fussy and annoying they’ll be, but the greater the rewards are when you successfully match them. With coins, you can unlock new restaurants to send your dates to, a greater range of potential matches, and a salon that lets you prep your clients before you send them off on a date. You’ll likely also spend coins during each date, either to avoid failing a minigame (ergo avoid upsetting your date), to buy a gift for your date or even just to find out what a particular item is on the menu.
Earning coins can feel like slow progress, especially when there’s so many things to spend them on during each date. The only way to keep earning is to keep going on dates – and despite being the sole purpose of the game, it does unfortunately get repetitive. Early on in Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker, almost every match was successful, which was rewarding but ultimately a little boring. As I unlocked higher-paying clients, however, it soon got much harder to match them – and endless strings of failed dates ensued, which turned out to be much more frustrating than regularly successful ones. Unlocking new restaurants with coins also unlocks new minigames – with each new restaurant adding one to the random roster – which can keep the game feeling fresh, but ultimately, it’s a lot of work to unlock these. After about six hours with the game, I’ve only managed to unlock three new restaurants (out of a possible 12). Granted, I’ve also unlocked a salon hair treatment, and a couple of extra pages of clients, but it feels like slow progress.
The trouble is that Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is most fun in small bursts, but playing in small bursts isn’t enough to unlock everything that’s needed to make the game more rewarding. Those unlocks should come cheaper and faster, and coins should be easier to obtain.
The joy of the game, then, comes from Kitty Powers herself. Her hilarious and sparkling personality is enough to keep you engaged at least for a few hours, and even though her double entendres do soon begin to repeat themselves, I still found myself chuckling after the third or fourth time I heard them. Knowing that Kitty Powers is the real drag persona of Rich Franke, the creative director of Magic Potion, the development team behind Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker, made me like the game even more. It’s rare something so personal is embedded into a game, let alone an entire persona. Its innate inclusion of everyone – Kitty Powers’ dating agency caters for all sexualities, did you know – along with its built-in geek humour (“We would have done 3D graphics but they said I’d use up too many polygons!”) can only be a good thing too. What it lacks in gameplay and longevity, Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker more than makes up for in personality, and that alone makes this a title worth keeping on your radar.