How to play Neko Atsume
Neko Atsume (which translates, quite literally as 'collecting cats)' tasks you with using toys and food to attract cats to your home. There are 53 to lure and add to your collection so it's all about learning the best combination of items to nab those super rare felines.
Mobile games are big business over in Japan, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that the humble smartphone is as big a gaming platform as any console or handheld. You might, however, be a little shocked to learn one of the biggest mobile hits to reach the Eastern gaming market is all about collecting felines in your backyard. No really.
Thinking of getting a new phone to play Neko Atsume on? Check out our video below on the 10 best smartphones in the world today.
1. Change the language to English
Okay, this one might seem obvious but when you download Neko Atsume to your iOS or Android device (there's no Windows Phone version, unfortunately) it will automatically start functioning in Japanese. Don't be intimidated by all those Japanese characters either, you'll just need to pop into the Settings menu and change it around.
Simply tap the Menu button, then select the Settings submenu (represented by a white cog on your screen). From here you just need to tap the English option to switch over the base language from its native Japanese.
2. Get the Yard Expansion ASAP
One of the most important things you need to do when you first start playing Neko Atsume is get the Yard Expansion as soon as possible. You could, technically, fork out for this with actual cash but you certainly don't need to since it only costs 180 silver fish to add it to your collection.
So why is the Yard Expansion DLC for Neko Atsume that important from the off? Well, when you start the game, your virtual home is only big enough to support one food bowl and either five small items or one large large item/three small ones.
The extra space effectively doubles your covers, adding in an extra bowl and more item slots. More bowls and slots equals more food and toys, which equals more cats. Simple.
3. Exchange silver fish for gold fish
Like any free-to-play mobile game, there are plenty of microtransactions in place to help speed the game up and increase your cat collection in double-quick time, however, if you're a smart ailurophile you'll save those real life pennies and use your most common in-game currency: silver fish.
Each time a cat graces your game they'll leave silver fish behind. On the odd occasion, some of the rarer breeds will leave gold fish, but it's not often enough to be much of strategy.
Instead, head over to the shop and you can exchange 500 silver fish for 10 gold ones. It's not the most lucrative exchange rate, but if you want to be able to afford the best toys (to attract the rarest cats) you'll need to use this strategy eventually.
4. Change the date to feed your cats overnight
A bit of a sneaky one this, but perfect if you're looking to use those all-important sleeping hours more productively in the world of Neko Atsume. Since a feline will only remain in your game as long as it's either a) sleeping or b) stuffing its face with food, you'll need to find a way to keep those bowls filled with chow while you're away.
To do this, shift the time on your phone back a few hours so the game's internal clock is tricked into adding a few more hours onto the food depletion time. This way, you'll still have cats (and more fish) by the time you wake up.
5. Use the daily password to get silver fish
Less of a sneaky move and more of a diligent tactic, the daily Neko Atsume password is an easy and effective way to get silver fish every day you play the game. Unless you're fluent in Japanese (or you're using software such as SwiftKey), make sure your game is switched over to English as this requires inputting text.
Open up the menu, select 'News' and tap 'Daily Password' (there will be a cat above this sign) and you'll have a list of five passwords to enter (these change every week). Enter one to get around 10-20 free fish. Keep doing this every day to keep your fish stockpile ever growing.
6. Better toys equal more fish
This might seem a given, but Neko Atsume's gameplay is wholly systematic. The better toys you invest in, the more cats you'll attract to your gameworld. These better toys cost a lot more gold than the standard ones you'll burn through from the shop, but having at least one of these better toys in your item slots is a great tactic to boost your cat collection and silver fish money pot.
Sure, these toys are more expensive, but they also significantly improve your chances of attracting rarer breeds. Rarer breeds pump out a lot more fish so it's a worthwhile investment in the long term.
7. Don't discount the importance of cheap items
Neko Atsume has plenty of expensive items in both food and toy form, but just because the game keeps mentioning them doesn't mean they're vital to your long term experience. Avoid these luxury products until you've built up a nice bank balance of fish, so for your first few weeks of play, stick to the cheaper ones.
When it comes to food, invest in some Tasty Bitz. Inexpensive from the off, this item is perfect because you can refill it for free. It won't bring in any rare cats, but it will keep the larger number of common breeds happy. Shop Cardboard Boxes are also an effective and inexpensive item to fill your item slots with.
8. Maximise the number of cats on screen
Collecting cats is the name of the game and to do this you'll need to use your camera to snap them and add to your Cat Book. The way to do this is to use every inch of space in your Yard to ensure you can attract a big feline population.
We think the best tactic is to use cubes and super-special items. Add all four of the main cubes to your Yard for a start - Orange and Navy Blue cost 320 silver fish, Tiramisu costs 28 gold and Dice costs 32. Be smart and save a big plot of space for the Cat Metropolis - this cat house can accommodate up to six mogs so it's ideal for increasing your population.
9. Get to know the Power Levels of the rare cats
Rather than relying on boring old breeds, Neko Atsume instead opts to define each rare cat by its unusual personality or dress sense. It's a bit quirky, but this is a Japanese game after all! These special felines are the celebrities of Neko Atsume and you'll definitely want to start luring them in once you've built up a few weeks' worth of currency and experience.
When these fancy cats do arrive, keep in mind the importance of their Power Level. This stat represents each rare cats' importance - the higher the number, the greater chance it will force other cats off more attractive toys or food.
10. Tubbs will eat you out of house and home
We couldn't stock you up on tips and fail to mention the food black hole that is Tubbs. This rare cat loves a good bowl of chow or ten - if you manage to lure him to your version of Neko Atsume you'll need to keep an eye on his food bowl and keep it filled (Tasty Bitz are good for most of this, but be sure to add in a few more luxury items too to keep him interested).
He'll leave a nice wad of fish when he's ready to move on, but don't get all caught up in that large tip - you'll need to fill up those bowls straight away or you'll miss out on more cats dropping by your Yard.
- Want more ideas for free mobile games? Check out our list of the best 100 free Android games