Strap in for the extensive backstory on Google’s latest playable Halloween Doodle, which has a history stretching all the way back to the long-ago before-time year of 2016.
You’re a cat. You’re also a wizard. There are ghosts, and you fight them with magic.
Okay, that didn’t actually take very long.
This year’s Doodle is a direct sequel to 2016’s playable Magic Cat Academy Doodle, which sees a small black cat named Momo defending her school and her classmates against a series of ghosts taking over the classrooms and kitchen. In that game, you fight ghosts by drawing the symbols above their heads, which translates to Momo waving her wand in the appropriate gesture and firing off an anti-ghost spell. Momo is silent (makes sense, since cats don’t talk), but she’s still a charismatic character who faces her spirit adversaries with a grim little frown of determination, and celebrates every completed level with a cocky little wand-twirl and grin.
The new 2020 Doodle uses the exact same mechanic and gestures. Only the setting has changed — after Momo defeated the magically enlarged boss-ghost in 2016, it fell into the ocean and is now possessing sea life, a volcano, and even seemingly the water. The new version offers a couple of minor twists — a jellyfish shield and a spray attack to supplement the lightning bolt you probably shouldn’t be using underwater. But mostly, the only changes are the setting, and a cat-fish captain ally who sails you into dark waters.
Still, for those of us who replayed the 2016 game, the 2020 sequel is a lovely Halloween treat. Google brought Momo back in 2017 for a short film about a lonely ghost seeking her friendship. But while 2018’s spirit-collector Doodle game was ridiculously addictive, and 2019’s trick-or-treat advent calendar was mildly informative, they abandoned Momo. It’s nice to have her back in action.
For fans of these games, it’s worth checking out Google’s posts about the Doodles, which include the dev team credits, early gameplay art, details about the real creatures that inspired this year’s antagonists, and some playful development notes:
The original concept for the game involved a magic cat making a soup that was so good, it raised the dead. Connecting soup to Halloween proved too abstract, so the team shifted to the idea of a wizard school. This opened the door to a more robust world filled with interesting characters and paw-some themes.