PIX the CAT – Review

Title   PIX the CAT
Developer  Pasta Games
Publisher  Pasta Games
Platform  PS4, PS Vita
Genre  Arcade
Release Date  October 8th, 2014
Official Site  http://www.pastagames.com/pix-the-cat/

I’m a big fan of neo-retro games. Several ‘classic’ titles that I’ve not enjoyed much at all have all ended up being big hits with me after a splash of neon paint was added and the action was set to a techno soundtrack. Pac-Man: CE, Galaga Legions DX, Space Invaders: Extreme, and Futuridium all managed it and ended up getting a heap of play time out of me. Pix the Cat takes a few retro and neo-retro inspirations of its own. It features Pix, who I vaguely remember seeing in an iOS game a few years back, a pixelated cat who, for reasons unknown, has to navigate a series of Pac-Man style mazes in order to hatch ducklings who he then guides to safe points on the stage. It’s a simple concept and there aren’t that many enemies to worry about, but the challenge comes from making sure you get all the ducklings first before you drop any off. If you do that, you get a ‘Perfect’ bonus and that will be the key to getting the big scores.

Also, as you hatch the ducklings, they form behind you, much like the old mobile phone game Snake. Eventually, you need to consider not only the level but also your own tail as you try to figure out a way forward without crashing into yourself or blocking your own escape route. Each maze, when cleared, will reveal the entrance to the next, giving the impression of going deeper and deeper into the game as you progress, but you can also retreat back to cleared screens in order to try to manage your tail a bit. If you keep your combo going, the action speeds up, which again leads to bigger and better scoring opportunities later on. It’s a simple concept. Your eyes will frantically scan each new maze layout as you attempt to work out the most rewarding way to complete it.

Games only last a few minutes, giving the game a nice urgent feel and a lot of accessibility. Many puzzle games, when mastered, can go on forever so playing in bite-sized chunks like this is always the way forward for anything a bit arcadey. Ultimately, it comes down to refining your route through the mazes as you attempt to get the bigger scores. You’ll want to, too, as there is content and features locked behind score barriers, including puzzle modes, which give you single-screen problems to solve and are quite fun and rewarding, even if there are maybe too many of them. One of these modes wins extra points for using a ’30s art style akin to Felix the Cat. It’s called ‘nostalgia’ mode and is a charming extra, if you can unlock it.

Pix the Cat isn’t a game with much depth and, instead, focuses on short, score-attack gameplay. High-level play requires some planning and a lot of d-pad dexterity, and it works well, although I found the PS4 version to be a little easier to control than the Vita one (the game is a cross-buy), although the game looks great on both formats. It’s not the most complex-looking title out there, but the bold, colourful action is nice and doesn’t obscure anything, apart from when things deliberately get a little messy in ‘Fever’ mode, which is triggered after a period of comboing, and which allows you to move fast and attack enemies.

One negative is that progress, which is incredibly important in the game, isn’t shared between formats. Both the PS4 and PS Vita have seperate saves, leaderboards and, rather irritatingly, trophy sets. It’s a shame as switching between the two for a quick attempt at unlocking something new would have been a really smart way to do things. Once you find your feet with the game, constantly battling to beat your scores is addictive and enjoyable, which is all you really want from an arcade game. Equal parts Pac-Man: CE, Snake and Chu Chu Rocket, Pix the Cat is a simple game, albeit with bombastic presentation and is at home on both the PS4 and the PS Vita.

  • immediate, addictive gameplay
  • nice presentation
  • good for leaderboard battles
  • cross-buy
  • is pretty tough to unlock some modes, and the trophies are ridiculous
  • no online modes
  • no cross-saving

Pix the Cat is worth a look if you like your retro games, and maybe warrants a quick peak if you want something a little less serious to play on your PS4 or Vita. It's very indie and pretty basic, but offers a nice, old-school challenge for anyone prepared to look past its charming appearance.

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