Retro gaming is always fun. It’s nostalgic, entertaining, and usually easy to play and excel at. There are few games nowadays that do a good job when it comes to replicating old school games, but I must say this one has by far taken the cake.
Have you ever pictured a world where you had your own announcer who narrates your progress? Regardless of your answer, add this to that picture: a blue cat that collects eggs, hatches them, and drops the ducklings down portals that resemble manholes. Now you’re picturing Pix the Cat.
Pix the Cat is a wonderful tribute to classic, 8-bit gaming. If Pac-Man and Snake had a baby, somehow they’d have this vibrant blue feline. You play as Pix, a friendly wildcat that happens to collect and lead ducklings to their portal haven. The game has a similar leveling system to Pac-Man’s, where it’s vital to be able to think and move quickly and use the levels’ doors to avoid crashing into yourself. In reference to Snake, the ducklings you pick up act as a tail until you are able to drop them off.
The less stalling you do, the faster you go, the more combos you obtain and boom! You’ve now reached Fever Time, which mimics Pac-Man when he eats his giant meth balls (terminology is courtesy of CollegeHumor’s Pac-Man Ghost skit). During this period, you can head butt skulls that would normally decimate your ducklings. Fever Time won’t stop until you break the combo. And that’s just the beginning.
What’s next? Three other different game modes! So, no, you shouldn’t just play this for a couple of minutes and be able to Alt-Tab to your browser in order to Google that random thought you just had. There’s a lot more to Pix the Cat than Snake tendencies and Pac-Man-esque levels, even though that is nearly the entire premise of this game.
In total, Pix the Cat has four different modes you can play: Arcade, Nostalgia, Laboratory, and Arena. Each mode has its own rules. Arcade and Nostalgia feature the Pix. Both modes follow a similar concept of picking up the ducklings. However, Nostalgia switches things up a bit. The mode doesn’t have that swift, upbeat tune that I mentioned before, and it doesn’t have the vivid colors, either.
Instead, Nostalgia is in black and white with early 1900s jingles (think Steamboat Willie). Furthermore, you are still picking up eggs and hatching them, but you are not dropping them off. The point of this mode is to carrying all the ducklings without getting trapped in a maze created by your tail, and to avoid the skulls and mean sea urchins. You must do this quickly in order to save the flower from being eaten by a goat at the top of your scene, which is how you attain a bonus for the level.
The other two modes are Arena and Laboratory. The former is a multiplayer mode. The latter features a petri dish specimen that must pick up bubble-like eggs which web together. In this mode, you can’t drop the bubbles off before collecting all of them on the board. There is also a minimum amount of moves you can make in the levels in order to be granted a bonus. The Arena mode can play up to four people, all of which play as cat robots. The purpose of this mode is to collect eggs, shoot them at friends, and use them to have the ultimate standoff with another player before one of you explodes. Unfortunately, as awesome as Arena mode is, it is only local, so you’ll only be playing with your friends—in the same building.
The game focuses on high scores. Whichever mode you are playing, your main objective is to beat the score you achieved during the last playthrough. This is to be expected, since it does have an arcade game format, but Pix somehow instills you with the inspiration to do better than you would ever expect yourself to do.
The game has what I’d like to call motivators. In Arcade, for example, you have the option to use shadows that will show you the best of another playthrough. So, while you play you have the option to show yourself the shadow of your most accomplished playthrough, which gives you the chance to manipulate your movements in order to finish the levels more efficiently.
This game has a very suitable ambience for its entire setting. There’s amazing coloring, mixing bright and neon colors that accentuates each level Pix enters. During Fever Time the colors switch to a flashing negative display, which can disorient someone with sensitive eyes. I was fine, but it did throw me off quite a few times (and that was probably the point of it). Besides the visuals, the score was spot on! Whichever mode you are playing, the music flatters each situation, from deep thinking in Laboratory to 8-bit techno music to keep Fever Time going.
Notably, Pix didn’t make his debut on the PC, but on the PS Vita and PS4 instead, which is the first system I played the game on. Comparing the two, nothing really changed. The PC version even supports controllers, so feel free to hook a PlayStation controller up to it. The game has simple up, down, left, right controls—nothing more and nothing less. That being said, WASD, arrow keys and a d-pad (if you decide to use a controller) makes moving in all modes easier and quicker. This is nice to keep in mind when playing the Arena and Nostalgia since your racing against time.
Sounds like fun, right? Well, Pix the Cat does have a few sticking points. The game has the tendency to be repetitive, which is expected due to its arcade setup. There is also the bothersome element that you’ll have to jump through hoops to unlock the other modes. I wouldn’t necessarily label these as letdowns, as they are kinks that could be changed, but they don’t ruin the experience.
The game has some trivial shortcomings, but overall it is fun and exciting to play. On top of that, it presents you with enough challenges and ways to make the game that more interesting. Plus, the main star is a blue cat, and you can’t get anything better than cats! According to the Internet.
Pix the Cat was reviewed on Playstation 4 using a code provided by PastaGames. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
- Very easy to pick up, but still presents a hefty challenge.
- Lovely sounds and visuals that get you in the mood for this type of gaming.
- Once you’ve played, you are hooked.
- Multiplayer is local, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
- Chance of losing interest in the game due to repetition within all the modes.
- You have to put in a lot work you may not want to in order to unlock certain modes.