Being born in the late 1980s I never experienced the height of the arcade boom. Having played most of the arcade classics I would say that I am not a huge fan of the arcade genre of video games but I do enjoy them from time to time. In particular I like both Pac-Man and Snake but neither game is even close to one of my favorite games. I bring this up because today I am going to look at the game Pix the Cat. After picking up the game in a bundle I decided to give it a chance since I had heard good things about the game. I have to admit that despite not being a big fan of arcade games, I had quite a bit of fun with the game. It is hard to explain but Pix the Cat is actually one of the best arcade style games that I have played.
Retro Meets Modern
Pix the Cat is the type of game that you would get by combining the two classic arcade games Pac-Man and Snake. From Pac-Man, Pix the Cat takes the idea of navigating a maze while trying to collect pellets (ducklings in Pix the Cat). Each duckling you rescue ends up following Pix which brings in the Snake gameplay where you need to avoid running into the ducklings that are following your character.
The main game mode is your classic arcade mode where you are given a certain amount of time to try to score as many points as you can. It is disappointing that there are only three maps for this mode.The third map is also really hard to unlock so you may end up only having two maps. While having to play the same map over and over again kind of gets boring after a while, the mode is surprisingly fun to play since you want to keep playing the map in order to improve your score.
Pix the Cat also has a nostalgia mode which takes the normal game mode, throws on a classic cartoon aesthetic and adds in some puzzle elements. The gameplay works the same as in the normal mode but you are trying to complete an objective instead of trying to maximize your high score.
The laboratory mode replaces the fast paced speed of the normal game with a pure puzzle game. In the laboratory mode the key is to think out your moves in order to fill in all of the spaces without running into yourself. This mode is quite different than the arcade mode which makes it a nice change of pace.
Finally there is an arena mode where players can play against one another. I never tried out this mode so I can’t really comment on it.
An Addicting Experience
I can’t really explain why but Pix the Cat is the type of game you can get addicted to pretty easily. You will go into the game telling yourself that you will only play a couple games. Those few games turn into quite a few games and before long you have wasted hours. Pix the Cat is just one of those type of games that are hard to put down once you start playing.
The addicting quality of the game kind of surprised me since I wouldn’t consider myself to be a big fan of arcade style games. While high score games are fun to play I usually don’t stick with them very long since I am not a high score chaser. I am more of the type of gamer that likes to play a game to its’ completion and then move onto something new. Pix the Cat kept bringing me back though which is a testament to how fun the game is to play. I don’t think I will ever play the game for long periods of time but I could see it as the type of game that I could come back to from time to time.
By far the biggest problem I had with Pix the Cat are the controls. Just like its’ inspiration Pac-Man, the controls just seem to be a little off. This is something I have never liked about Pac-Man. In order to get Pac-Man/Pix to move how you want them to, you need to push the button at the exact right time. This wouldn’t be a big problem if it just meant that you had to time your button presses a little earlier. You could adjust to that. The problem is that the controls seem to be all over the place at times. Sometimes you will end up pressing the buttons too early and sometimes you will press the buttons too late.
While Pac-Man gets a pass on the imprecise controls due to its’ age, I think Pix the Cat could have done a much better job tightening up the controls. I understand wanting to stay true to the inspiration but this is one area where the game could have added some modern improvements to the formula. It is just so frustrating losing a large bonus multiplier due to the touchy controls instead of a mistake that you actually made. The lack of polish in the controls hurts Pix the Cat quite a bit and if the game wasn’t so addicting it might have ruined the entire game.
The imprecise controls are made worse by the fact that in order to progress you have to be almost perfect in order to unlock some of the later levels. No matter how well you are playing, it is very likely that the controls will lead you to making a mistake at some point in the level which will ruin your chances at getting to the next level.
In addition to some addicting gameplay, Pix the Cat does a great job with the theme/atmosphere. The main part of the game takes a lot of inspiration from classic arcades. It feels like the creators took a classic arcade game and brought it into the modern age. If you like the old retro video game aesthetic, you are going to love the style of Pix the Cat.
One thing that I really liked about Pix the Cat is how the game does a fantastic job blending the different stages/levels together. While the game could have just made a bland transition from one stage to another, the game uses the creative idea of having each stage directly lead into the next stage. After clearing a stage you end up entering a portal which takes you directly into the next stage. While this looks cool and adds to the style of the game, it actually is incorporated into the gameplay as well. In some situations you might actually have to travel between stages in order to avoid losing your combo.
Adding to the atmosphere are the announcers. I found some of the voices to be kind of annoying with them repeating the same phrases over and over again. The announcers work perfectly for the game though.
While the normal game looks like a retro video game, the game decides to create totally different themes for the additional game modes. The laboratory mode’s theme is pretty bland but the nostalgia mode’s theme is fantastic. The graphics are all black and white and the character models look like they could have been taken right out of an old black and white cartoon.
I have to commend the creators on the overall theme of Pix the Cat. The game could have just slapped some quick graphics together and they wouldn’t have affected the gameplay at all. The creators decided to put in the time to build a great theme though which shows and makes Pix the Cat a better game.
Bang For Your Buck
The value you get out of Pix the Cat will depend on how much you like arcade style games. Pix the Cat really doesn’t have an end. It is the type of game that you keep playing in order to try and improve your score. If you don’t like playing the same level over and over again you will probably tire of Pix the Cat pretty quickly since the main game mode only has three levels with the third level being very hard to unlock.
The game thankfully adds some additional game modes which add length to the game. The laboratory and nostalgia modes add some unique puzzle modes to the game. They both should add a couple of hours to the game. There is also the multiplayer arena mode which should add time to the game for people who enjoy multiplayer. I never tried the arena mode so I can’t comment on how good it is.
Since Pix the Cat is not the type of game that you can actually beat it is hard to estimate how long that you will actually end up playing the game. Right now I have played the game for around six hours. Since it is the type of game that I will play every so often I think I will probably end up playing the game for around ten to fifteen hours before I get sick of it.
Pix the Cat retails for $10 and it is probably worth that much if you are a big fan of arcade/high score games. If you think you will play the game a lot I think you can get $10 out of the game. If you tire quickly of games or are not a huge fan of arcade games I would probably recommend waiting for a sale or waiting for the game to be bundled again. Since I got the game in a bundle, I got my money out of it.
Overall I would have to say that I was impressed with Pix the Cat. I thought it was going to be a pretty average arcade/retro type game. It is actually a very good arcade style game that is quite addicting. The game offers several interesting game modes and has a great overall style. Unfortunately some imprecise controls and a steep difficulty spike keep the game from reaching its’ full potential.
If you like retro arcade games like Pac-Man and Snake you will likely love Pix the Cat. If these type of games don’t appeal to you though, you may get a little fun out of Pix the Cat but you will probably tire of it pretty quickly.