“HEY PAC-MAN, MEET SNAKE!”
If you are one to enjoy the pure arcade fun of games like Pac-Man and Snake, then Pix the Cat should be right up your alley. Pasta Games, developer of Rayman: Jungle Run, is making their first foray into the home console market with Pix the Cat on PlayStation 4, but also sticking to their roots with a handheld version on the PlayStation Vita. It’s the same game on both platforms, but the gameplay lends itself to shorter play sessions which means it’s great on the go on the Vita.
As mentioned above, Pix the Cat is an arcade title, and it doesn’t try to be anything but. You can get into the action very quickly; because there’s no story or anything of the sort, it’s just pure gameplay. Pix the Cat has an art style reminiscent of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, popping with vivid colors and a funky upbeat soundtrack. Unfortunately there are not many customization options, a feature that would have injected a bit more variation into the repetitive nature of the game. Overall the presentation comes together nicely and helps to make the gameplay feel fast and fun.
In Pix the Cat it’s all about mastering the gameplay to rack up higher scores, complete challenges and unlock new modes and other special features. The game has missions that require you to meet certain objectives within the various gameplay modes, which are all nicely tracked so you can easily view your progress and jump right into the action. Completing missions unlocks various in-game rewards, most importantly new levels and game modes. Pix the Cat features online leaderboards and an option to view your friends top runs in the form of a “ghost” during your game session, though unfortunately this only applies to the Arcade mode.
The heart of the Pix the Cat’s replayability comes in the form of its Arcade mode. In this mode you control your cat character and must navigate through various “grids,” going “deeper” through each one until the time limit is up. Each grid contains various eggs that you must collect, turning them into small ducks that follow behind you as you move. The ducks must be dropped off by moving over certain points marked on the grid. The challenge is that you cannot pass through the ducks that are following you, so you must navigate properly to avoid getting trapped–exactly how the classic gameplay worked in Snake. This is further complicated by enemies and an increase in your movement speed as your combo rises. Arcade mode is mainly about challenging your friends for top spot on the leaderboards. This is the most enjoyable mode in the game, one that you’ll want to keep coming back to. It’s fast and hectic and offers some great challenge amongst friends.
Laboratory mode is an unlockable mode that offers up a variation in the gameplay. In this mode you control a blob sort of character and collect “bubbles” that follow behind you in a similar fashion as the ducks in Arcade mode. You still can’t cross through the bubbles behind you, but now you slide and can only control your direction at wall stops. You’re still collecting the bubbles, dropping them off, and avoiding enemies, but this time the focus is more on the amount of moves it takes you to complete the level. Due to this element and the removal of time limits, this mode feels much more slow and strategic, which is a big change. The mode is broken into 100 levels and your score is tracked so you can aim to beat your personal bests. There are no leaderboards here, and the slower gameplay can become monotonous, but more strategic players will welcome the change of pace.
The third and final gameplay mode is called Nostalgia, and it feels a lot like the game Snake, which originated in arcades back in the 1970’s. You have full control of your cats movement and the objective is to again collect eggs that turn into ducks, though you no longer have to drop the ducks off. Once the target amount of eggs have been collected the level is complete. As usual, you need to ensure you don’t get trapped without any possible moves as that will result in the failure of the level. There are 70 levels to master with various gameplay adjustments through to keep things fresh. Nostalgia mode feels good, I enjoyed the traditional gameplay elements and how they mixed it up along the way.
Overall Pix the Cat has a lot to offer, with hundreds of levels, varying difficulties and a lot of replay value. Perfectionists could spend hours playing the game, it offers a very solid challenge. The downside here is that the game may feel very repetitive to some, it could have benefited from some deeper customization options. It also doesn’t feel as tight control-wise as I’d like, but this is a minor gripe. The bottom line is that it’s fun and additive, two very important factors for a game of this type.
The Verdict: 7.5 out of 10
Pix the Cat is simple, it’s fast, it’s quirky, it’s challenging and most importantly, it’s fun. The gameplay hook is there for those that love challenging their friends for high scores, and there’s a nice puzzle element as well for the more strategic players. The content offering is solid, with many different levels and modes that should keep you coming back. Pasta Games captured the retro gameplay feel, while also adding in their unique touch. It may not be the best game of its kind, but I’d recommend all arcade and mobile lovers give this game a go; you won’t be disappointed.
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Ryan Amirault is a friendly Canadian who has been an avid gamer since the age of 5 and is a devout PlayStation fan. He is also allergic to cats. Follow him on Twitter.