Like any arcade game worthy of your time, Pix the Cat is a game that is simple to pick up and play – yet difficult to master. This indie title from a small French studio called Pastagames released on both PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 as part of October’s PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection.
Explaining Pix the Cat is just as difficult as it is to master the game. Playing as Pix your objective in each level is to collect the ducklings that are in their eggs and take them to the safety of the circles that are located in each stage. Once all of the ducklings have reached their safe haven a portal to the next stage unlocks where you will repeat the process and so on.
The effect when moving from one stage to the next is fantastic, with each stage appearing within the one that came before it, like a picture within a picture. You can move back and forth freely between the stages, ducklings and all, if you need to get out of a sticky situation or use the previous stage as a sneaky shortcut through the stage you are tackling.
Pix the Cat starts you off at a reasonable pace where you will find yourself manoeuvring through levels and dropping off our ducklings with relative ease. Attaining a high score in Pix the Cat’s Arcade mode is done by raising your combo meter and attaining a ‘Perfect’ stage. To perfect a stage you must collect all ducklings without depositing any of them and then drop them all off in their individual circles once they are all following you.
As you rack up the Perfect stages and the combo meter grows, the game will pick up speed. You will find that the game really does test you when the pace picks up and it does become a challenge to stop the Cat from careering into the tailing ducklings. As you delve deeper into the game’s Arcade stages, you will come across enemies in the form of Skulls and spike obstacles that will halt your combo and will cause you to lose any ducklings that you are ferrying about.
To achieve the highest scores in Pix the Cat you will need to fill your combo meter to activate ‘Fever Time’. In this state you will be travelling at fast speeds and collecting a lot of points for continuing your combo. In Fever Time you can crash into the skulls that litter the later levels to earn 10k points per skull to really boost your total score.
When this all clicked into place for me and I was perfecting multiple stages in a row, I felt unstoppable. The game’s visuals and audio draw you in and I was soon hooked in a trance like state, ploughing through the stages until I inevitably crashed into my own tail of ducklings and lost a chunk of my combo meter.
The various stages that you will play through are designed to perfection, the only thing to blame for failure will be yourself, and I often beat myself up for daft mistakes rather than blaming poor design. The only complaint that I can aim towards Pix the Cat is that at times the controls do feel a little unresponsive and this can leave you powerless to preventing a perfect run from ending.
Alongside the Arcade mode, Pix the Cat has two additional modes – Laboratory and Nostalgia mode. Laboratory mode sees you tasked with getting the ducklings to the exit circles in a set number of moves. The twist here is that whichever direction you chose to move in, your character will slide in that direction until a wall halts your move. This mode does not match the pace of the Arcade mode but it does offer a more cerebral challenge, one to really get you planning out the perfect path.
Nostalgia mode is another brain-teaser. With a fantastic aesthetic look that is reminiscent of early black and white Walt Disney cartoons this mode will task you with collecting a set number of eggs within a certain timeframe. This mode starts off relatively simple but it soon escalates to levels that feel nigh on impossible. The sense of achievement when you do succeed in these stages matches the feeling of relief from knowing that the stage can be beaten and that the game is not trolling you!
It is testament to Pastagames’ design that Pix the Cat rarely frustrated me as I played through the game. I found myself constantly picking up my PlayStation Vita to try and better my previous score, unlocking the aforementioned game modes, additional characters and voiceovers as I did so.
With the game being free for PlayStation Plus members, it is inexcusable for those that have access to this gem for free to not play it. For those that do not have the luxury of PlayStation Plus, I would highly recommend this game. It is great for short burst of play but be warned, I often found myself playing for well over an hour after I picked up my Vita with the intentions of a quick 5 minute game.
I must admit that when I first saw this game it wasn’t one that I really paid much attention to, I wasn’t too fussed about whether I would play it or not. Now, after spending a good amount of time playing this, I am glad that I did take a chance on this title and can safely say that Pix is a cat that got the cream!