Pix the Cat is an arcade puzzle game akin to classics of the genre. Manoeuvre Pix the Cat through top-down levels to collect eggs and guide the hatched ducklings to safety. However, there are many obstacles and hazards to overcome, including your own conga-line of ducklings behind you. Think Snake meets Pac-Man.
Pix the Cat is fun and addictive, with simple yet challenging gameplay that’s perfect for anyone. The controls are simple; move up, down, left or right in order to guide your way around each level whilst thinking ahead to steer clear of hazards and your growing following behind you.
Pix the Cat has four modes:
Arcade Mode has you delving deeper and deeper into the Grid of Infinity, hatching eggs and leading the ducklings to safety. The action becomes increasingly faster the more combos you build up which can become very hectic, requiring quick reflexes. Each playthrough in this mode goes for five minutes with no ability to increase it, meaning that the mode is mainly focussed on setting high scores.
Laboratory spins a different twist on the regular gameplay. Collect all of the duckling eggs, turning the zones into Safe Zones, and not a moment sooner. This may sound simple enough however once you move in a certain direction, you will be unable to stop. Think of those classic ice puzzle levels, requiring you to line yourself up with blocks and obstacles. While this mode may give you some bad Pokémon Gold and Silver Ice Cave flashbacks, it does a great job in switching up the tempo of the game if you’re in the mood for a more strategic puzzle mode.
Nostalgia Mode takes a more bite-sized approach, with each level requiring you to retrieve the required amount of eggs whilst avoiding hazards and getting yourself trapped by your own ducklings behind you. At the top of the screen, a flower will be slowly making its way towards a goat that will, if you’re not quick enough, eat the poor thing. Save the eggs and the sentient flower whilst keep yourself alive in the process… no pressure.
Arena is the game’s multiplayer mode, pitting two to four players against each other. The aim of this mode is to simply collect as many eggs as you can and shoot them at your opponents. Each coloured egg provides a different action; allowing you to dash, shoot missiles and set mines in order to be the last robot-cat-thing standing. This mode creates some incredibly tense moments and with its simple pickup-and-play style of gameplay, it’s sure to be a smash hit at any party or social gathering.
Each mode does a fantastic job at mixing up the gameplay, keeping Pix the Cat fresh while avoiding repetition. We didn’t experience a single frame rate drop or technical hiccup throughout our entire playthrough, which is essential for some of the game’s more fast-paced levels. Lastly, the Pix the Cat’s usage of HD Rumble is well implemented in the Nintendo Switch version, with light subtleties that nonchalantly inform you of any significant occurrences, such as the flower being eaten by the goat or running into your own tail of ducklings.
On a negative note, Pix the Cat is a very difficult game to play with an analogue stick as the game requires quick and precise movements. I even found that the game didn’t work well with the D-Pad on my 8-Bitdo SF30 and in the end, the game is best played with the four directional buttons on a standard set of Joy-Cons.
As Pix the Cat is divided into four separate modes that differ a lot from one another, the level designs specifically cater for each respective mode. Playdigious certainly could have taken the easy way out and rehashed the same levels for each mode, but that extra effort elevates the game’s appeal and puzzle quality to an astounding level that actually had me stop and really take in what I was seeing. Even down to the Arena, there are a wide variety of maps which help to make the gameplay as fresh and as interesting as possible.
I won’t spend too much time on the story aspect as there really isn’t a story per se. However, Pix the Cat’s unique personality gives the game a certain charm to it and more importantly, some context to the madness. Each mode has you delve into an old school CRT television on the menu select screen and with a little bit of 3D modelling, it makes for a nice touch.
Graphics / Art Direction
Each mode has a unique art style that sticks out from the others – just like their gameplay. The Arcade Mode and the Arena highlights the bright flashing neon lights and over the top effects that we’ve come to expect from modern arcade machines. Laboratory takes a softer approach, with softer colours and less flashing lights. Nostalgia Mode is my personal favourite, as will most likely be many others, taking on a classic black and white 1930s animation approach that seems to be popular in gaming after Cuphead caught the eyes of gamers.
Music / Sound Design
The music is different in each mode, with their respective tracks adding to the general tone of the mode’s gameplay. Arcade Mode has fast-paced techno tunes that can get repetitive, despite the modes quick five minute bursts of gameplay. Laboratory takes a more slow-paced, atmospherical approach that’s heavy on the bass – its drop in tempo matches the modes methodical nature, allowing you to strategically think through every puzzle. Nostalgia Mode contains a quick tempoed piano melody akin to those you would find in classic silent films during the era – a perfect fit for its visual presentation despite becoming slightly repetitive after a while. And finally, the Arena features fast-paced distorted guitars and heavy drumming that creates the perfect intensity for some high-stakes multiplayer action.
Final Score: 83%
Pix the Cat takes so much of what the classic arcade genre had to offer and techno-beats its way into the modern era of gaming. The game has clearly had a lot of love and care go into its variety and presentation, allowing it to become accessible to anyone whilst standing out amongst the crowd. Truly a must-play for any arcade gaming enthusiast.
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- Belinda Cubitt