In my last review
, I had mentioned the prospect of games casting cats as lead characters. Since then, we've also had AQUA KITTY UDX: Xbox One Ultra Edition
, and now, because it's apparently true that all things come in threes, we have Pix the Cat
. Described as a crossover between Snake
, Pix The Cat
offers some truly frantic gameplay, but in trying to be a love letter to those games of yester-year, does this cat land on its feet?
Pix must be the fastest cat on two legs that I've ever seen.
Pix himself has already made his gaming debut, in Arkedo Series 03: PIXEL
, but now he's ready to take charge in his titular game. There's no concrete story here, and naturally this type of game doesn't need one, but you take control of Pix, as he runs about the Grid of Infinity trying to get countless ducklings to safety. In a small squared level, you must collect the ducklings, which then follow you like a tail that you cannot bump into or you die, and then lead them to the targets. Once done, you will see a small preview of the next level, with a warp gate through which you head to do it all again and again. The gameplay loop is fairly simple, and offers a lot of fast paced fun, but trying to master it is a whole other ball game.
As you succeed in cracking eggs to free the ducklings and send them on their way, your combo will get higher, the screen will change colour, and Pix will get faster. To keep your combo climbing, you must collect all of the ducklings before you get any to their target, or else this will break your combo and you will have to rebuild it again. Speed increases come at specific multiplier milestones and max out at Fever Time, which sees Pix running at such a speed that makes it nearly impossible to manouver him correctly. The earlier levels start simply, with only yourself serving as an obstacle. The game offers a courtesy of a few seconds when you bump into your an obstacle in order to try and turn in a different direction. This is where it's obvious that Snake
has been a big influence, and this nostalgic feeling definitely works in Pix's
favour. The colour changes can also be very off-putting, especially if it happens during a crucial bit of the level, but it does give the game the arcade cabinet feeling for which it's obviously aiming.
Hitting your tail might not be game over, if you're fast enough.
The game's variety is also an unfortunate detriment. As you warp between levels, the size of both Pix and the level will often change, sometimes making you tiny on a very small level and sometimes huge on a big level. The problem with this is you never know what to expect going into the next level, a deliberate design decision that is only partly fun and partly annoying. The constant changes in size mean you don't always have enough time to adjust to what is coming next. Throw the colour changing combos into the mix and it can sometimes be hard trying to concentrate on the actual level, and will probably cause many deaths for you along the way.
Another issue that Pix has is the controls. In a game this fast paced, the controls need to be super responsive and able to keep up with your quick movements. Unfortunately they don't do this, and whilst some errors will inevitably be down to you, a large handful of them will also be because you pressed right and Pix didn't turn right, or he turned right too late. The controls do not match how quick you need to be, making this a real point of disruption for Pix. It's not game breaking, but it definitely needed to perform better.
In terms of content, Pix is a mixed bag. The main arcade mode offers you three styles: starter, main and dessert, each having a set of levels that don't change each run apart from the egg locations. With a set time within you must complete each level, and technically infinite lives, it's a case of try and try again until you can better your own score. The game focuses on leaderboards and being the best you can be, so this minimal arcade mode can be forgiven as there are daily leaderboard levels to complete, and you can play around with player ghosts for more competition.
Saving ducks has never been so hectic.
Where the game offers more content is in the other modes, Lab and Nostalgia. Both are unique modes with a great number of levels to complete in each and variations on the rules. Nostalgia sees you take control of Pix in a Mickey Mouse style, with black and white colours and a jolly tune to accompany it. You're tasked with simply collecting a certain amount of ducklings in the time limit, avoiding various obstacles and maneuvering around different levels. The Laboratory mode challenges you to collect atoms and drop them off like you would the ducklings, but this time you can't drop any off until you have collected them all. Both of these modes also have secondary objectives, to complete in a certain time and a certain number of moves. These levels will keep you playing for hours, and trying to finish all of them with the extra objective is definitely a long and daunting task.
In terms of achievements, though Pix only has 11, do not think this is going to be an easy completion. The two target scores for main and dessert modes are a challenge on their own, and will require many replays, no doubt. Getting ten perfects in a row (cracking all the eggs before saving any ducklings) and achieving five one million runs in a row are another couple of daunting tasks, but are no doubt achievable with practice once you sort of know what is coming next. The other achievements that will take a lot of time is completing the Lab and Nostalgia modes, as well as each of the secondary objectives on these levels too. To the dismay of achievement hunters everywhere, there are a couple of unlocks tied to the daily leaderboards, so getting these done before many people pick up the game is advisable, though the leaderboards refresh every day so this isn't as daunting a task as it sounds.
SummaryPix The Cat
offers some truly frenetic gameplay and finds modest success in being the Snake
crossover as which it's billed. Sometimes the game presents itself as too busy to allow for focus on what you're actually meant to be doing, and when you are focusing, the controls don't always respond how you'd want. Saving the ducks again and again might send you a bit mad, in more ways than one, but you'll definitely find some fun here if you were ever a fan of the two games addressed in Pix
's figurative love letter.
- Great number of levels in Lab and Nostalgia game modes
- Bright, colourful, frenetic gameplay with a soundtrack to match
- Let down by unresponsive controls
- Colour and size changes mid levels can be off-putting
The reviewer spent approximately five hours collecting eggs and saving ducklings, running around in circles and failing A LOT, unlocking five of the game's 11 achievements. An Xbox One code was provided by ID@Xbox for this review.