Eight hours. That’s how long I’ve been sat here playing PIX The Cat trying to beat my score, and the levels that I can almost memorise but still can’t perfect. This is the latest game from Pastagames, who have developed titles such as Rayman Jungle Run, and despite the PIX The Cat’s almost friendly looking graphics, you can expect to get quite angry. At its most basic PIX The Cat is a puzzle game that relies heavily on split second reactions from you, rewarding progress and punishing mistakes.
The best way to describe the main arcade mode of PIX The Cat is Pacman meets Snake, while a bit of a rave takes place. In this mode as Pix you have to collect eggs that hatch into ducklings, then guide those ducklings to goals. Seems simple enough but those same ducklings are your tail, and just like in Snake will end your run if they end up blocking you in. At first things go slowly but as you progress through the micro levels things get a lot faster and lot more difficult.
The way the game plays is through these micro levels, and there is a set time to complete as many as possible. Each level takes about 10 to 20 seconds and then you move through a gate to the next one. There is no wait between the levels, you’re just instantly thrown in to work out what to do. The key of the game is speed, and eventually you get to a point where you can pick out the perfect path almost immediately. At least that’s the case in the starter difficulty.
In the main mode the levels will change slightly so you can’t memorise the exact layout, making things a bit more difficult. What makes things even more difficult are the enemies that enter the fray. They follow pre-determined paths but you have to time your movements correctly. If you’re a split second too late then you’ll crash into one of them and lose your combo as well as any ducks following you. You want to avoid all of these dangers to hit Fever Time.
Fever Time is the moment where you get the most points, with the screen flashing wildly and music becoming a loud rhythm. You’re also moving at the fastest possible speed so your reaction time is really tested. The way to maintain fever time is to continue getting perfect runs because once you break a combo you lose Fever Time. It’s easy to get back if you can return to the flow, but if the more mistakes you make the more multipliers you lose, and suddenly getting back to Fever Time will be impossible. Also during Fever Time you can destroy the enemies by crashing into them, clearing paths up.
Outside of the Grid mode of the game you also have Laboratory and Nostalgia. There’s also a local multiplayer mode called Arena, though that is limited to the PS4 version of PIX The Cat. The Laboratory levels are the complete opposite of the grid as there is no time limit here. Instead here you have to collect bubbles and guide them to goals. However movement here is different in that PIX will only stop moving once he hits a surface, and that’s the only time you can change direction. Also you have to get all the bubbles before taking them to their goals otherwise you lose.
The Nostalgia mode is a bit more similar to the Grid mode of the main game, but with the stylings of black and white cartoons from the early 20th century. The Arena mode is something I had a bit of a go with, and it kind of reminded me a little bit of classic Bomberman. Here, two to four players face off to collect eggs, and use them as ammo against each other. You can also dash into opponents to take them out too. This mode has potential to be a decent bit of fun if you get a few people together.
When playing through this mode I actually found the d-pad to be much more responsive than the DS4’s analog stick. The movements just seemed to flow better with the buttons, while analog input seemed to lag just slightly. That isn’t idea for a game where twitchy reactions and movement are needed to succeed. Other than that PIX The Cat is fun, and you will keep trying to beat your score as well as those of your friends and the world thanks to the leaderboards.
Overall PIX The Cat is incredibly fun and addictive. Every time I said it would be my last go I would also drift to the restart button, and have another go. The art design is really good looking, and just jumps out of the screen in some cases. The music is very well composed too, adding to the overall atmosphere of the game. The only real problem is the small amount of lag from analog input on PS4, which costs time in a game where every second counts. Since the game is currently free on Plus it really is worth playing, though if you do miss the Plus promotion it is worth picking up if you’re looking for a modern day Pac Man or Snake, with better presentation.