Pix the Cat (PlayStation 4)

Developer(s) – Pasta Games

Seemingly developed as a love letter to fans of the second-generation classic Pac-Man and the early mobile phone game Snake, Pix the Cat combines gameplay elements of both titles, and offers a gaming experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Although I found it to have its flaws, I ended up really enjoying this title for what it was, and how much fin there is to be had whilst playing.

Graphics – 6/10

The visuals in the game are loud and imposing, which for an arcade game is infinitely unusual. Although a similar style has been seen before in the championship edition of Pac-Man, Pix the Cat takes it to a whole new level, with the exaggerated perpetuation of early second generation titles relying on a wide array of colours to stand out, making Pix the Cat look as captivating as the Blackpool illuminations. But that being said, I feel that there is a danger of the visual style coming across as too distracting, and deviating players away from the gameplay. Another con is that the stage layout can be confusing at times, since the objective of the game involves entering stages from stages, which appear smaller on the current stage being played on, making them difficult to spot at times. Though some would argue that this is part of the game’s level of challenge, I see it as an unnecessary complication.

Gameplay – 6/10

However, regardless of unnecessary complications, the game is still pretty addictive and enjoyable to play. It revolves around the player character collecting a number of eggs on the screen which hatch into ducks, and bringing them to a number of circles often found on the other side of the screen until all the eggs are brought to all the circles, and thus allowing the player to advance to the next screen until the timer runs out. Players can maintain a combo chain by consistently collecting all the eggs on the screen and taking them to all the circles on the screen in single fell swoops without going back ad collecting eggs twice in a single screen. But the gameplay mechanics are nowhere near as complicated as I’m perhaps making them out to be. Pix the Cat represents the epitome of gaming simplicity synonymous with the generations it has been inspired by.

The problem I personally found with the gameplay was that I felt the compulsion to try and maintain combos for the entire time limits, and whenever I accidentally broke my combo, I felt the need to start again, which in turn, eliminated any sense of fluency within the game. But I wouldn’t count that as being too much of a bad element; it’s simply an easy game to learn, but hard to master.

Controls – 9/10

In the beginning, I did find the controls to be a little bit stiff, but otherwise, there are no problems. Since this game represents the epitome of gaming simplicity, this is also reflected in the game’s control scheme, which is by no means a bad thing. Many games to have come and gone, have incorporated controls schemes designed to be innovative, but have ended up coming with a whole new series of complications, so I never tend to slate a game, which purposefully doesn’t try to be innovative with its control scheme.

Lifespan – 10/10

As an obvious throwback to 70s arcade titles, such as Asteroids and Pac-Man, replay value, and in turn the game’s lifespan, only lasts as long as individual player’s interest in the game, which I can guarantee will be a particularly long time. There are several game modes to keep things interesting, but the game follows the age-old formula of players simply trying to reach the high score as its main objective, and again, there’s nothing wrong with that, provided the game is satisfying and engrossing enough, which in this case, it is.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The game’s basic premise simply revolves around the titular character hatching duck eggs and taking them to circles. In lieu of arcade game tradition, Pix the Cat is extremely light on story, and in my opinion, shouldn’t lose marks for not having that, which it doesn’t need. Though it may be viewed as a nice touch for an arcade game in this day and age to include some form of narrative, I think there was too much of a high risk of adding a story to the first instalment of a game that already includes so many outlandish elements, and it may have ruined the overall gaming experience. But thankfully, this title has been kept simple enough for this problem not to occur.

Originality – 7/10

Though this title clearly has its influences, like many indie titles I’ve reviewed this year, both gameplay concepts have been handled nicely, and the end result is something fairly unique. Gameplay elements of second-generation titles were inherently similar to one another, but the best ones, such as Dig Dug and Yars’ Revenge always had certain characteristics and properties, which made them stand out, and this is no exception.

Happii

Happii

Overall, though flawed, Pix the Cat is still a particularly enjoyable game to play, and I would recommend it to anybody wishing to experience gaming simplicity, or to players seeking to experience a sense of nostalgia within the current generation. It gives testament to the fact that although this style of play may be yesterday’s news in terms of mainstream gaming, it does have its loyal fan base, and its not been completely fazed out within the industry.

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

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