Pix the Cat (Vita)

8.5 Overall Score
Content: 9/10
Fun Factor: 8/10
Art Style: 9/10

Great throwback arcade vibe | Tons of content | Clever puzzle solutions

Can get very challenging | Slight control delays once in a while | Missing multiplayer mode

Game Info

GAME NAME: Pix the Cat

DEVELOPER(S): Pasta Games

PUBLISHER(S): Pasta Games

PLATFORM(S): Vita, PS4

GENRE(S): Arcade/Puzzle

RELEASE DATE(S): October 7, 2014

Puzzle games and handhelds seem to go together very well.  The enormous success seen by portable versions of Tetris, Picross, & the Professor Layton series proves that there’s something to the quick pick up and play nature of these games.  Waiting in line at the DMV?  Knock out a couple quick levels and don’t worry about a longer commitment.  This is why they attract a wider audience of gamer, and it’s also why some more “hardcore” gamers will right them off as too easy or boring.  But new arcade puzzler Pix the Cat for the PlayStation Vita is anything but easy or boring.

PixTheCat_screenshot_005

Pix the Cat has three distinct game modes for players on the Vita. You have your arcade style score attack mode, your individual puzzle solving Lab, and a combination of the two in Nostalgia mode.  The latter two modes need to be unlocked by scoring high enough in the Arcade mode.  Arcade mode at first glance seems to resemble the Pac-Man Championship Edition DX release from a few years ago, but with eggs replacing sleeping ghosts.  As you navigate through the maze-like boards, you’re tasked with collecting eggs, which then turn into a trail of ducks/chickens/bird-things that follow behind you.  Your job is then to place these ducks/chickens/bird-things into one of the placement circles strewn about the level.  You get more points & a perfect designation if you collect all the eggs before you place any.  Some of the layouts get tricky to navigate, especially once you’ve acquired a giant trail of birds, which forces you to bring your old Snake game skills back from the nether regions of your brain.  As you place your last duck/chicken/bird-thing in its home, a portal to the next stage is opened, except this next stage is actually contained in miniature version inside the level you just finished, Russian nesting doll style.  It’s a great way to give you a preview of what’s coming up next so you can plan ahead in order to save precious traveling seconds.  It also allows you to make creative use of the portals in order to maintain perfects by going in and out of levels.

A lot of the level design is very well done, but when you get moving faster, it can be harder and harder to make the precise turns needed to avoid enemies or your own tail.  As your time limit starts ticking down, you really feel the pressure to keep those combos going and it’s pretty satisfying to lock in that high score.  Achieving a score good enough to unlock the other game modes is quite the challenge, but the Arcade mode is done well enough, with just enough randomness thrown in by the slight rearranging of egg placements, that it’s fun to come back and try again.  The look and feel of Arcade is straight up 80s, uh, arcade vibe.  But updated for all you modern kids.  Lots of pulsating electronic music, bright neon colors, and weird voices announcing your progress.  It’s all very well done and suits the game perfectly.  I especially liked how the colors pop on the Vita screen.  Controls are also pretty tight, as they need to be to make all these quick, tight turns, but sometimes there seemed to be a slight delay between when I pressed the control pad down to when Pix actually turned.  Again, this didn’t happen all the time, but I did notice it for than a few occasions.

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The first of the other modes you can unlock is Lab mode.  These levels are similar in that you need to collect bubbles to place in bubble receptacles to finish the level.  The main differences though are pretty big.  First off, you have to collect all the bubbles before you can place any.  Second, you can’t move wherever you want and only stop if something gets in your way.  This forces you to think ahead and plan your moves perfectly to get into position to avoid your tail, receptacles, and the enemies that are added later.  There are 100 of these levels, so they will keep you busy for quite some time.  Every 10 levels, a new mechanic is thrown in that will give you a brand new headache.  The solutions to these levels, especially those needed to complete them within a certain number of moves to achieve bonus status, are really quite clever and will have you thinking long and hard.  They can get frustrating on occasion like any puzzle game, but they are quite fun and perfect for pick up and play quick sessions.  Music and graphics here are pretty similar to the Arcade mode, so if you liked what you saw and heard there (I did), then you’ll enjoy it just as much in the Lab.

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The final unlockable option is Nostalgia mode.  Here, your world is transformed into an old-school Mickey Mouse motif, complete with grainy black and white graphics and ragtime piano soundtrack.  The make up of these levels is kind of a combination of Arcade mode and Lab mode.  You still have to collect eggs, but you don’t really have to place them anywhere.  Sometimes the eggs are all laid out for you ready to collect amongst spikes and various other enemies, and sometimes they get randomly thrown about the level as you work to get enough without running into the aforementioned spikes and various enemies.  To add to the pressure is a short timer to complete the level in to achieve bonus status.  These levels are also quite fun and quick, but also quite hard as well.  A little more twitchy action skill is needed than Lab mode, but you still need to have a good plan of attack to tackle these.  This area contains 70 levels so you’ll again not be wanting for content.  I really dug the vibe of these levels and felt they were different enough to justify the new mode.

THE RECOMMENDATION

Pix the Cat won’t be for everybody.  If you can’t get a hang of the basic gameplay skills needed to score high enough in Arcade, it could wind up in your one-and-done pile of games.  But if you stick with it to learn the levels and the strategies they require, you’re in for a treat.  Add in the Lab and Nostalgia modes and your brain will be busy for quite some time.  It’s a shame the multiplayer mode found in the PS4 version couldn’t make its way to Vita, but that’s not enough for me to not recommend this game to people looking for a fun, competitive, and challenging arcade puzzle game.

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Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Pix the Cat (Vita)
Author Rating
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Author: Shaun Zimmerman View all posts by
Still waiting for the Commodore 128... Find me on Twitter @Zimm108