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Pix the Cat / 19th of February 2015

Pix the Cat is a classic arcade styled game that has been given a digital overhaul for the modern gamer, and having already seen huge success on both the Playstation Network and Vita, the French videogame developer, Pastagames, have now brought their IP to Steam hoping to replicate their newly found success. Pastagames’ main development experience has been primarily focused on mobile and games with the likes of Rayman Jungle Run, Pix’n Love Rush, and Maestro Jump In Music which was on Nintendo’s DS. Breaking into the arcade market on PSN and Steam is a big progression for the studio, and with a game like Pix the Cat as their flagship, Pastagames will surely have future releases for our next gen consoles. So why is it that Pix the Cat is being so widely received? Well simply put, it plays like a mix between PacMan, Snake, and Chu Chu Rocket so it can’t really go wrong….or can it?

In Arcade Mode, Pix the Cat has you racing against the clock in a classic grid style whilst picking up magical eggs that hatch into ducklings who then mimic your every movement until they are delivered to specific spots around the map. When all the ducklings have been dropped off, a portal to the next stage opens up and the game becomes a case of how deep can you go before the time runs out. Transitioning between stages is incredibly fluid, and has a nice graphical element to it as at all times one can see the next stage that lays in wait which can occasionally offer the player a variety of entrance and strategy options. At times you may feel like Dominic Cobb from Inception being in a level within a level within a level and having to go up and down between these levels to move between locations in order to drop off ducklings and progress through the game.

If your head isn’t already spinning from that then why not add in the ever increasing pace of Pix. As you progress through the level and start to get a better handle on the game mechanics, healthier scores can be achieved, which will obviously lead to improved leader board positions, and perhaps more importantly, also results in increased movement speeds. The more efficient your movement is the more points and ‘Perfects’ you are awarded, eventually leading to ‘Combo Up’s’, increasing Pix’s speed until eventually you hit ‘Fever Time’ which sends you on a colourful, LSD induced graphical trip, which helps to enhance the frantic tension and chaotic world that Pix the Cat embodies. Couple this madness with cool graphics and catchy music that help reflect the quality of your run through with ‘Combo Up’s’ and ‘Fever Time’ which affect the current colour scheme, sound effects, and music playing, then you’ve got one addictive game.

If by some miracle you hunker down and blast through all 3 grids and the 500+ levels in Arcade Mode, then why not take a stab at the other game modes on offer. One such game type is The Laboratory, which gives players one hundred scientifically themed levels to leap through with new game parameters, contrastingly with The Grid, this tasks players with collecting bubbles, whilst Pix moves unremittingly, stopping only after colliding with an obstacle. Players are judged on the number of moves it takes to complete each puzzle, naturally these get progressively harder and will actually entail the use of your brain matter to be overcome.

My favourite mode though has to be the unlockable Nostalgia Mode and the 70 levels it comes with. This mode is a lot more like Snake than any other game mode on offer but with a few tweaks and surprises. The main objective is the same, collect ducklings to win. This time round there is no time limit just a certain amount of ducklings that need to be collected before progressing and much like Snake, make sure not to run into your tail, an object, an enemy or the environment or its back to square one. The art and style of this mode is what makes it for me, it’s quite reminiscent of some early Disney projects, ala Steamboat Willie, with beautifully rendered black and white cartoon characters and old fashioned music. It’s a superb combination of aesthetics and game mechanics that lures players back to the 1920’s/30’s, successfully drawing them in and encouraging repeat play.

With so much on offer it’s almost surprising that Pastagames also took the time to create local multiplayer in the form of The Arena Mode. By connecting additional controllers or using the same keyboard up to 4 players can go head to head as a Pixbot, the aim being to kill the other players by collecting eggs (ammo) to use as missiles, bombs, mines and stun attacks. Doing this however turns the recently murdered Pixbot into a ghost that can chase after mortal players, attempting to steal their life force and get back into the game, quite the twist on revenge if you ask me. It’s manic, good fun, and a nice addition to a game that already has a fairly solid single player experience.

Pix the Cat is a modern day arcade classic, it’s fun, addictive, and incredibly easy to pick up, yet brutally difficult to put down. However, this isn’t always the case, as I do find myself getting to the same stage no matter how many times I try or how much I remember, which leads me to some sort of delusion where I convince myself that “next time I’ll get there”. The game has unique challenges and presents them well, it offers hours of gaming that can be entertaining, diverse, and engrossing, and just for overkill there is even DLC for those that like destroying their fingers by smashing them into the keyboard on a regular basis. Then again, it’s not called the Grid of Infinity to be ironic, the game literally never ends! Pix the Cat is clever, highly addictive and full of content, with superb graphics, a fitting soundtrack and sound effects that match the current theme. In short, I can honestly see Pix the Cat becoming a game that will be in everyone’s arcade collection for years to come.

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