Pix is a cat, a very hungry cat. He’s hungry for ducks, and he has come up with a devious method of capturing them. By walking past eggs, he breaks them open and the hatched ducklings latch on to him as their new mother. Then he can lead them to a series of cunningly prepared individual traps. Once he has done this he can ascend or descend to another level of the infinite maze that forms his universe, and start again.
Okay, that description is nonsense. In the tradition of all the best arcade games, Pix the Cat has no discernible plot worth talking about. It makes no apparent sense at all. What it does have however, is addictive arcade action in spades. Make no mistake, this is a great game that is perfect on Vita.
The aim of the game is to; march over the eggs, causing them to hatch and a stream of ducks to follow you, and then lead these to the “holes”. It’s best described as a combination of Snake and Pac Man, and makes much more sense when seeing it in action.
Visually, the graphics are simple, clear, bright and full of that neon quasi-retro arcade feel that the likes of Geometry Wars etc. have. Each screen shows a maze of sorts, with eggs and the “holes” for the ducks to fall into. These and your main character are clear, and clearly marked.
Changing levels introduces one of Pix’s most interesting dynamics, although the fundamentals are mainly visual, at the start at least. Pix inhabits an “infinite maze”. When a level is finished an exit opens up in the maze he is currently in, and Pix can jump up or down to the next level, achieved using a dramatic visual effect. As you play through the game, this becomes more than just a visual aid but an actual mechanic of the game. Pix will jump in and of exits in order to collect the maximum amount of eggs, and maintain combos.
The game is full of content and great value for money. In addition to the arcade mode, which includes a number of layouts of various mazes, there is a “laboratory” mode which is more puzzle based. In this mode there is no timer, but instead Pix will not stop until he hits a wall. There is also a “Nostalgia” mode, which plays very similar to the original but with a “dated” theme, like classic black and white animation from the 1930s!
All of the new modes, voices, sounds etc. are unlockable from the game, which handily presents a list of “challenges” which must be met to unlock items, such as achieve a certain score, get the requisite number of boosts etc. There is an option to unlock a “ghost” mode, so you can see where you are able to improve.
Pix is an extremely playable game. There is no need for any controls aside from the direction your cat is going. For accuracy and to ensure you have the best chance of getting the fastest times, it seems to work better with the directional pad rather than the analog sticks. The controls seem responsive as you would expect in a game of this type, and once you have learned the basics you can fairly quickly feel like a master as you change direction at will, dodging obstacles and taking the optimum route.
However, there is one significant drawback to this game, and that is loading times. This seems to be an increasing problem on Vita, but becomes particularly acute in a game such as this. When playing some of the more, shall we say, “substantial” games available to the device, your Borderland 2’s for example, a little bit of a delay in loading is bearable, and perhaps understandable. However, for a “pick-up and play” game which this most certainly is, the loading times are appalling. I have been quite keen with this game, when I have a spare five minutes, to quickly fire it up and play a game, but the loading times have rendered that impossible. You have to wait an inordinate amount of time both to load the game, and then to actually fire up a level from the menu.
I’m not sure what seems to be causing the problems the device is suffering with loading time, but it is getting close to unacceptable now. This will have some impact on the longevity of this game I feel, once you have got past the initial learning curve it would be great as a game to have on your device to fire up occasionally. For example, TxK is such a game on my memory card, that I no longer push long sessions with but fire up when I just want some mindless arcade fun.
I can’t hesitate to recommend this game. It’s insanely playable, it looks and sounds great, and it really has that “one more go” factor. I just hope that the developers can fix the loading time problem in a future patch.
At A Glance
- Title: Pix The Cat
- Publisher: PastaGames
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes
- Memory Card Space Needed: 187Mb