Sunday, 11 October 2020

Felix the Cat (NES review)

Developer: Shimada Kikaku
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Released: 1992

Felix the Cat is an action-platformer that's based on the cartoon series of the same name.

There's nine worlds and your mission as Felix is to rescue Kitty Cat from the evil Professor. A short-range punching glove is the default weapon, but collecting Felix head icons allows you to temporarily power-up. What pushes the gameplay forward in interesting ways is that this large array of power-ups can vary depending on the type of stage you're currently playing, and they include a Tank that shoots bouncing balls, and a Cape that creates a field of stars around Felix, damaging enemies in the process. Their inclusion cleverly dictates how you approach each area due to their varying range of attack, and it's fun seeing what might lie ahead if you manage to upgrade. Another great feature is how you gain the reward of an extra life if you collect a head icon while fully powered-up. The level design incorporates various styles to engage the player and includes typical platforming stages, alongside areas where you need to float using an umbrella, or ride a dolphin across the sea. These water stages are a real highlight and it's impressive how you can feel the crash of the waves and the resistance from the current as it tries to pull you back. At times though, the level design feels lazy, especially when some later stages outstay their welcome with repetitive layouts that seem copy and pasted in quick succession. Another issue is the lack of difficulty, as each world poses barely any challenge and the bosses are a pushover with very basic attack patterns. Collecting a large array of lives is a cakewalk too and moderately-skilled gamers are unlikely to lose any on more than a small handful of occasions.

Felix the Cat has some interesting ideas in both its level design and power-up system that make it an enjoyable game for average-skilled players and children. Its almost non-existent difficulty is a glaring issue though for veteran gamers, and before long you'll have seen everything it has to offer and still have plenty of extra lives in tow.


Random trivia: The game was ported to the Nintendo Game Boy in 1993.

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