Games of 2014: Pix The Cat

PastaGames’ blistering arcade game doesn’t quite have the longevity of, say, Pac-Man Championship Edition. There’s a point at which your skills will plateau, and when you’re up against an unyielding timer (with no way to top up the clock) you’ll end up with only tiny variations in your best scores.

Until then, however, you might well become obsessed. In truth, it’s the very design limitations that curb its lasting appeal that make Pix The Cat so giddily exhilarating in the first instance. It demands absolute focus at all times, forcing you to find the perfect racing line through its infinite spiral of mazes.

After those first few head-spinning attempts, you’re no longer simply trying to pick up all the ducks before dropping them off in their nests for the maximum bonus. At the same time you’ll be mentally working out the optimal route while attempting to give yourself split-seconds longer in the maze by getting as many tiny speed boosts as possible from turning at just the right time. For a while, it’s basically a puzzle game conducted at a breathless clip; thereafter it’s all about refining your technique and relying on your twitch reflexes. Either way, whenever you accelerate all the way up to Fever Mode, your heart will begin to race as you attempt to control a character hurtling out of it.

Even when you’re struggling to beat your Arcade mode scores, you can always shift your attention to the puzzle-focused Laboratory levels, and the gorgeous Nostalgia mode, with its Thirties-era cartoon looks and elaborate stage designs. Pix The Cat looks, sounds and plays beautifully, and if it’s a short-term fling rather than a long-lasting relationship, then it’s still an affair to remember.

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