Felix the Cat (NES) review
"Not every stage is restricted to platform hopping. In one, for example, you fly over a desert in a hot air balloon, tossing frisbees at grounded foes. There are also places where you swim, or where you skim along the surface of the water on a dolphin's back. No one type of level is really overdone, so there's a good sense of variety."
The pages of Nintendo Power had stunning effect on me when I was a child, and probably would have led to the purchase of many a game if not for my limited budget. Years have passed since I used to lie on the edge of my bed, reading each page of the latest issue for the hundredth time, salivating over each screenshot and imagining I was actually playing the game. When I buy those games now, I am often disappointed by the reality and its failure to compare to the hype my mind created. In the case of Felix the Cat, though, that was only partly the case.
I think back in the 50's, Felix the Cat was a major cartoon series along with the likes of Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker. Honestly, I don't see how some of those things entertained my parents, but more than that I don't see why game companies think bringing back such an obscure cartoon license is a good idea. And of course, Felix the Cat is fairly obscure. I only saw a few of the cartoons and read a few comics, but I guess his regular bag was, well, a bag. That is, a bag of magic tricks. In keeping with the cartoon, the game Felix the Cat goes with the magic bag idea. Felix must rescue his girlfriend kitty from the evil Professor or something (again my lack of knowledge about the cartoon is showing).
The thing about Felix the Cat that interested me when I saw its coverage in Nintendo Power was its graphics. Graphics no longer are a reason to play an NES game, but I still have the occasional desire to go back and play an old game I never could in the past. Surprisingly, Felix the Cat has a graphical style that holds up fairly well. Hudson developed, so it looks closest to the second or third Adventure Island game. Grass looks nice, ledges look nice, water looks nice, Felix animates well, and so forth. Nothing to stun a modern gamer, but everything goes well.
Behind those graphics lies an entertaining game, too. I wouldn't call it terribly innovative, though, even for the time. You run and jump through stages, avoiding enemies while you build up some armor. This armor really isn't armor at all, but vehicles you can gain by popping into magical bags that hang in the air in places you'll find difficult to reach. Duck into a bag, grab some coins and a vehicle, then continue through the level. The main attraction of a vehicle, besides the fact that it can allow you to take one hit without meaning a life lost, is the projectile with which it is equipped. There are several types, too, which basically amount to land, water, and aircraft. You can get two upgrades in any of those categories, and a hit will drop you down to the one before.
Most of the time, you won't be in any immediate danger of taking said hit. Level designs are such that you generally have a good idea of just what is around you on all sides for a good distance. There are some exceptions, most noteably in later areas (as one would expect), but the level design is so easy that when I brought it home to play the game for a few spare minutes, I played it through to its conclusion without a final game over (there are a limited number of continues). That's not a complaint, really, just an observation. Don't expect this title to tax your elite gaming skills.
Perhaps the game's biggest strength of all is the way the unique level designs allow you several types of experiences. Not every stage is restricted to platform hopping. In one, for example, you fly over a desert in a hot air balloon, tossing frisbees at grounded foes. There are also places where you swim, or where you skim along the surface of the water on a dolphin's back. No one type of level is really overdone, so there's a good sense of variety.
Boss battles are also quite enjoyable. If you die during one, you reappear right outside the magic bag that leads to the encounter. Go inside and try again. Each boss is somewhat unique but, in keeping with the game's overall design, none but the very last one should give you much trouble (even the last one isn't nearly so difficult as the actual stage you must traverse to reach him). Once you beat a boss, you're of course between worlds, where Felix will get a taunting call from the game's boss.
Old-school gaming was fun. There were several types of main games, and mascot-based games actually had a fairly good chance of being worthwhile. Felix the Cat falls into that category. Not worth an exhaustive search now, but a good one to have in your collection just the same.
Staff review by Jason Venter (Date unavailable)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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