A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pix the Cat is a downloadable arcade game that's a throwback to the types of games they likely grew up playing or heard about in gaming's early days. It’s like Snake meets Pac-Man: You play as the titular kitty in a variety of modes where the goal is to scoop up each level's eggs and deposit them in a single-serving nest. You’ll have to navigate your own lengthy, eggy tail so you don't end up crashing into yourself. It doesn't sound like there's a lot going on here, but there's an impressive amount of depth and scope without any violence, save the occasional cartoonish collision with a wall, an obstacle, or your egg tail.
What's it about?
In PIX THE CAT, quite simply, you steer a cat around Pac-Man-style mazes that lead directly from one to another. Unlike other arcade-style games, there's no chance to catch your breath between stages: As soon as you place a stage's last egg into a nest, a portal appears leading to the next. There are a few modes that tweak different parts of the core mechanics (demanding fewer moves from you or enforcing tighter time limits), but this is all that's going on -- which, despite how it might sound, is actually quite a lot.
Is it any good?
Pix the Cat is a very focused arcade game which will be very polarizing for players depending on where they are with their gaming tastes. Think of Tetris or Pac-Man: If you don't like that one mechanic being worked over meticulously, you won’t find much reason to stick around. But what Pix the Cat does, it does very well. The game's four modes will absolutely put you to the test, and the modes that allow for co-op or racing against your best-score ghost will challenge you to repeatedly best your approach as you get to know the different succession of maps better and better.
It's also very, very hard. There are no cheat codes or power-ups: You can only do better by getting more skilled the old-fashioned way. That means a lot of failing, a lot of overcoming your own stubbornness and realizing there's a "right" way to play the game by its own rules. You won't get far by dumping the eggs as soon as you get them; you have to try to pick them up while avoiding the nests. Pix the Cat proves that classic arcade mechanics and challenges still work very well no matter what decade or generation of hardware they're on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about problem-solving on the fly: How can you improve your resourcefulness when problems appear to only be solved one specific way?
This is an arcade throwback, which means it's fairly basic and old-school compared to today's newer games. What's the appeal in the age of HD graphics and consoles?
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