Felix The Cat
Here’s a game I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while.
Felix The Cat was, of course, an old cartoon series and I was a big fan of it as a kid. Which is why I was amazed to find that, not only were there games based on the cartoon, but they were really good!
I’ll be talking about the NES port of the game today and no, I won’t mention that godawful movie they made based on the cartoon because it doesn’t exist.
That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway…
The game is a typical platformer which sees you play as the titular cat who walks around Mario-like settings using his trusty magic bag to foil the Professor’s plans. Come to think of it, this is starting to sound a bit like Sonic The Hedgehog as well.
I guess if you’re going to be derivative, might as well follow the good stuff!
The game starts with the Professor calling Felix’s phone.
Either that or the Professor is saying “Riiing…!” to himself for no reason.
I also didn’t know that Felix actually lives right under his arch-nemesis’ lab. Ok, so it’s probably the game’s attempt at a split-screen phone call but I like my version better.
It’s like if The Joker had an apartment right above the Batcave: handy.
Felix finally answers:
The Professor’s plan involves the usual intrigue: he’s kidnapped Felix’s little girlfriend and if the cat doesn’t give up his magic bag then he’ll get a whole bunch of hamsters and trees to get rid of him.
Yes, hamsters and trees.
Come on, Felix, like you really need a giant boxing glove to knock out hamsters.
Chewing usually works fine for most cats…
As for the trees:
They’re tinier than Felix’s scratching pole!
Oh, and by the way, when I talk about “magic bags” and “scratching poles” I mean absolutely nothing dirty by that.
I’m speaking purely literally.
As you can probably tell from the screenshots so far, Felix has several different attacks. They change depending on how many pickups you grab along the way and how much health you have. First you get the boxing glove, then the magic wand (which is somehow crappier than the glove), then you get the little car:
The car’s pretty fun and gosh darn adorable to boot.
Sadly, it goes away if you get hit once or twice.
The level you can see in the screenshot above is one of the many bonus levels you find by entering various magic bags scattered around the game. There’s usually milk or hearts you can pick up there. They boost Felix’s magic power, which allows him to upgrade his weapons. You can also usually find little Felix heads which recover your health and give you extra lives.
Speaking of which, one of the weirdest things in the game is you can see the Professor’s head in the clouds sometimes and if you attack the cloud, there’s usually a 1-Up in there.
Took me forever to realise I could actually attack the clouds… especially the ones underwater!
Other upgrades Felix has during the game include tanks:
Hot-air cat-shaped balloons:
And, near the end, even spaceships:
Yup, this game travels alright.
Can’t accuse it of not mixing it up or not building up to anything.
My favourite Felix vehicle in the game, though, has to be the dolphin:
This is so disrespectful to Ecco’s people, you guys.
Look how sad that dolphin looks: it’s being humiliated by the happiest cat in the world!
It doesn’t help that Felix almost KILLS him soon after:
He’s a dolphin, not a pogo stick!
Dolphins need water, you greedy feline!
Wow, I’m starting to sound like the Professor…
Can totally relate to this guy.
The bosses you fight aren’t too difficult to get rid of but they’re at least more challenging than whatever vermin is walking around peacefully around every level, probably terrified of being trampled on by a maniacal cat riding a suicidal dolphin.
You fight the Professor’s nephew Poindexter:
You even fight a dustbin at some point!
I’m kidding, he’s a rocket-powered robot called Master Cylinder.
The controls are very fluid in this game and that certainly helps make it as enjoyable as it is to play. Unlike, say, McKids or Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout, here’s a game that gets it right and never forgets to keep things simple yet effective.
Felix, as ever, drives the Professor nuts by constantly messing up his plans and he calls you back to complain every so often:
I’m not sure what he means by that but I fear the worst.
It’s frankly weird that Felix is always able to answer the phone seeing as he’s crossing the world, even other worlds in this game! Then again that magic bag can do pretty much anything so he could just make a robot Felix to go and answer his messages for him.
Or better still, pull out a teleporter from the bag and beam back and forth.
Gotta love when the Professor gets REALLY mad:
lol At least slam the phone down!
That tiny “Click” really ruins the impact you were looking for with that threatening call.
So after visiting other planets and blowing up the Professor’s head with tank…
You finally face the man himself and…
He’s basically an early levels Dr Robotnik: not too hard to beat but takes quite a few key hits.
You get rid of him and finally Felix is reunited with his beloved:
You never really see him remove the ropes tying her up, though.
All’s well that ends well, however, and the happy cats can soon finally go home:
Overall, I do definitely recommend Felix The Cat on the NES: it’s a good-looking, creative, varied, well put-together little side-scroller which honours the spirit of the cartoons brilliantly and offers a simple yet engaging adventure that’s really genuinely fun from start to finish. Hudson Soft certainly nailed it this time.
You can find the game on the Game Boy as well but, be warned, it has fewer levels.
Oh, and someone really needs to save the dolphins…