Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!

#105 – Felix the Cat

Felix the Cat, the wonderful, wonderful game.

A lot of folks have their eye on ol’ Felix.

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 10/28/18
Difficulty: 2/10
My Difficulty: 2/10
My Video: Felix the Cat Longplay

I’m starting to get a little worried that I’m running out of easy NES games to play.  Felix the Cat is another example of a solid platformer game that can be beaten with no prior knowledge in an hour or two.  Perhaps I never realized the NES has a bunch of easy platformers.  I have already beaten such games as DuckTales, DuckTales 2, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Puss ‘n Boots, and Wacky Races, all within the first 20% of this project.  Let’s see how Felix the Cat stacks up against those titles.

Felix the Cat is a cartoon character created in the late 1910’s.  Felix was either created by the cartoonist Pat Sullivan or his lead animator Otto Messmer.  His first appearance was in the short animated film Feline Follies in 1919 before he was even named Felix.  The cartoon cat’s popularity waned in the late 1920s in part due to making a late and poor pivot to movies with sound.  The Felix the Cat comic strips lasted in various forms from 1927 through 1966.  He also had a TV series from 1959 to 1962 produced by Joe Oriolo, who would go on to obtain the full rights to Felix the Cat in the 1970’s.  There have been a scattering of films and cartoon shorts related to Felix the Cat throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Felix the Cat managed to get a single video game.  Felix the Cat was released on the NES in North America in October 1992 and a PAL release also in 1992.  A Famicom release in Japan appeared to have been planned but was cancelled.  A Game Boy port was released in North America and Europe in 1993.  It features the same game play but with fewer levels.  Hudson Soft developed and published the NES game.  The Game Boy version was developed by Hudson Soft as well but was published by Electro Brain in North America and Sony Electronic Publishing in Europe.

He’s a mischievous cat.

Felix the Cat is a straightforward platformer game.  The story is just another version of the typical trope.  The evil Professor has captured Kitty Cat and wants Felix’s Magic Bag of Tricks.  Felix of course uses the powers available from the Magic Bag to go and rescue his girlfriend.  The game takes place over nine areas, including multiple rounds per area.  You win the game when you clear all nine areas and save Kitty Cat.

The controls are what you expect from a platformer game.  Use the D-pad to walk around.  The A button jumps, and the B button attacks.  You can press Down to crouch for dodging, but it doesn’t make your attacks any lower.  The manual says you can hold Up and jump with A to jump higher, but it doesn’t work.  You don’t really need a higher jump anyway.

The primary gimmick to this game is that Felix has many different weapons he can produce out of his Magic Bag.  Felix can only use one of these at a time.  The default weapon is a punching bag which is a short-range attack.  By collecting hearts and powering up, Felix undergoes a short transformation and either changes his outfit or his gear, enabling him to switch up attacks.  One upgrade gives Felix a top hat and he can radiate a circle of stars that damages nearby enemies.  Other transformations give Felix a vehicle to ride in and some projectile attacks.  The effects of powering up depend on which level you are in.

The locals are angry and you must fight back!

As you go through the levels, you will find tokens shaped like Felix’s face.  For every ten of these you collect, a heart appears that you grab to power up.  When you do this, the game displays a series of ten small hearts in the upper left corner of the screen.  This acts as your timer for the powerup as they slowly dwindle away as you play.  For every five Felix tokens you collect, you will create a few milk bottle powerups.  Each of them restores two hearts to your meter.  Collecting a heart also fills up your meter.  As long as you keep a steady pace through the stages and keep collecting tokens and powerups, it is not too difficult to remain powered up.

Felix does happen to be pretty fragile.  One hit from an enemy or falling into a pit loses a life.  This puts you back to the default state.  Levels have checkpoints at arrow signposts and you go back there when you die.  Powerups are great in that they also act as a shield when taking damage from one of the bad guys.  When you are powered up and take a hit, you simply drop back a level.  Many stages provide Felix with three distinct levels of powerups which gives you some leeway if you make a mistake.  I found that I played slowly and conservatively at the start, and then got progressively more aggressive and quicker once I knew I could take damage and still be alright.

Each of the nine areas in the game can have multiple rounds.  Levels are straightforward left-to-right affairs with some verticality to them as well.  The last round in the area ends with a large magic bag.  Stand on top of the bag and press Down to enter the bag and go to the boss fight.  The bosses in this game are simple and take just a few hits to beat.  You then earn a nice point bonus and move on to the next area.  Sometimes you are treated to a small cutscene where you take a phone call from the evil Professor before pressing onward.

You can descend into the magic bag to get prizes.

You can also find the large magic bags within individual levels.  Some are on the main path and others are found high up off screen that you can reach through platforming or bouncing on large springs.  Enter these bags to go to a bonus room.  These rooms consist of several Felix tokens and contain an exit magic bag.  Leaving the bonus area can sometimes drop you off further ahead in the level.

There are other types of stages than just platforming levels.  There are swimming levels, flying levels, and even a space level.  There are different transformations you get to support these other stage types.  For example, you can fly in an airplane or man a hot air balloon.  In these levels you have to keep pressing A to stay afloat or to swim around.  Variety never hurts in a game like this.

Extra lives are very easy to come by in this game, even though there are no extra life pickups to be found.  For every 100 tokens you collect, you earn a new life.  Collecting a heart while fully powered up gives you an additional Felix, and you also get a life for every 50,000 points.  If you can get through the first area or so without taking any damage, you are well on your way to stocking up for the rest of the game.  Should you run out of lives, you can continue up to three times.  Continuing places you at the start of the current round, which is a slightly worse position than a normal death.

Cats aren’t afraid of water if they have a submarine.

I have played and beaten Felix the Cat once before as part of the Nintendo Age weekly NES contests a few years ago.  It was a one-life contest and I got near the end on my first life over just a few tries.  I went ahead and beat the rest of the game then just to see what was left.  This is a later release that is uncommon.  I have owned a few copies of the game cart.  Two I bought at local game stores.  One cost $12 and the other cost $10.  They were selling for $30-$40 at the time so it was a no-brainer to pick them both up.  I acquired a third copy as part of a mega haul of games I found on eBay late in 2014.  A loose cart of Felix the Cat now costs upwards of $60.

I didn’t have any trouble beating Felix the Cat again.  This is an easy game to beat for the very first time playing if you are any good at platformers.  There are quite a lot of areas and the levels themselves seem to go on and on at times.  It feels that you are making progress for most of the game, with a few sections that seem like they will never end.  Some parts of the game do take some careful play to clear effectively, but by then you probably have a huge stash of lives to burn so it’s no big deal.  I think the game takes about an hour to beat if played blind, maybe longer that that if some of the later sections cause some problems.  My longplay video took a little over 45 minutes with a little over half a dozen deaths.

Felix the Cat is a good NES game but isn’t anything special.  The game plays and performs very well.  The graphics are cute and nicely animated.  Felix has a lot of expressions in all his movements and attacks.  The controls are spot-on and handle properly through all the movement variety the game has to offer.  The gameplay is solid but nothing more.  Don’t get me wrong, the game is good, it’s just that it feels so ordinary.  This is the kind of game that you can shut your brain off and mindlessly play.  You’ll have a good time doing it for the first or second time, and then there’s not much reason to go back to it.  I bet some players get bored of it and quit partway through.  From my perspective, it’s hard to have a problem with a game that plays great and is just a bit bland in gameplay. 

#105 – Felix the Cat

Posted In: Finished

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