OK, Gang, it's time for a history quiz. Who was Charles Lindbergh's mascot for his famous transatlantic solo flight in the Spirit of St. Louis? Here's a hint: he was also the first image broadcast over television from the RCA Laboratories, and later he became the familiar test pattern at the opening and closing of NBC's broadcast. Need one more hint? He's also the star of a new game out this month from Hudson Soft. Those of you who've cheated and looked at the title of this article already know the answer: Felix the Cat!
Since his first appearance in 1922, Felix the Cat and his magical bag of tricks have become one of the most lovable cartoons in the world. In Felix the Cat for the NES, Hudson Soft dips into Felix's bag and comes up with magic. This side-scrolling action game is superb!
In an attempt to rescue Felix's girlfriend, Kitty, from his longtime foe the Professor, you play Felix on a quest through nine areas with multiple rounds. Other familiar cartoon folks that'll set your feline fur on end are Poindexter, Rock Bottom, Master Cylinder and Gulpo, King of the Blobs. They appear in varying forms at the end of each round.
ProTip: Some birds are friendly, and they allow you to ride on their backs.
Cat Head Collection
Felix's only defense in this game is his magic bag. You begin the game with one Magic Item, a punching glove. To reach a higher level of magic, you've gotta collect the Felix heads that are scattered throughout the game. For every 10 Felix heads you collect, Kitty drops you a magic heart. If you catch the heart, you gain a new Magic Item.
You've gotta keep a watchful eye on the status of your Magic Item. It only lasts a limited time. To make it last longer, you can grab milk bottles that appear when you collect five Felix heads.
Shoot at the "F" circles repeatedly and they turn into 1-ups!
That Cat Can Accessorize
Felix makes you master a variety of skills. You use different Magic Items depending upon the round you're in. In some rounds, Felix pilots airships, including a hot air balloon and a biplane. In other areas, Felix gets his fur wet by steering a paddle boat and riding a dolphin. Then it's time to hold your breath as Felix tries his paw at scuba diving in the underwater rounds. There are so many places with unique Magic Items that the game never gets boring.
- To defeat the first Ross, Poindexter, stay close to him while you attack with your magic item and his basketballs will fly over you.
- Sometimes using the second best magic item works more effectively in close-up cat-fights.
Paper or Plastic?
Felix is full of special bonus rooms that contain a load of Felix heads and sometimes offer a shortcut to the end of the round. The rooms are found inside magic bags that are hidden throughout the game. When you're running low on magic hearts, the bonus rooms can be as fun as catnip! Be careful, though, you should always keep your eye on the time to make sure that Felix doesn't pass his limit by spending too much time looking for bonus rooms.
Look for bonus room magic bags above a springboard or buried in the brick.
A Feast for the Eyes
Felix the Cat sports some of the coolest graphics you've ever seen on an 8-bit system. Big characters and a cartoony style create the illusion that this is a playable cartoon. Detailed animation and special touches, like bubbles underwater, trees with eyes that follow you in the forest, and Poindexter's spinning basketball, all lend to Felix's all-you-can-eat visual buffet. Another fine touch is the animated end-of-area scenes that show Felix revealing his alley cat ancestry by wallowing in misery over his lost Kitty.
The controls for the game are easy to pick up. Maneuvering through the flying and the swimming stages is a little tricky, but nothing that a keen cat can't handle.
Defeat Gulpo on Round 4-3 of Felix World by staying behind the barrier and inching out to shoot.
A Kinder, Gentler Game
One important thing to note about the Felix game that is indicative of his comic book and animated cartoon incarnations is the virtual absence of violence. Even the sound never creates the tense or scary mood found in some action games. When you defeat a boss, it explodes but doesn't die. According to the manual, the foes in this game are not necessarily enemies. They're more like playfriends. Your weapons are called Magic Items. And, believe it or not, the game creators have managed to make even a cannon that shoots balls at you look cute and innocuous. Moreover, the manual comes packaged with an order form for "Master Higgins" 10 Tips for Responsible Gaming.
Felix the Cat is fun to play! Its landslide of levels and abundance of Magic Items will keep folks with even the shortest attention spans engaged. The Cat is back! That's purr-fect for NES gamers everywhere.