“How did it ever get made?” That is often said of crappy stuff. But this is actually not a bad game but I still must ask, “How did it ever get made?” Felix the Cat was a cartoon and comic book character whose most popular incarnation was probably the 1950s cartoon that this game seems based on. This version uses a magic bag that can change into anything. When Albert-Einstein-caricature, The Professor, and his blundering assistant, Rock Bottom, find out about the bag, they decide they want it.
The reason I am surprised this game ever got made was because the series of shorts that it is based on wasn’t that big a hit. I watched a lot of classic cartoons in my childhood but never did come across this one on TV. I did rent a VHS tape with many episodes upon seeing the game in Nintendo Power Magazine, but that is the limit of my childhood memory of the character. So buyers were likely confined to a modest number of parents who still remembered this show vividly. Of those, probably only those who wanted a game they might play with the kid who received it on Christmas actually bought it. Even many of these parents walked away from it because by 1992, the jury was in that licensed games often suck. Probably the reason this game was made is because the animated movie about the character was a recent release. Except that this film did poorly. So I don’t figure that Felix the Cat did so well, either.
With that said, this would not be one of the bad licensed games. It’s not great either. While not the most original of games (see the Gameplay category), it is an OK experience.
Plot: 5 out of 10
Felix’ girlfriend, Kitty, has been kidnapped by The Professor. Another game with this old idea. Another problem is the use of The Professor’s nephew, Poindexter. He wasn’t actually evil and, in fact, was friends with Felix in other media. Yet he’s a boss in this game. One redeeming factor is the sheer number of characters that are used. Felix, Kitty, The Professor, Rock Bottom, Poindexter, Master Cylinder, and King Blob all make an appearance.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
Everybody looks just like they do in the comics and cartoons. The NES’ capabilities are stretched to make them look authentic. Regular enemies are mostly original creations that look pretty good, too. Backgrounds are likewise done really well for the era.
Sound: 5 out of 10
Plenty of songs, but all just so-so. It’s rather difficult to remember them very well. They just aren’t significant in any way.
Gameplay: 7 out of 10
Felix’ magic bag is utilized with a power-up system. Floating orbs with Felix’ face in them count towards a heart jumping up and then coming down. Hearts are power ups that allow Felix to sustain additional hits and gain special attacks. Why does this seem so familiar?
Despite that, this game can be fun. Each level has one of five different environments: land (the most frequent one), air, underwater, on water, and space. Except for the one space level, each environment has at least two forms. As Felix catches falling hearts he gets more powerful weapons or vehicles. Each hit you take devalues his form by one until he is killed in the default form. Attacks also become more advanced in higher forms. On land, for instance, he starts by using a spring-loaded boxing glove in the bag, but in the fourth and final form he drives a tank.
Controls are very responsive. And they’ve got to be since this game requires a lot of jumping. Just remember that unlike the Mario games, you have to use your weapon to attack. Jumping on enemies doesn’t kill them.
Challenge: 5 out of 10
Not being the kind of guy who can do zero-hit speed runs for many games, like some of the folks on Youtube, there were only a few games I ever beat on a three-day rental (yes, that’s how it was before Gamefly). This is one of them that I did finish in three days. That should clue you in on how hard Felix the Cat is. Plus, every heart you get in the most advanced form is a 1-Up, meaning that you’ll likely have a surplus of lives. But the thrill is there because of the fun level designs and boss battles. Just don’t count on taking weeks to beat this one. Not even the final battle with The Professor is all that tough.
There is only one level that I recall ever having a difficult time with: the space level, and that’s really only because having only one form means only one hit before you’re dead. The fact that this is what it takes to challenge the gamer says a lot!
Overall: 6 out of 10
Actually, I can’t help but wonder if this game was meant to be rented, not bought. Not only is Felix the Cat very easy, It rips off Mario every chance it gets. It is well worth a rental. Well worth a purchase? Not so much.