#223 – Felix the Cat

Truly a fancy feast.
Top-hat Felix has swag for days.
Not even his bag of tricks can save him!



DEVELOPER: Hudson Soft

GENRE: Platformer

RELEASE DATE: October 1992

I never watched much of the “Felix the Cat” cartoon when I was a child. It was one of the few old cartoons that I couldn’t find in syndication on cable. Nevertheless, I was always intrigued by the concept: a cute, happy-go-lucky black cat with a bag full of tricks that could contain just about anything. I loved the idea of Felix, but thanks to my cousin who had lived in Taiwan and brought back boatloads of manga and anime, I saw more of “Doraemon,” which was arguably Japan’s take on Felix. Doraemon was a happy-go-lucky blue cat-esque creature that could pull just about anything out of his pocket. He had his own manga and anime series and probably a million Famicom games. He was awesome and funny and a friend you would want as a child. I’m not sure if Felix is as cool as Doraemon and, as far as I know, he just has this one game. Still, Felix the Cat is one of the best third-party platformers on the NES and that’s nothing to meow about.

Sometimes after a long day at work, you want to sit down with a game that won’t challenge you in any way, yet will still provide a fun experience. Felix the Cat is a perfect example. Much like the majority of Kirby games, Felix provides fun by way of transformation. As you go through the levels collecting little Felix heads (the equivalent of coins in a Mario game), occasionally power-ups pop out that will transform you into a stronger version of yourself. For example, in the first level you start out with just having a punching glove as a weapon, but once you upgrade, Felix can shoot stars all around his body. Upgrade again and he’s now in a car and the car’s honk is a weapon. Upgrade one last time and he’s in a tank shooting shells at the poor frightened enemies. This is one example, and there are several levels where you can transform into other incarnations of yourself. My personal favorite is the underwater level where Felix rides around in a submersible shaped like his head. The transformations are key to the game’s creativity and playability. Without them, Felix would be just another average platformer.

While I do thoroughly enjoy this game, a couple of flaws kept me from loving it more. For one, the level designs are nondescript. There are no real themes to many of the levels, other than your basic water, sky, land, space, etc. The backgrounds are bland, as well, which surprised me coming from Hudson Soft, the maker of the Adventure Island series. Also, as I mentioned previously, besides the transformations, there’s nothing to this game. The enemies are boring, the action is pretty generic, but just when I was on the cusp of losing interest completely, Felix would morph into something I hadn’t seen before and I’d enjoy the game all over again.

Hudson Soft certainly doesn’t craft the most interesting platformers (Nintendo), nor the most action-packed (Capcom/Konami), but they do employ some of the most unique mechanics out of any platformer developer on the NES. Felix the Cat is arguably their peak. Enjoy it. It goes down smooth.


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5 replies on “#223 – Felix the Cat”

I really like Felix as an example of how to produce a decent licensed platformer — doesn’t push the envelope on presentation, but has enough quirk and mechanical appeal to provide an enjoyable experience.

I love this game. Yes, it’s easy, but the transformations are absolutely wonderful. Really fun stuff, and personally, I think the game looks great for NES, and I believe it’s largely due to its art style. I distinctly remember attack animations, each transformation, etc. I do agree about the levels, though. They get bland after a while. For what they are, they’re definitely acceptable though. Great platformer, especially for children. I’m so glad you’re attempting to review every NES game. Keep on truckin’.

@nerrsty: I completely agree with you. The transformations are fantastic. There’s a real lightness to this game that even Nintendo doesn’t get right all the time.

And thanks! I intend to keep truckin’!

I really love this game – I remember this as one of the first NES games I got for my own for my birthday when it came out, and I think one of the first ones I ever beat/played the whole way through on my own. I’m 31 now, and still have my NES. I downsized and only kept a few of my favorite games, and this is one of them. Yes, it’s pretty easy and mindless, and the levels themselves aren’t that original (although I do enjoy all the little variations – the pyramid theme, the ice theme, the tropical theme, the prehistoric theme), but it hits a nice sweet point – easy enough to not be frustrating or require a lot of investment, and but still enough things to dodge and shoot at to keep you interested.

I always really liked the animation – some of the enemies are strange looking but distinctive, and I always remember having little nicknames as a kid for some of them. And Felix himself is downright adorable with his little facial expressions and in his various incarnations. The music is actually rather catchy too (or at least, it stays in my head!)

The reason this is all in my head is because my 3 year old is starting to take an interest in my old games and this one has become one of his favorites. He likes to make the ‘guys fall down’. And we discovered by accident that it can accept input from both controllers – so me or my husband can steer, and my son can shoot. We have fun. 🙂

I still think the telephone interludes are kind of odd – first of all, the whole idea that the professor just calls Felix on his phone, and I’m never quite sure why Felix is hanging out back at his house in between levels 😉

That’s so cool that your son is into the old games! You’re right, Felix has a very agreeable difficulty – it’s hard enough, but not too hard that you can’t breeze through it. Reminds me of Kirby in that regard.

Thanks for commenting, Lisamarie!

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