Felix the Cat Rocket Knight Adventures Collection Felix the Cat
Image via Limited Run Games

Review: Felix the Cat

Cat's out of the bag.

With Limited Run Games being granted the rights to re-release some old Konami games that the publisher previously kept buried in the backyard, I would not have expected Felix the Cat to be one of the first to come out of the relationship.

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Felix the Cat isn’t technically a Konami game. Released in 1992, it was published by Hudson and allegedly developed by the elusive Shimada Kikaku, which would explain why there are no credits to be found anywhere. It’s loosely based on the 1989 movie, which was an extension of an absolutely atrocious 1958 cartoon series. Thankfully, the game isn’t bad.

Most importantly, this is a re-release of a licensed Konami game. A lot of old games based on film and TV licenses feel as though they are lost to be confined in their original format, so anytime one makes it to modern platforms, it’s a win. Even if it’s just an okay game, like Felix the Cat.

Felix the Cat general gameplay
Screenshot by Destructoid

Felix the Cat (PS4, PS5, Switch [Reviewed])
Developer: Shimada Kikaku, Limited Run Games
Publisher: Konami

Released: March 28, 2024
MSRP: $24.99

Limited Run Games’ release bring the 1992 original release alongside the unreleased Japanese Famicom version and the 1993 Game Boy port. It’s technically just three flavors of one game, which is probably why it’s not called the Felix the Cat “Collection” or anything similar.

What you get is an action platformer, and while it’s a pretty boilerplate platformer, it’s at least a solid one. You play as the titular golden age cartoon star, and you’re trying to rescue you girlfriend, Kitty from the clutches of Professor… Oh, that’s his entire name. It’s just “Professor.” There are short vignettes every couple of levels where the professor threatens Felix, but that’s about all you get in terms of storyline.

I say that Felix the Cat is pretty standard, but it’s not without its own ideas. The core mechanics beyond jumping onto floating platforms is multiple levels of power-ups. You collect floating Felix tokens from the environment, and every tenth collected will throw a power-up. On a walking stage, this changes out Felix’s punching glove attack for a wave of stars that explode from him. Ten more, and he gets a car. Ten more, and he gets a tank. It’s rather satisfying.

Each power level is on a timer that depletes as you use it. You can refill the gauge by either powering up to the next level or collecting milk that sprays out every fifth token you pick up. It has the benefit of both keeping you moving and gives meaning to collecting tokens beyond just getting a higher score, which I don’t think anyone cares about these days.

Felix the Cat Talking to the professor over the phone.
Screenshot by Destructoid

Every so often, the game switches itself up from simple platforming. You get the odd level where Felix is flying, ones where he’s traveling over water, and some in which he’s under it. Each one has its own set of power-ups to go along with it, but while they’re usually not as layered as the walking levels, it’s a nice change of pace.

More importantly, it gave the artist more chances to flex their muscle. Whoever they had handling the graphics for Felix the Cat outdid themselves (again, no credits). It’s not that it’s a game that pushes the graphical boundaries of the console, but the art and animations show a level of demonstrate a level of passion for the project. Small details like Felix falling asleep in an innertube kick the game’s personality an extra mile.

But, as I keep hammering on, the game itself is pretty standard. Combat is pretty straightforward, with you hitting enemies with whatever projectile you have at your disposal. You can take a lot of damage if you keep increasing your power-up level, which means that getting through the game is pretty easy. For that matter, bosses are rather disappointing as well, showing no interest in mechanical trickery or creative design. I wouldn’t say it’s boring, but it’s something you’ll probably complete quickly and move on from.

Felix the Cat Game Boy version
Screenshot by Destructoid

The Game Boy version is a (slightly) scaled-down port of the NES release. Some compromises were made for the smaller palette and screen size, but it plays pretty well. It would have been pretty cool to have on long car trips back in the ‘90s, but it’s overshadowed by the NES version being on the same cartridge.

As for the Famicom version, it’s sort of just here as a curiosity. As I mentioned, it was never actually released in Japan. But, on the other hand, it is, as far as I can tell, identical to the Western version, aside from the text. I guess they might as well include it, but it doesn’t really add value to the collection.

In terms of extra features, Limited Run Games’ Carbon Engine adds borders, CRT effects (or LCD on Game Boy), save states, rewind, and you can turn off sprite flicker. The sprite flicker and CRT options are perhaps less common in these sorts of re-releases, but they aren’t unheard of. Overall, it’s a decent presentation of a retro game.

If I have one complaint, you can’t rebind the controls. They also chose A and B to be, well, A and B. That may sound obvious, but on modern controllers, the tilt of those two buttons isn’t optimal. A better layout is binding B to A and Y to B, making it easier on your thumb to jump and shoot. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it is an annoying oversight. On the other hand, if you have NSO NES or Famicom controllers, it works as it would on a normal controller. But then you can’t bring up the program menu because that is bound to ZR instead of just R. They should have just let you bind the controls yourself.

Felix the Cat snoozing in an inner tube.
Screenshot by Destructoid

In terms of this release, I’m more excited to see a lesser-known Konami game get re-released than I am to actually play it. Let’s be fair here, I’ve happily played ports of less exciting games, but in terms of being able to recommend them to someone who isn’t already familiar with the game or someone who isn’t into retro games in general is a little more difficult. When I was a kid, Felix the Cat was one of my favorite games on the console, but I recognize it’s not going to be very exciting for newcomers.

But even if you are just curious and want to try it out, Felix the Cat is a decent game. It’s rather routine. It’s slightly above average. But it’s not a passionless title with no value. On top of that, it’s a quality port. So, even if you come in with only an appreciation for the NES, the character, or Shimada Kikaku (for some reason), then you won’t be disappointed. Limited Run Games didn’t recover a hidden gem, but it gave an old cat another life.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

7
Good
Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Author
Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.