Pac-Python: Pix The Cat
Cat's out of the bag, and onto Steam
Pix the Cat [official site] is a score attack arcade game that mashes Pac-Man and Snake together. Pix runs through mazes, boosting by selecting a direction before he hits a junction as in Pac-Man DX Edition, and collects eggs. The eggs hatch and a trail of ducklings follows Pix - the longer the trail, the greater the risk of colliding with it, and the greater the speed at which Pix moves.
Oh, but Pix the Cat is also a puzzle game in which every egg must be collected before Pix hits the drop-off point. In this mode it's about calculating the outcome of every move, across tightly designed levels. There's also a multiplayer mode with missile-launching catbots.
I've played Pix briefly and was delighted to find that even a dunderheaded puzzlephobe like me can find something to enjoy in the main mode, and the multplayer, which is rather brilliant. In fact, the whole game might well be rather brilliant - I have neither the time or patience to delve into the Nostalgia and Laboratory modes, which are more puzzle than arcade and start to hurt my brain rather quickly, but the main arcade mode and the local multiplayer are fantastic.
What I didn't mention above is that the Arcade mode uses a rather clever process to plant levels within one another. It's best explained with a video, so take a look at the launch trailer.
See how the levels are wrapped around other levels? You can zoom in and out as you travel from one map to the next, and to build huge combos and activate fever mode, you'll need to plan routes between levels as well as within them
You may also have noticed that Pix is rather stylish. Not the cat himself, but the complete visual overhaul for each mode. Multiplayer has funky bots instead of groovy neon, and nostalgia mode looks like a Felix the Cat or Betty Boop cartoon come to life. When I first saw the switch to Laboratory mode, which converts the eggs into bouncing bacteria, I thought the modes were just reskins. They're essentially separate games though and even though I'll probably only ever enjoy two of the four, that might be enough.