Felix the Cat Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

As one of the earliest animated characters dating back to the silent film era, Felix the Cat’s popularity has waxed and waned over the decades. His charm, though, continues to endure beyond his centenary. He may be the only cartoon mascot older than Mickey Mouse to have also tried their hand at the Super Mario Bros. formula in a side-scrolling platformer, too.

Originally published by Hudson Software in 1992, Felix’s foray into video games came relatively late in the Nintendo Entertainment System’s (NES) lifespan alongside a heavily condensed port on the Game Boy. The titles are well remembered by those who played them but have fallen into relative obscurity and now fetch eye-watering sums on the second-hand market.

You are tasked with guiding the grinning black cat through nine worlds and multiple stages in a bid to rescue Kitty, the damsel in distress, from a maniacal mad scientist, the Professor, and his underlings, all characters from the 1958-60 television show that also appeared in the 1991 direct to video movie which the game appears to be loosely based around.

Felix the Cat Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

In a boon for game preservation, both the console and handheld versions of Felix the Cat have come to the Switch as a collection developed by Limited Run Games and published by Konami, current owners of Hudson and its IP. Equipped with save state and rewind features, this is the definitive way to revisit these games. But with the cost of entry at $24.99 MSRP, it’s a hard sell.

Hindsight also shows Felix the Cat falls short of the vaunted heights of its inspirations. It liberally incorporates tropes from the Super Mario Bros. series but lacks platforming finesse, and is eclipsed by 1993’s Kirby’s Adventure, with both games built around beginner-friendly approachability and the fun of discovering character transformations.

With a bag of tricks in hand, Felix is able to conjure vehicles like a tank, plane, and submarine and even ride a dolphin. Levels take place on dry land, some in the air, and others on or under water. Despite the shaken-up gameplay mechanics such different environments would usually imply, each of Felix the Cat’s levels feels relatively similar and recycled.

Felix the Cat Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Felix’s movement leaves much to be desired and can be imprecise in certain vehicles. Level designs and boss fights are scantly iterated upon with little additional challenge or more clever enemy behaviours as you progress. Some stages offer verticality with Balloon Fight-style controls requiring you to mash the jump button to manoeuvre and stay afloat.

As a game largely intended for children, it offers especially low difficulty, even in its back half. You can easily dispense with cooker-cutter enemies with a single hit from a spring-loaded boxing glove. Hearts appear when Felix collects ten of the generously allocated coins emblazoned with his face throughout stages, powering up his abilities for a limited time.

In his most basic form, Felix has limited range and can lose a life with one touch of an enemy. But with a heart, he puts on a top hat and dispenses lethal razzle-dazzle in all directions. Further hearts put him in a vehicle that changes depending on the stage, affording a more ample attack range. Any enemy contact results in Felix reverting to his preceding form and its ability.

Felix the Cat Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Collecting one hundred Felix faces grants an extra life, with the bag of tricks itself serving as a stand-in for green warp pipes that bring you to hidden rooms with loot. Despite changing up environments, abilities, and ways to manoeuvre, somehow Felix the Cat manages to offer only more of the same throughout its short and breezy campaign.

While serviceable from start to finish, the lack of inventiveness in its level design, lack of serious challenge, and repetitive gameplay began to grate around the halfway mark. That said, the NES campaign can be beaten in an hour, while the Game Boy version plays like what is it: a simplified monochromatic port with more than half of its levels cut.

To its credit, the colourful 8-bit environments and clear attention to detail — the titular feline falling asleep if the controller is left idle in one area — are endearing. There is clear reverence for the source material that shines through, and the handy rewind feature in this package undoes a fatal jump or enemy encounter and spares you from any needless frustration.

Felix the Cat Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Holding down the 'ZL' trigger sends the gameplay into reverse with a black-and-white overlay in a thoughtful nod to Felix’s pioneering animations of the 1920s. Game progression can be saved on the fly from the pause menu, though there is only one save state per title at a time. There’s an optional yellow border and no others to choose from.


NES enthusiasts, parents looking for an approachable retro game for their kids, and anyone with nostalgic sentiments toward Felix the Cat will find something to enjoy here – all the better if it’s on sale. This relatively sparse package boasts little else than two versions of the same hour-long, three-decade-old game, making it hard to justify at its full price point.