In all the talk of graphical downgrades no one seems much preoccupied with 'why?'. Why build something and then proceed to tear it down, piece by piece, in the hope that ever more diminished expectations about the final product won't be severe enough to...
This well-endowed catgirl demon clawed her way into our hearts with the 1994 cult fighting classic Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, and has appeared in multiple crossover titles since then, including the one in the screenshot above. Her voluptuous outift and bright blue hair, based on the Japanese "bakeneko" cat, has also made her a fan of cosplayers... to the satisfaction of anyone who enjoys the female form, no doubt.
Tango (Mega Man V)
Created by Dr. Light to help Mega Man in his fight against the evil Stardroids, Tango is his robotic feline pet who defeates enemies by rolling into them.
Cait Sith (Final Fantasy VII)
Though he's not exactly a real cat, just a robotic puppet controlled by the good-hearted Reeve of the evil Shinra corporation, Cait Sith is one of the more memorable characters, if just because he's a part of Final Fantasy VII. That said, he isn't a popular team member, especially with Tifa, Cid, and Vincent around. But at least he's not as difficult a member to recruit as Yuffie. Cait Sith rides and orders around a gargantuan moogle that he brings to life and ordes around with his megaphone, and later in the game, serves as a Shinra insider that tells the gang of the company's evil plans.
Spitz (WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!)
Spitz is the yellow cat partner of the anthropomorphic duo, Dribble and Spitz, from WarioWare, in which Wario recruits them to create microgames for him. Last seen in Game & Wario, Spitz runs Diamond Taxi cabbies and often help supernatural passengers travel to space. The Spitz sticker in Super Smash Bros. Brawl will raise a tailed character's attack by 12.
Mao (Shadow Hearts: From the New World)
A giant, white, alcoholic cat who can talk and is Al Capone's friend... what's not to like? Not only that, but she (yes, it's a she) wants to be movie star and uses her propensity for liquor to fuel her Drunken Fist kung-fu fighting. Nothing like spraying enemies with purifying Sake Cup Purge!
Willy (Rockin' Kats)
Developed by Atlus all the way back in 1991 for the NES, Rockin' Kats stars the blue jazzy cat Willy who must save his girlfriend, Jill, from the crime lord, Mugsy, and his gang of dogs. Attacking thugs and swinging from platform to platform with a punch gun, Willy is one of the few cats to be the lead solo protagonist in his own video game.
Big the Cat (Sonic Adventure)
Big the Cat entered the Sonic world in Sonic Adventure, lending to the team his gentle giant strength, which he uses to throw cars and boulders with ease. Along with his best friend Froggy, he lives in the dense junges of the Mystic Ruins, and attemps to save his friend after he swallows the yellow Chaos Emerald. His strength also lends him partial resistance to poisonous gas and sub-zero temperatures, as well as prowess for swimming and climbing that may even surpass Sonic's.
The orange tomcat Bubsy, like his animal mascot brethren, starred in a series of 2D side-scrolling platformers, though his popularity was eclipsed by Mario and Sonic. After saving the world's yarn ball supply, his niece and nephew from Oinker P. Hamm, and various children from fairy tale villians, Bubsy's stint ended with Bubsy 3D, which was an awful attempt at cloning Super Mario 64.
Myau (Phantasy Star)
An intelligent species of Algolian cat, Myau is a playable character who can talk and is Odin's companion. After he's unfortunately captured, the hero Alis ultimately trades him for a Laconian Pot. Myau's relatively weak at first and can't wear regular armor or weapons, but he actually becomes one of the most powerful characters near the end-game.
Kay (Legend of Kay)
In the Capcom-published title Legend of Kay, the mystical land of Yenching has been overrun by the Gorillas and Rats, and the martial-artist Kay is the only one who can save the day. (Yay for rhymes.) Eventually, he befriends a dragon and a group of pandas, who help him defeat the general of the Gorilla and Rat armies.
Lynx (Chrono Cross)
What a bad kitty... Lynx serves as the central antagonist of Chrono Cross and is *spoiler alert* actually Serge's father after being corrupted by the FATE supercomputer. Who doesn't love to hate a panther demon wearing the skin of dead cows? And who can forget the fantastic art design for the level right after Serge switches bodies with Lynx? Or Lynx's ForeverZero tech skill in which everything becomes nothingness? Very badass.
This one is hard to place. King is technically a human with a leopard mask, kind of a hybrid of Guin from the manga Guin Saga and pro wrestlers Satoru Sayama and Fray Tormenta. But unlike Guin who speaks a human language, King speaks leopard (with subtitles). So is he a human or a half-beast leopard-something? Either way, his repertoire of wrestling maneuvers and joint-breaking combo throws makes him a terror in Tekken. Once he gets you in a grab, you're pretty much mincemeat. Maybe he's not enough like a cat, but I wouldn't want to tell him that to his face.
Alley Cat (IBM/Atari)
Created by Bill Williams in 1983, Alley Cat features a black cat who must fend off dogs, avoid thrown shoes, and climb fences. The cat can enter various rooms through open windwos to catch birds, fish, and cheese, all while avoiding spider, brooms, and electric eels. It's not a complicated game, but it's one of the first video games to feature a cat as the main character.
Techno Kittens (Techno Kitten Adventure)
Yes, I have this game, and no, I have no shame. It's a simple game with a ridiculously catchy soundtrack. Just about everything is thrown at the player as a distraction: rainbows, lasers, rotating lights, epilepsy-inducing flashes, and even an inverse camera. But there's nothing like playing like a floating kitten made of bacon. It's silly, stupid fun.
Blaze the Cat (Sonic Rush)
Another anthropomorphic cat in the Sonic universe, Blaze the Cat is the princess of the Sol Dimension and the guardian of the Sol Emeralds who has the psychic power of pyrokinesis. She starts as a solitary guardian who distrusts Sonic, but she eventually earns to trust others and Sonic's team to protect the emeralds alongside her.
Blinx (Blinx: The Time Sweeper)
Developed by Microsoft Game Studios in 2002, Blinx: The Time Sweeper starred the titular, hot-orange anthropomorphic cat, to save the princess and defeat the Tom-Tom Gang with the time-altering suction power of his TS-1000 Vacuum Cleaner. This boils down to taking down a lot of pigs. Nothing like being a speciesist.
Leo (Red Earth)
Leo fits within the same space as King from Tekken in that he's another half-beast, but while Leo does speak in native languages, he's for sure more of a cat. As the 35-year-old king of Greedia, he's one of the protagonists of the little-known fighter Red Earth, and was presumably once human before being transformed by a bestial curse against his will.
Panther King (Conker's Bad Fur Day)
This yellow-eyed villain wants to stuff the body of a red squirrel, namely Conker, to serve as a leg for his milk table. The Panther King is pretty much a grandiose child who throws sadistic kingly tantrums, whose ruthless whims may only be surpassed by King Joffrey. Great company to have, sir...
T'ai Fu (T'ai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger)
Following the tradition of kung fu tigers in Chinese folklore, T'ai Fu must journey throughout the land as the last remaining survivor of his clan and learn the kung fu styles of all the masters before defeating the Dragon Master. If this sounds somewhat similar to the movie Kung Fu Panda, that's because DreamWorks was indeed influenced by T'ai Fu.
King Tom Tildrum XIV (Ni No Kuni: The Wrath of the White Witch)
Delightfully known as Nyandal in the Japanese version, King Tom Tildrum XIV is the King of Ding Dong Dell, the first city that child protagonist Oliver visits. His heart has been broken by Shadar and Oliver needs to grant him some enthusiasm to get him to take down the mouse king in Ding Dong Well. Studio Ghibli sure loves their cats, and we don't mind at all. (Also, a special shout-out to the pirate kitty Puss in Boats!)
Timber (Diddy Kong Racing)
Diddy Kong may have his name plastered all over Diddy Kong Racing, but it's Timber's island that he's saving. After Wizpig invades the island (why are so many pigs evil?), Timber the tiger calls upon his friends to held defeat him, one race at a time. With somewhat of an Australian accent and harmonica-based theme, he's a good starting player with average stats.
Woren (Breath of Fire series)
Train, Tiga, Katt, Rei, Cray, Lin, Una, Tarhn—the feline race of Woren have been a stable of the Breath of Fire JRPG series since the second installment. They are among the fastest characters in the party and have a healthy dose of magic resistance. The only exception is Cray, who's more of a tank build than his compatriots, but all of them are worthy fighters on your side.
Khajiit (Elder Scrolls series)
Keep your hands to yourself, sneak thief! Hailing from the aptly named province of Elsweyr, the Khajiit have the racial characteristics of a natural rogue: agility, stealth, craftiness, and mysterious speech all in the first-person. Their version of catnip tends to be Moon Sugar, an ingredient that can be refined into the skooma. It's not addictive. I swear. *gulp, gulp*
Zoanthropes (Bloody Roar series)
As a dystopia falls upon civilization, some humans begin to gain the ability to transform into half-human beasts called Zoanthropes. Only a select few of them are cats, including Alan Gado the Lion (pictured above in beast form), Uriko the Cat, Long the Tiger, and Shina the Leopard.
Kimahri (Final Fantasy X)
There are several catlike characters to choose from in the Final Fantasy series, like the Miqo'te race in the online FF installments and Red XIII, if you consider him to be a cat, though he's more like a sabretooth-tiger-wolf-something. Kimahri from Final Fantasy X is assuredly a feline, despite being blue and having a broken horn. He has whiskers, a tail, paws, and a duty to protect Yuna on his pilgrimage that runs deep enough to revisit his past on Mt. Gagazet and face his Ronso bullies.