I never enjoyed playing Mario. I honestly can't understand why there's such a love for the franchise. I admit that I haven't played anything beyond Mario 2 or whatever the call it, but jumping on turtles and hitting your head on suspended brick blocks to get coins was not enough for me to spend more than 10 minutes in a sitting doing the same thing over and over again.
Taking this into account, you can understand why Super Phantom Cat did not impress me in the least. In any case, Super Phantom Cat is an ideal, the state to which you want your anthropomorphic cat character to reach. You do that by collecting whatever power-up you can find inside the current stage. The powerups do help you a lot and stay with you until the end of the level, or until you die, in which case you will need to pick them up again.
Dying will reset you to the last activated checkpoint, so long as you still have a life left. Even though you're a cat, you only start with two lives, but you can collect more throughout the current level. Besides lives and stars (which represent the score), you also - maybe - will want to collect symbols for unlocking various character skins. It doesn't seem that a different skin goes anywhere beyond just a different look, but I guess that a new demeanor is a welcome sight from time to time.
There is a sort of a story element in Super Phantom Cat, but it is pretty thin and doesn't go beyond introducing new mechanics. Still, since there's a Super Phantom Cat 2 game out there, I might be mistaken.
Super Phantom Cat looks and feels like an upgraded Mario game, or a clone, to be more exact. If you enjoy the classic side-scrolling gameplay, you will most likely feel at home with Phantom Cat.