Retro: VC Weekly #179

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

Fans of puzzle titles will surely be surprised by this latest obscurity which features cat-humans, traps, plus more besides. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Catrap

Price: GB �2.60 EU �3
Publisher: ASK
Developer: Asmik Ace
Released: 1990
System: GameBoy

When it comes to puzzle games on the GameBoy more than likely most people will remember titles such as Tetris, Mario & Yoshi or even Qix but when it comes to Catrap you're likely to be greeted with some confused looks. Originally released as the title Pitman in 1985 it wasn't until five years later that the GameBoy was graced with its alternatively titled version of what is regarded as something of a cult classic within the puzzle-platform sub-genre with a fairly peculiar premise; two explorers have been banished to a subterranean labyrinth containing many cave mazes within and only one way to reverse the curse put on them which is to solve every puzzle within the maze.

You must help Catboy and Catgirl navigate the levels as you dig through ground, climb ladders and push blocks around in an attempt to thwart the enemies which roam as it's not until you defeat them that you can 'escape' to the next stage. There are one hundred stages in total with some being secret stages where the duo must work together in order to triumph; you are rather restricted in your abilities too as there is no 'jump' button or even the ability to run plus you can only push blocks, so no Zelda style pulling of blocks here.

Movement in the game is best described as a slow, steady pace though some players may find the controls to be somewhat sluggish by today's modern standards where most titles offer fast, fluid controls but in this case it's not so much of a bad thing as you're required to think a fair amount so the relaxed pace is welcomed. Interestingly this could well be one of the very first examples of games that offers a rewind function which you can use if you make a mistake, this is very useful indeed especially when you don't want to redo a whole stage; naturally it's quite easy to progress through the first fifth of the stages but after that things start to get a little bit more complex turning into a repeated trial and error as a way of progression... of course there is a solution to every puzzle, discovering it is half the fun.

There is a decent amount of detail in the graphics with some reasonable animation but don't expect much beyond this as it is predominantly a puzzle title; however audibly everything is rather cheerful with an uplifting accompanying beat which continues through most of the game, it may grate on you after a while but it certainly serves its purpose as do the sound effects which are suitably satisfying. Also worthy of mention is the ability to create your own stages and also share them via a simple password system, while it's not quite the same as certain huge titles with masses of donwnloadable user-generated content it's still a fun little addition.

If you're looking for a puzzle game with a difference and aren't afraid of taking part in a pinch of platforming then I would suggest that this is most definitely for you as quite simply you won't find anything else quite like this available on the 3DS at the moment. Catrap will most likely keep you entertained for a fair few hours, it's not really something you'll come back to a lot after completion but it's certainly an experience which you won't quickly forget.

Verdict : Catrap is a creative and cute addition to the puzzle-platform genre.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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