Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum
Developer: Andromeda Software
This cute little one screen spectrum game has often been classed as ‘educational’ software, and to be honest I can’t see why. To me this is a simple fast reaction arcade style affair and is therefore about as educational as Pac man.
You play a black and white cat, which, being fond of cats and not always needing to be a muscle bound gun wielder, was its appeal to me. You have to catch mice in a larder and take them out the cat flap before they eat all the food. How is that educational? If it were trying to teach you about cats then you would be catching them outside, playing with them till they’re half dead, then bringing them inside the house for your owner to see! Ok so it’s cuter the way they did it.
All you have to do is be quick, and think quick. You are timed by an ever decreasing score which on zero ends the game. You acquire points by getting rid of the vermin, but you can so easily miss the little critters, and even worse, knock down a jar from the shelf which will smash and lose you points, and/or the whole game. The cat is extremely cute and animated nicely and the larder is shelves of coloured food. Despite, or probably because, of its simplicity it is very addictive with that ‘this time I’ll do it’ factor. I even got my fiancée to play this recently who is a gamer but not really a retro lover, and she was definitely saying ‘one more go’. What new gen games allow you to do something as simple as be a cat catching mice? I guess you would feel more than a little short changed nowadays, and something like this would be a minute mini game in a huge story based adventure. Back in ’84 though, this was enough to keep you glued. There is also a very obscure sequel ‘Caesar’s Travels’ which I only just discovered, but is a graphic adventure with choices to make, and admittedly, some educational elements.
So, I learnt to be a cat. All Pac man taught me was that take too many pills and you will feel like you’re going over the same ground over and over running away from ghosts. But take a special pill and you will be able to face your demons and stamp them out. Actually did I learn that from Pac man or my psychiatrist?