Review by stonerz12321
Truly a diamond in the rough.
My very first video gaming system and experience was a Game Boy which I purchased with my own money in 1991. I have a fondness for the clunky handheld, and now that I'm an adult with an income it's been my quest to acquire all the original Game Boy games I can. I found this game recently and had never heard of it before. At first glance it seemed weird and I assumed it was another crappy game. Oh boy was I in for a surprise. This has got to be one of the best puzzle games on the Game Boy, I believe it's up there with Tetris (not better, just up there). How could a game (almost) no one has ever heard of be near the titan that is Tetris? Well read on and I shall explain...
Story: The story is extremely simple in this game, but at least it has one which gives it a slight boost compared with most other puzzle games which have absolutely no story. You play as two women (girls?) who have been turned into cats by somebody. I'm not so sure who did it, though it doesn't matter. The only way to reverse the spell is for them to fight their way through 100 rooms of this evil persons mansion and escape. Catrap has about the most basic story ever, but since it's a puzzle game it gets a slightly higher score than say an adventure game would with a story this pathetic.
Graphics: When it comes to Game Boy games the graphics are always going to be lacking compared to other systems of it's time and even before. That said though the graphics here are quite nice. The sprites are well animated and detailed if a bit basic over all. Enemies come in a few different flavors though they repeat a bit too often. The protagonists look great and I really enjoy their animations. I can really see the Anime inspired animations in the way they walk (almost stomping) and when they attack enemies. The environments are also well designed and nice to look at, everything is easily distinguishable. Unfortunately the backgrounds are hopelessly bland, featuring nothing but solid white. It would have been nice if they could have made them even slightly textured. Other than the bland backgrounds the graphics are good for an early Game Boy game.
Sound: The music in this game is pleasant and charming, fitting with the lighthearted mood of the game. There is only one song played through each level and despite it being cute and pleasant it gets boring and tired after 20 or so levels. If you are planning on playing for an extended period of time (over 10 minuets) you will do well to turn the sound off. You don't want to be over saturated with the music, otherwise it could detract from your enjoyment of this fabulous game. The sound effects are basic and effective. They aren't persistent or grating enough to get irritating over time and they communicate your actions well. I especially love the sound effects when you rewind time. Don't worry, I'll explain about the time travel next.
Gameplay: Things are about to get awesome. This is where the game shines, and shines bright. Puzzle games are all about their gameplay; story, sound, music are all secondary to the most important part. This game is a ton of fun to play. The objective of each level is to kill all the enemies. Killing them is simple, all you need to do is just walk right into them, the challenging and puzzling part is getting to them. There are boulders to push, gaps to fill (you can't jump), ladders to climb, and dirt to dig. That might not sound like very many obstacles but the game designers are adept at mixing them up to keep each room feeling fresh. The most unique aspect of the gameplay is what functions the A and B buttons serve. A rewinds time and B fast forwards it. This is a wonderful feature for when you ultimately make a mistake. Instead of having to restart the level from the beginning you can pick the exact spot where you want to begin again. This is the first ever implementation of this gameplay mechanic and it would later turn up in games like "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time". If that isn't a testament to how revolutionary and unique this game is, I don't know what is. This game marries the a perfect balance between tough, brain bending puzzles and forgiveness to create, IMHO one of the best puzzle games for the Game Boy, and possibly ever.
Catrap contains over 100 levels, 99 of which are instantly available at the start. You do not have to progress through this game linearly, instead you can choose any puzzle from 1-99 at any time to play. Level 100 (actually called "???") can only be attempted after all other 99 levels are completed. Choosing the level is a great feature as some of the puzzles are very difficult and being able to skip a hard one and move on is crucial to not getting frustrated. Because there are so many levels and many of them are quite complicated you won't be likely to finish this game in one sitting. Unfortunately this game doesn't have a battery back up so there is no save function, however, the game developers compensated by providing a password system. It's a very simple 4 digit password and it will bring you back exactly where you left off. It's not quite as good as a battery back up but it functions nearly the same way. For me that is enough for it to be forgiven for not having a true save function.
Play Time/Replay Value: This game is difficult, some of the later stages (or since you can tackle them in any order the higher # ones) can get brutal, I've spent many 10's of minuets playing a single level. It perhaps takes 5-10 hours to complete the entire game. It's rather subjective though, some people are wired differently and can take down even the hardest levels (for me anyways) in seconds. For the average person though 5 hours should be about how long it will take. I think there is a good deal of replay value in this game, though you won't beat it and immediately start over. This is one of those games where you finish it, leave it for a while (few weeks or months) and then come back once you've forgotten all the solutions. This game is endlessly fun, because it is both very challenging and thought provoking whilst not being infuriating. It's a knifes edge that many games attempt to walk and only a few succeed at doing so. Catrap is one of those few games that successfully walks that knifes edge.
Replay Value: 7/10
Recommendation? Absolutely, this game is amazing, it has very quickly become one of my favorite titles for this system. This game also appeals to all types of gamers from the super hardcore to the extremely casual. Gamers of all ages can enjoy this game as well because it's ideas aren't overly complicated, or inherently frustrating. Unfortunately this game isn't as cheap like most other used Game Boy games are, at least online anyways. It runs for about $10 on Amazon (including shipping). I know that sounds like a lot for a used Game Boy game but trust me, it is worth it. You might be able to find it for less elsewhere, perhaps at a garage sale. If you do come across it though please, please, please buy it, take it home, and play this masterpiece of a game. You won't regret it, I promise you!
Product Release: Catrap (US, 09/30/90)
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