Review by SneakTheSnake
Adorable and endearing.
Catrap is truly a deceptively simple puzzle game. Under its cute aesthetic (hard to pull off, I'd think, for such an early GameBoy game) lies some surprisingly solid gameplay mechanics. The game is simple, but it is by no means a cakewalk; I can recommend it to any and all fans of puzzle games.
Players take control in one of two different characters. The object of each stage is to take out all the enemies but, as all great games tend to be, this is easier said than done. Your character can not jump, so navigating the levels is a matter of climbing up and down ladders and falling from higher platforms. Players must use the ladders to navigate the stage and use rocks, which can be pushed left or right, to fill over any gaps. Then, it's a simple matter of bumping into the enemies to knock them out and eliminate them from the playfield. The level ends when all enemies are taken out.
The inability to jump is really the crux of the gameplay. The character is limited to interacting with whatever is directly to the left or right. Enemies must be taken out in a specific order, then, as there is a limited amount of gap-filling rocks at the player's disposal. The game throws in some clever twists as players progress: while some enemies react to gravity when rocks under them fall, others stay stationary and must then be taken out by making rock bridges to cross over to them. There's quicksand, too. Rocks can stand on quicksand but, once players dig through it, it is permanently gone from play.
It is not long before the difficulty ramps up; as the stages become more complex, there will, of course, be more and more enemies to take out. It is just after the twelfth stage or show that the game starts to show its teeth, and players will be poised for a real challenge from there on out. The trial-and-error nature of the gameplay is easily forgiven thanks to some great design innovations: players can rewind and fast-forward all movements at any time with the A and B buttons, and players can select any of the 90+ stages from the get-go for easier access.
Honestly, it is hard to dislike much of anything about Catrap. This game would have hurt the wallet a bit at retail but, now, it's a steal at just a few dollars. Thanks to its charming graphics, its cute (if not somewhat monotonous) soundtrack and great gameplay, it's an absolute steal for a few dollars. This makes for a good timesink for a few hours and is a great puzzle game overall.
Product Release: Catrap (US, 09/30/90)
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