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Catrap - 3DS VC Review

Game Info

3DS Virtual Console | ASK / Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | $2.99 / £2.70
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23rd May 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Filling holes and climbing ladders sounds like the job description for a construction worker, but it's also the gist of what you'll be doing in ASK's puzzle game, Catrap. Despite their insane popularity, I'm not big on cats; but I do like a good logic puzzle, and that's exactly what this game is full of. Does it have the same energy as some of the other puzzle games of our time?

    Catrap is has you taking control of a boy and a girl who have both been placed under some sort of curse. The first three letters in the title of this game are key, as the two characters are actually a cross between cat and human. As such, they make appropriate mid-level movements like pouncing onto ladders from the side and whatnot. The game has a nice drop-in-and-play approach going for it whereby players can skip any kind of storyline or background on the two and, assuming you're a fan of logic puzzles, feel right at home with the simple and straightforward structure that the game presents.

    Your goal in each level is to defeat all of the enemies, done simply by running into them with a hip check from the left or the right. In terms of the enemies you'll encounter, ghosts will float in the air while mummy-like monsters (I call them sandmen) will stick to the ground. To accomplish this, you will push boulders out of the way or into place to cover up holes and create platforms for you to walk on. Standard platforms above the floor are set up where the underside also functions as a ladder you can climb up, or across in the case of multiple ladders in a line. One other element to consider has to do with blocks of sand or soil that can also be used as platforms; if not, to hold stuff up or make things fall below.

With these different elements often come stacks of elements in the same column where a domino effect must be considered beforehand. In that sense, there is a degree of planning involved, but in this particular case, I never felt like Catrap was one of those games where you had to work things out in a really meticulous manner. Many of the strategies you employ will just involve taking charge and exploring an idea of how to get around the different obstacles, then making adjustments when you find out that you're a little off in your approach. A handy rewind and fast-forward feature ensures that you're never left stuck with your choices. These are mapped to the A and B Buttons, respectively. Back then, it was probably a revolutionary idea. It doesn't seem nearly as impressive now, but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate it for what it is.

    Much of the fun is derived from the fact that the game never feels mentally exhausting or draining to arrive at a solution. Some may look at this and see it as a negative, but in this particular instance, it feels nice that Catrap can take a slightly more laidback approach and yet still prove to be more than adequate when it needs to be. In line with this, it's still quite satisfying to clear some of the later levels as they often have more reactions and possible outcomes that must be considered before you just jump in. But it's really not that difficult to clear levels if you really set your mind to it and work out the different possibilities in your head.

    When I first selected the Round Select option from the Main Menu, I saw that there were only 30 stages listed and quickly thought to myself, "Is that really it?" Thankfully, I scrolled down to find 100 in all and that put me in a better mood to feel like I was getting my money's worth. Players can go in sequential order if that is the way they wish to progress through the game, but the beauty of getting to choose any level you want is that you don't have to drive yourself crazy over not being able to make progress. There's not much of a difficulty curve per se, but the challenge factor is a bit sporadic in terms of how players can go for long stretches with little trouble and then suddenly have a single level stump them for a few minutes more than usual. 

After a certain point in the level progression, some puzzles will get you to use both Catboy and Catgirl in tandem, and these are appreciated inclusions to the gameplay for the way they break up what some might consider a repetitive experience. I must say the game does wear thin after a while, so while the game doesn't make any crucial errors in its design, players may find themselves disinterested once they run into considerable trouble. Instead of plowing through to come up with a solution to the puzzle at hand, players might be more likely to jump out of the experience and only return for a few short minutes on subsequent visits. To put into context exactly, Catrap is the kind of game to just whip out during commercial breaks or before bed; less so something you'll want to stay up all night playing.

    In terms of extras, the only real thing you have is an Edit Mode where you can create your own levels. I personally didn't find it too appealing, but it's still nice to have for the few that would actually spend some time tinkering with it. Although times are listed at the conclusion of every level, records aren't kept, so the game really is just about making your way through all the available levels. It definitely would have made for a fun co-op experience if the developers would have thought to bring these elements together into that type of environment. Then again, it's not like it would've mattered a great deal anyway since playing Game Boy games on the 3DS voids the ability to choose multiplayer selections.

    Presentation is pretty simplistic and inoffensive. It looks fine with nothing special in terms of visual aesthetics. The tune that plays during gameplay does depend on the character you choose, and after a while, you might find yourself a tad annoyed hearing the same one again and again. Other than that, there's really nothing else to say.

    Catrap is definitely a safe bet for fans of brain teasers and other like-natured puzzle games. Despite its age, it still stands up well, to the point that the gameplay doesn't appear rudimentary by design when stacked up against puzzle games of today's standard. While the game presents a few interesting changes along the way to counter the repetition of it all, the base of the game is pretty enjoyable and fans of this genre would thus do well to give this their attention.

21/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Multiple elements to consider but nothing complicated, can rewind and fast-forward, occasionally use both characters, a tad repetitive
Presentation 6/10 - Simple just like its structure, slight changes in music depending on the character chosen, nothing out of the ordinary to speak about
Enjoyment 4/5 - Fans of logic puzzles in particular will feel right at home, challenging to varying degrees but not intensely so, wears thin after a while
Extra Content 4/5 - Good number of levels, can toy with the Edit feature to make your own puzzles, surprisingly no built-in co-op, ideal for short bursts

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

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