(GB / Game Boy)

Catrap (GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Catrap Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Definitely not a trap

Nintendo's been releasing 3DS Virtual Console games at a very nice pace so far. In just a few months, we've already had classics like Donkey Kong and Gargoyle's Quest. The newest release, Catrap, however, is probably the most obscure title yet.

Originally released in Japan under the title Pitman, and based on a game earlier released on a Japanese home computer, Catrap is an odd little puzzler which is not too well known, but a bit of a minor cult classic. The premise is a bit similar to that of Bubble Bobble — the two main characters have been turned into anthropomorphic cats, and have to solve 100 puzzles in order to turn back to normal and escape.

Similar to games like Wrecking Crew, every level in the game is basically one big grid of blocks and enemies. You cannot "freely" move around, and are restricted to only moving from one square to the next. The goal in each level is rather simple: you have to defeat all of the monsters. The first level is a very simple demonstration of this — all you have to do is run right into a monster in order to automatically punch its lights out and knock it off the screen.

It doesn't stay that easy for very long, though. Within a handful of levels you'll already have to deal with ladders to climb, blocks to shove and disappearing blocks to punch through. A major part of the game is the fact that if something is removed from underneath something else, the object or creature on top will fall down, but not until you move out from under it. Certain levels will have giant stacks of objects and enemies — the final level is literally nothing more than 10+ stacks of enemies and boulders — and you'll have to think very carefully about which pieces of the stack you want to take out at which moment, and maybe even at which height.

Of course, since this is a game that can ask for a lot of trial and error, the developers built in a very handy function: it's possible to hop back in time, move by move, with a single press of a button, allowing you to "rewind" exactly to the moment at which you think you did something wrong. In fact, Catrap is credited with being the first game ever to include such a feature.

Things will continue on with the basics for a while, but around level 30 a new feature will suddenly be introduced. From that point on, almost every puzzle will feature not one, but both of the game's characters and you'll actually have to switch between them, sending them to different parts of the level in order to reach their common goal of wiping out all enemies. Puzzles start to get even more complex from then on, and you can potentially spend hours on some of them, they're just that dastardly.

There's also a nifty level editor included for the creative types. Although some might lament the fact that the game generates a password for each level you create, rather than saving it, in hindsight, this has turned out to be rather handy: it allows you to share your levels with others by simply handing them the code.

While the gameplay itself is very addictive, the overal presentation is a bit lacking. The graphics are relatively simple but repeat over and over; there are no suddenly different tilesets every few levels, so you're stuck with the same identical blocks and drab environment from start to finish. The music is also quite grating, and it'll get on your nerves before you know it.


Catrap is perhaps the first unknown gem to hit the 3DS Virtual Console, and we couldn't have thought of a much better pick. With its 100 built-in levels which get more and more devious, as well as a level editor, the game has a giant amount of content for such a "simple" Game Boy game and could keep you busy for weeks. It was quite overlooked back in the day, but perhaps now people will give this innovative puzzler a bit of attention.

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User Comments (32)



ville10 said:

Just had an awesome deja vu experience! I'm pretty sure I played and loved this game when I was younger. If only I had an 3DS and could try it again...



Detective_TeeJay said:

Reminds me of Prince of Persia with the go-back-to-fix-your-mistakes feature. Why would Nintendo keep this from us and instead give us a crappy pool game?



Slapshot said:

Wow! I've actually not heard of this one before!

Looking forward to trying it out, as it sounds like the XBLA title, illomilo, very well may have been inspired by it.

Great review Marcel.



Link79 said:

I'll probably get this if it gets added to the shop this thursday.
It's nice to try out some GB games I never knew about.



grumblebuzzz said:

I'm hesitant to try this one out since I'm not the biggest fan of puzzle games. I pretty much only trust NL reviews on genres I know that I like (still fuming over the money wasted on Gargoyle's Quest).



Late said:

I like puzzle games but I didn't like Wrecking Crew. Maybe it was just because Spike always did something stupid and got me killed or stuck. I dunno how much this is like it but I think I have some puzzle games to play already as I just downloaded few DSiWare puzzles a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I'll get it someday.



ville10 said:

Turns out I owned the game as part of one of those old pirate copies with a bunch of games. Still works great, and I even had a password saved for this very game! Seems like I made it to level 76 back then!

Will definitely buy this when I get a 3DS. Seeing as I like it this much, it wouldn't feel right not paying for it!



Morpheel said:

Making and sharing levels via password (instead of some now-useless game link feature)?
Count me in! (when it releases here)



daznsaz said:

got this yesterday its a good little puzzler.like that you can rewind your mistakes.cost next to nothing and catchy music



TKOWL said:

Wow, surprised. I might get this along with Metroid 2 when it comes out.



SaKo said:

yes, finally a review! Looks like a great game! I think i might get it!



BulbasaurusRex said:

@9 As I see it, the biggest difference between this game and Wrecking Crew is that Wrecking Crew still requires some reflex-based gaming skills to avoid enemies in real time, whereas Catrap is a complete mental puzzler that gives you all the time in the world (or at least until the 3DS's battery is drained) to decide on your next move. That (and the rewind feature) make Catrap the superior game, in my opinion. I'll put this on my Wishlist once it comes out in North America.



Kafei2006 said:

A well deserved score. The music does get annoying after dozens of levels spent hearing the same highly repetitive tracks though (both characters' themes and the main menu theme)



the_shpydar said:

I was hoping this would get US release last week, but hopefully it's still coming. I love classic-era puzzle-platformer type games, and even a slight comparison to Wrecking Crew (aka the most underrated/overlooked Mario game of all time) definitely peaks my interest.



Thwiidscube said:

Sounds great! I think I'll get this when It's released here in the US! Hurry up Nintendo! I want Catrap!



Kyloctopus said:

Gargoyle Quest felt odd. I adored the platforming action. But the rest was no puzzle, no anything. It was go here, then go there then beat the boss. It felt like a truely dumbed down version of Zelda 2 for NES.



grumblebuzzz said:

@MrHeli What bit I played of it (about an hour) just seemed really repetitive and dull. The gargoyle dude you control was also heavy as a brick and really clunky to maneuver through the side scrolling areas too. I expected something better considering the glowing review it got here and on other sites. Everyone was saying it was this amazing action/rpg title and it ended up being a dud to me.



Supremeist said:

I picked it up, not knowing what to expect from it, but it deserves a 9. It's addicting, It's fun, and It's cheap. This is one of the best deals for 3DS VC yet. Don't pass it up!

Oh and the level editor is awesome ! Oh and BTW.. Still not sure how to really pronounce it. Is it "Cat Trap" or what? lol.



grumblegrumble said:

So yeah, downloaded it pretty much immediately this morning (along with 1001 Blockbusters) and I am loving it so far. Yes, it's basic, but so are most old Gameboy games, so you have to get past that. It's a wonderful little game. I love the 'rewind' feature So cute and helpful! This game does get harder and harder with each level, though, I'm currently stuck on like level 17 or something. lol. It's cool though because you can end the game by pressing the Home button and the VC saves your gameplay so you can resume later. The perfect touch for a game like this. 10/10!

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