Kat Trap
by Design Design Software: Graham Stafford
Crash Issue 36, Christmas Special 1986/87   (1986-12-10)   page(s) 187

Way back in the June issue of CRASH a rather unusual competition was launched. The task: to design a game for the Spectrum. The prize: world fame and fortune in the software industry. Well, you never know! The winner of this prestigious competition was Jonathan Eggleton, selected from acres of entries for his design - Kat Trap. Programmed by DESIGN DESIGN and marketed by DOMARK the game is now in a finished state and ready for review.

Time has moved on a bit and we're now in the 24th century, and Earth does look in a sorry state. Pounded by solar explosions and abandoned by the Earthlings, the Earth has now become home for a strange and dangerous breed of creatures called Kat Men. Now that the solar explosions have died down, the Earth people are thinking about moving back into their homeland. However, the Kat Men aren't going to give up their new found home without a fight. In enforced exile, the Earth people plot to rid their home of the evils of the Kat Men for good, and to get the planet back into the bargain. Being a largely unimaginative lot they send down a Multi Terrain Exploration Droid known to his mechanical chums as M.T-ED. This cute little robot is more used to travelling over rough terrain than to fighting it out to the death with hordes of strange and nasty aliens. Accompanied by Hercules 1, a maintenance and combat droid, M.T-ED. is beamed down and the dynamic duo begin their quest. Unfortunately things go horribly wrong as soon as their little tin feet touch the planets soil, as Hercules 1 is kidnapped by the Kat Men and whisked away. Now with two tasks instead of one, M.T-ED has to blast his way through the ruined remains of this green and pleasant globe, and rescue his metal mate into the bargain.

There are fourteen sections to M.Ts task, each taking place in a different location on Earth. In each of these sections are many dangers which he must confront. He's a simple droid and not really cut out for all this fighting, therefore he starts out with only a few basic weapons bolted on this frame. Luckily, other sorts of artillery can be picked up along the way by simply walking into them, these are then displayed at the top of the screen and can be selected when needed. Grenades, rockets, lasers and even water are all used to help M.T-ED in his mission.

The reason for this array of different weapons is simple. Not just the Kat Men have taken up residence on earth. Ice Men, Fire Demons and Mekno Cats (who'll eat anything!) - to name but a few - have also moved in, and each type of nasty requires a certain type of weapon to defeat him.

The screen scrolls from left to right and our hero has to shoot the nasties and pick up useful objects before they get him first. If M.T-ED does get biffed by a nasty, he falls on his bonce and is stunned for a few seconds. When this happens he loses one of his droid lives. Not all of the nasties are lethal. For Instance, in the Charred Forest the ghosts simply make life very awkward by stealing any weapons that are lying around. M.T-Ed must therefore be very quick off the mark in this situation.

M.T-Ed moves in a realistic mechanical way, and can Jump over any monsters that he's too Sow to shoot. Being a Multi-Terrain Droid he can cope quite well with some of the bizzare landscapes which he must encounter. Although the Alps, where he has to sproing from one peak to another, might give him some serious trouble. M.T-Ed must struggle through each terrain until he reaches the Nerve Centre, where he has to rescue Hercules 1, but to get there he must even cross the bed of an underground lake and romp through a castle. Once Hercules 1 has been rescued there is another small game-ette to be completed before the end is in sight for M.TED.

On the bottom of the main screen is the score with the current high score for the player to aim for. Power is shown at the bottom of the screen, and when this reaches zero M.T-Ed loses one of his lives. At the top of the screen are his lives and the type of weapons he has collected.

Control keys: definable, up, down, left, right, fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: speedy
Use of colour: adequate
Graphics: detailed and amusing
Sound: the odd spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 196

"Kat Trap is a fast furious game that is more than just a butt around a few bits of scenery. You really have to look at each nasty before you blow his head off, or you could choose the wrong weapon and get town around yourself. The graphics don't seem are to be solid enough to look real. Sound is a bit basic, but the spot effects serve their purpose. I wouldn't mind if someone put this in my Christmas stocking (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, 'nuff said Santa).'

'The first couple of levels are fairly easy, but they do prove to be very frustrating, after these two the levels become a lot more challenging so the game as a whole proves to be very compelling. Graphically list Trap is slick, the characters we well animated and the backgrounds are colourful. The sound is a bit on the lame side, there are no tunes and the spot effects are minimal. I quite liked this as it plays well and it looks good, well worth a look.'

'We've seen plenty of preview versions of Kat Trap, so the finished version isn't anything unexpected. When playing the more complete versions, I didn't think much of it - it seemed very like an average sort of shoot em up. After giving the finished version a good half hour, though, I began to think I was hooked. Immediately, I wasn't hit by it, but perseverance certainly reaped its reward. I hope DESIGN DESIGN can get together with DOMARK again and produce more of this sort of game. It might well do them both a lot of good!'

Use of Computer81%
Getting Started83%
Addictive Qualities86%
Value for Money83%
Summary: General Rating: A humorus little shoot-em up.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 15, March 1987   page(s) 70

Anyone who comes up with a game that begs to be called Clap Trap and has a hero named MT-ED (geddit?) surely deserves some credit. But the question is, does the game?

The fun takes place on Earth which has been taken over by the Cat Men. These purr-fect aliens are rampaging across the mother planet following a nuclear cat-astrophe and it's now up to you with the help of your remotely controlled exploration droid MT-ED to get to the heart of their defences and save the world. Sound familiar?

Luckily for you MT-ED is extremely manoeuvrable - as well as moving laterally he can also squat and jump. And he's going to need all these skills if he's to travel through multiple screens collecting various weaponry (bullets, grenades and even water!) and wipe-out all those nasties. To use your weapons you must key them in - on-screen graphics indicate which one you've employed. And you'll have to be pretty dextrous with the old digits if you're to survive 'cos it's hard enough just to guide your droid.

To add to your problems your power pack is so small that your poor old droid gets dog tired very easily and collapses in a heap with great regularity. Although you can recharge yourself, no sooner are you fighting fit than you're surrounded by feline foe again. At least you've got five lives to play with before it's the final cat nap in the sky.

As a budget game Kat Trap might be a capable afternoon's caper but as a full price frolic? Pull the other one Streetwise! The graphics, though clear, are less than imaginative, even if they do scroll smoothly. And even the scenario isn't terribly original. But don't let that put you off - I'm sure some people might find these cat-like capers fun!

Value For Money4/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 60, March 1987   page(s) 34

Names. Funny, aren't they? We'd be lost without them, but thinking up good ones is sooo difficult. Look at Domark's situation. Having developed a birrova 'rep' for being inconsistent (wholly unjustified, you understand) they decided to get 'with it'.

And so Streetwise is born. A new label 'that puts forward programmers for the recognition they deserve', has probably the least trendy logo imaginable and pretends - unsuccessfully - to be completely unconnected to Dom-Dom and his mate.

One of their first releases is Kat-Trap, designed by the winner of a competition in Crash magazine and programmed by that zany bunch of funsters at Design Design.

So, if it was a bit of a surprise then to find the game's got the most useless storyline in the world.: Everyone on earth gets sunburned (owing to solar explosions) and leaves the planet unattended while they go on holiday or something. When they get back, the whole place has been invaded by cats.

The evicted humans, being far too simple to breed some Dobermans and send them down instead, decided to do battle with the cats with two hardy space-warriors, M.T.-E.D, and Hercules 1. The lads land on the planet and Hercules 1 is instantly captured (it would the one that's easy to type).

It materialies (What does? It does) that you must control M.T.-E.T. and guide it around the world, searching for its lost comrade, and the enemy base which, when destroyed will defeat the cats. Obvious isn't it?

Each sector of the game is labelled: The Ruined City, The Charred Forest etc and each is home for a different breed of enemy. Each of which is susceptible to a certain form of attack - Flames don't fancy water, that sort of thing.

The graphics are cutesy and you move around the screen looking like a pudding-basin with eyes and odd legs. The animation is very smooth, as you glide about, ducking and jumping and shooting cats who, oddly enough go "pow" (instead of 'meow', I s'pose).

At the bottom of the left/right scrolling screen - well it doesn't scroll, in fact. It sort of flicks, but it changes before you get to the end of the screen, so it looks a bit scrolly - is a power gauge which indicates how much power you have left. Yes, really.

M.T.-E.D. (apparently it means Multi Terrain Exploration Droid) is equipped with front-firing guns and a grenade launcher. Grenades can be collected by eagle-eyed players who spot the big crate with 'Grenades' on the side.

A peculiar thing is the way in which you die. Whenever you are hit by anything hostile, M.T.-E.D. will be hurled forward in a most silly fashion. Even if you were facing right and a cat in front of you shot you in the head with a laser right - yes, I know it's a stupid concept - you'll fly right for a couple of screens, and skitter along on your bonce. Very odd.

Kat-Trap is certainly a high-quality product. The code has many inventive twiddles and it is quite interesting to play. But, essentially, it is just another quasi-thinking person's-scrolling-shoot-out.

Label: Streetwise
Price: £8.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jerry Muir


Summary: An interesting game. More mainstream than most of Domark's stuff to date, and with a very slick feel.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 64, February 1987   page(s) 29

MACHINE: Spectrum/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Streetwise
PRICE: £8.95 (tape), £14.95 (Amstrad disk)

At last Domark prove they can come up with the goods when it comes to arcade games. Their new Streetwise label has a couple of goodies in Orbix and Kat Trap.

Kat was the result of a "search for a game" competition in Crash magazine. The winner was 15-year-old Jonathan Eggelton who had his design coded by a member of the Design Design team, Graham Stafford.

Design Design may have disappointed people with their Rogue Trooper offering but Kat Trap will help revive their reputation. It's a cute arcade blaster and arcade adventure with a hero MTED, who hopefully will be turning up in other games.

MTED - or Multi Terrain Exploration Droid - is Earth's only hope against the dreaded Kat Man.

MTED has to fight his away across earth's devastated terrain - encountering Kat Men and their horrible minions - in search of the Kat Men's computer which he must disable to rescue the Hercules 1 attack force, captured by the Kat Men.

MTED can pick up an impressive array of weapons to help in his task include flamethrowers, grenades, water(?), lasers, electric lances and so on.

But he has to work out which kills what - and work it out fast, those Kat Men are mean machine manglers!

He's also got a neat grenade throwing mechanism in the top of his head which chucks out these deadly missiles as he walks and fires at the same time.

What the instructions don't tell you is that you have to push the joystick to the right when you're walking to fire your laser gun - simply pressing the button just operates the grenade firing mechanism, which 'aint a lot of good if you haven't picked up a pile of grenades.

Once MTEd has penetrated the Kat peoples defences - and it's a tough job - he must deal with the Deathgrid, a device set up to protect the computer.

This is a sort of Minter-esque grid game in which you have to fire pulses to short-out electrical energy zapping around the grid. MTED gets just 60 seconds to final 15 electrical charges, otherwise he's doomed.

One irritating feature is that if you die the weapon highlighted switched back to your initial laser gun. If this happens when you are in need of an electric lance to kill Kat Men, then you have to be quick on the select key to stay in business. The joystick interferes with this process too as it can also be used to select weapons. But you end up in a tangle if the action is fast and furious.

Graphics are nice, sound is good and the game is very playable -addictive even. Just shows what you can turn up when you let the people that actually play games have a hand in designing them. But what has John got against cats?

Kat Trap is a sort of futuristic Green Beret with a few nice gimmicks added in. It's a winner. Check it out.

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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