Game information

Alley Cat

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Name: Alley Cat
Year: 1984
Publisher: IBM
Developer: Synapse Software
Platform: PC
Genre: Action
Total rating: 80.5% - rated 21 times
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Submitter: Andy_blah
Score: 10 points
Added: Feb 05 2006
Warez status: Abandonware



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Game review

Author: Cannonballsimp
Date: Jan 23 2012 - 15:32
Score: 75 points
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ALLEY CAT bizarre, unique and difficult cat simulator

Some games spawn entire genres: Wolfenstein 3D and Dune II are often considered the progenitors of the colossal First-Person Shooter and Real-Time Strategy genres. Other games polish an existing formula to such a degree that they become landmark titles: Doom and Half-Life are examples of such games from the FPS genre, while Command & Conquer and Starcraft revolutionised the RTS genre in a similar way. Some combine familiar genres to create innovative syntheses: System Shock and Deus Ex, for example. Some games even transcend genre altogether and become cultural institutions, recognisable to gamers and non-gamers alike: Space Invaders and Mario come to mind.

Alley Cat, a surreal game created by Bill Williams in 1984, did none of these things; 'cat simulator' is not a recognised genre today. By any objective standards, it is a mess. It consists of a handful of distinct mini-games, each with its own distinctive weirdness and palette of psychedelic colours. It created no recognisable cultural icons, According to Wikipedia though, Alley Cat was one of the more popular PC games at the time of its release. This just goes to show how much the gaming industry has developed since the early eighties. It is difficult to imagine a creation of such desultory logic, and filled with such surreal situations and arbitrary challenges, succeeding commercially today (something like Plants vs Zombies, despite its zany exterior, is at heart a standard tower defense game).

It is hard to recommend Alley Cat to someone who is simply browsing the internet for a fun game; it is difficult, sometimes unfairly so, and the rewards for progressing are slight. As the player, you must direct a cat from the alley floor into one of the windows of an apartment building, which open and close randomly. This is achieved by jumping from dustbins to washing lines, always avoiding being bitten by mice scampering along the washing lines, the miscellaneous household objects (telephones, pens, cups) thrown, often with devilish accuracy, out of open windows by tenants, and the big dog which charges around on the ground just waiting to chew your little cat to bits if he misses his jump.

Once you've made it into an apartment, you'll have to complete a challenge of some sort, such as catching all the fish in a bowl without being zapped by an electric eel, climbing a bookshelf to steal three things from a large spider, or catching a butterfly/bird that has escaped from its cage. Your nemesis in each mini-game is an animated broom that wants the floor clean and all cats out the house. It follows you, cleaning up your footprints; if it manages to render the floor spotless, it comes after you with violent intent and tries to knock you out of the window. Make sure you spend enough time dirtying the floor to keep it occupied while you go about your task!

After completing a mini-game, you are granted an opportunity to deliver a present to your kitty-lover. This involves dodging rows of other cats, and diagonally-travelling Arrows-Of-Changing-Romantic-Fortunes, that are dead set against you carrying out the delivery. Who are these cats? Why are they determined to make your love life so difficult? Who is firing these arrows, and why don't they affect the other cats? No answers for these questions are granted the player, and the mystery remains. You simply have to press on, always in a fog of ignorance.

If you succeed in delivering the present, you get a quick kiss from your lover, accompanied by a jolly tune, and a score multiplier, before being deposited back in the alley. The process is then repeated, but all the challenges have now become ever so slightly more difficult. This goes on again and again. I have never got to the end of Alley Cat, supposing there is an end.

Despite its flaws, Alley Cat is worth a look. The music is probably its strongest suit. I recommend pausing at the title screen until the music starts repeating. It goes through a series of variations on the basic theme; the last one is jazzy and acrobatic. Little tunes are played at particular moments throughout the game; they are all good. You'll need DosBox to run it on Vista or 7.


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Comments

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By MZ666 - Oct 14 2010 - 12:16
I was allmost forgot this one. One of the first PC-games I ever played too. And when I tested this yesterday my girlfrend came to say that she was wondering what is that annoing but familiar piiping voice  :D So she had played it too  -confused-
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By Muis - Jul 02 2010 - 17:29
This was one of the first games I ever played, was good then and is still good now, providing you look pass the dated graphics and game play mechanic.
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By Volverine - Apr 07 2010 - 13:37
Long tine ago that was most popular game in our PC-classes (we had an teacher's IBM-386 server and a few 286 without hard disks - so we may play low size games).
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By Indulged1 - Feb 06 2008 - 14:22
Great game but the music is imformous and annoying
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By Cutitaru - Jan 29 2008 - 18:12
hell yea i was lookin for this game for ages ^^

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