Review by King Broccoli

"Alley cat, alley cat..........what are they feeding you?"

''Alley Cat'' is an endearing little game that puts you in control of a cat that resides in an alley (otherwise known as an alley cat). You must take control of this furry little critter, and make him do all sorts of cat-like things, such as eating cute little fishies and pestering the heck out of big mean dogs. It’s a very primitive sort of a game, and can be quite difficult, but it can give you a fair amount of enjoyment. This alley cat is a very cute creature, struggling to survive in a habitat that is not his natural one, and you have to try and keep him alive! It’s a dangerous and unfulfilling life and I wouldn't wish it upon my most dastardly enemy, but it sure is fun!

GAMEPLAY
The gameplay is highly original and should manage to keep you hooked for a fair amount of time. You start off at the bottom of the alley, the first thing you have to do is make it up onto the fence, you can do this by jumping from barrel to barrel until you can reach it. Of course it could never be that simple, there’s always a cat poking his head out of random barrels, trying to knock you off, and a ferocious dog running back and forth along the ground waiting for a chance to eat you. Once you reach the fence, it just gets tougher, windows will open and objects will be hurled out of them towards you. One of these hits you and you’re a goner! There are clotheslines up there; you can jump to them to reach the open windows (which you actually have to enter once the object has finished its descent). Running along the clotheslines are mice which will knock you back all the way to the ground. Any one of these many hazards could strike you, making it a very hard procedure to undertake, it takes a lot of reflexes and a lot of luck to achieve your goal.

Once you make it into the window, you get the chance to participate in one of the many mini-games inside the rooms. You might have to jump into a fishbowl and eat all of the fish there (whilst avoiding the electric eels), knock a cage off a table and catch the butterfly inside it or you may even find yourself in a room full of dogs where you have to drink all of their milk. They can prove to be very trying tasks, especially with an annoying broom sweeping you all over the place, and it can take a lot of practice to become proficient in the ways of the alley cat. There are so many foes coming at you from all sides, you can find yourself with a GAME OVER in no time flat (you only get THREE LIVES!)!

If you manage to get inside the window, and finish the task, you are given the chance to move up to the next level. To do this, you enter a window and are presented with a whole lot of storeys, and a guardian cat on each one. You have to simply avoid getting knocked down, make it to the top and touch the cat that sits proudly at the apex. Doing this will send you to an even more difficult level, then you just have to go through it again, with everything happening a lot faster.

The controls of Alley Cat are quite simple, the arrow keys move your cat around, and the ALT key will let you use all the special actions that the cat might just have up his sleeve. Kitty runs around rather quickly and can prove to be an agile little thing. He’d want to be, considering all the perils of his life. Develop a bit of a mastery of the game and you can avoid death a lot better, but it’s not something that you might want to persist with.

Overall, the gameplay of alley cat is interesting and well varied. There are four or five different mini games for you to try inside the windows, and you shouldn’t tire of them. It’s a frenzied, old-fashioned game and should bring some nostalgic memories back to you, it’s fun but it’s mindless. Alley Cat’s gameplay should give you your fair share of entertainment.

GRAPHICS
The graphics are the epitome of simplicity, this is an extremely old game, and boy does it ever show it in the visuals. Your cat and his other assorted characters aren’t anything special at all! The kitty that adorns your scene can be likened to a black smear, having a basic outline that resembles a cat only a little bit. He has a little dot for an eye, but other than this there is nothing about him that stands out. There are other animals; dogs (they look pretty darn ferocious, snapping their jaws left and right) fish and spiders. Most of the designs are ultra-simplistic and wont get anybody who sees them excited in the least. Their animations are also a bit dodgy, the four legs of our little kitty move like a blur when he’s made to run across the screen, his jumping looks reasonable, and when kitty and puppy get into a fight.......you’ll see the finest technicolour tumbleweed of your life. Characters, not so good at all.

Moving onto the backgrounds, they’re made up of a small amount of basic colours. There’s a lot of pink, a lot of light blue and a smattering of white thrown in. There is a small amount of detail, with graffiti strewn all over the landscapes. Everything is easily distinguishable, and simple to navigate your way around. The backgrounds do a fine job of taking your attention away from the characters, easily surpassing them in quality. You shouldn’t have too many problems staring at these scenes for extended periods of time, looking quite good considering how long ago the game was actually made.

Overall, the graphics are reasonable. The characters are basic shapes and quite ordinary, but the backgrounds have a fair bit of detail and life to them, and life the standards of the whole section a little bit. It is pretty silly to expect much more from the visuals than what they offer to you, what you get is a very fine effort indeed!

SOUND
The sound is extremely basic, and is probably best left turned off. It wont impress you or anyone in the vicinity of your PC, the in-built speakers sharing these ugly sounds with anyone that dares to come too close to your area. Background music is rather stupid, just generally being a series of clicking noises that does a great job of irritating you immensely. There are a few bits with some nice little melodies, but for the most part you’re just going to hear CLICK TAP TAP CLACK CLICK TAP. If somebody wanted to hear that they’d play a game of minesweeper (your mouse can make the same noises quite easily). The background music is not too good at all, they could have done far more to make it more pleasant sounding.

There are a few sound effects, some of them just a whole lot more clicking to accompany the music (like when that big bad dog runs on) but a few of them are a little bit better. Most actions in the game will have an associated sound effect, and they usually fit the action quite well (considering the limitations). The sound effects exceed the background music in quality a little bit, but it’s still not enough to warrant leaving the sound on. Overall, the sound is a major disappointment and it would take a brave man to listen to it the whole time they play the game. It’s best to just hit the CTRL + S buttons and just forget it ever existed!

LIFESPAN
There is a reasonable lifespan to the game, there is no finish to Alley Cat which will hurt the longevity but also do some good to it. Because of this lack of a finish, there is nothing to spur you on to persist with the game, but it can also mean that you’ll just focus on score and end up starting a lot more games instead. Most singular games will not last more than five or ten minutes, lives being hard to come by and easily thrown away, but a person should still get a good month or two out of it!

FUN FACTOR
The fun factor is actually pretty low, it’s such a difficult and frustrating game and you’ll be cursing at yourself and everything around you as the game erodes your life count and your self esteem. You can be killed off without pushing a button, and that can be extremely annoying at times. There are games that are a lot more fun than this, only when you become more fluent in the ways of the game will you derive some satisfaction and enjoyment from the thing!

CHALLENGE
The challenge is very high; it’s one of the most difficult games you’ll ever attempt to play. Enemies to the left of you, sometimes even to the right of you! You only get three lives, and you really need at least triple that to stand a chance against the game. In the later levels, when everything is at a ridiculously quick pace, you just don’t stand a chance of doing anything at all. You’d be more successful just closing your eyes and whacking your keyboard repeatedly with a sledgehammer.

THE FINAL PARAGRAPH
Alley Cat is a game with a few redeeming features, but for the most part it’s just too hard and too damn frustrating to really give you a good time when you play it. It is a bit of a novelty game, and can provide the player with a few quick thrills, it has no long term benefits however, and it’s best just to try out some of the other older games out there. It’s a good game for approximately half an hour, but not much more than that! I really loved this game when I was a lot smaller, I suppose the simplicity of the thing does have a bit of appeal. However the novelty has worn off quickly now that I’m older. It appears to be a game that would appeal more to the youngsters out there!
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GOOD POINTS
- It’s a game that is easy to get to grips with, nice in quick stints
- You get to experience the lifestyle of a REAL ALLEY CAT!
- Nice for people who think all games are far to easy, it’s a real leveler

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- It is actually too hard, by far too hard
- Not a game that will be played for an overly long period of time
- The characters are laughable, I laugh at them. Ha ha ha.
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GRAPHICS – 4/10
SOUND – 1/10
GAMEPLAY – 6/10
LIFESPAN – 3/10
FUN FACTOR – 5/10
CHALLENGE – 3/10
OVERALL – 4/10


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/28/00, Updated 11/07/01


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