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Alley Cat

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Synapse Software / IBM
1984
Genre:
Action
Theme:
Unique
Language:
English
Licence:
Commercial
System:
PC (CGA)
Views:
96790

Rating [?]

firage:
5/6
Overall:
5/6
Popular Vote:
5/6
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alleycat00.png alleycat08.png
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Local Reviews

firage (2014-12-04) [hide]

Avatar This early IBM PC masterpiece is Billy Williams' 1984 port of his 8-bit Atari game of the previous year.

The game starts in an alley with trash cans, moving clothes lines and randomly opening windows. You climb up and avoid dogs, mice bites and junk flying out of the windows to enter one of five types of rooms. You might dive into a fishbowl to catch fish among electric eels, chase mice hiding in a huge wedge of cheese, tiptoe between a room full of sleeping dogs to eat their food, drop a birdcage and catch the canary, or knock over vases on top of a bookshelf guarded by a spider.

Completing the room is the first half of the loop. You're sent back to the alley, and there's a female cat beckoning you in the window this time. Her room is a small platform puzzle, where you climb up to reach her and avoid getting dropped down by other cats and Cupid's arrows. Success there resets you back to the alley and bumps up the difficulty level.

Alley Cat's cool art style, lively animation and really solid technical execution allowed it to endure well despite four color graphics. The game was already nearly a decade old when it first became a staple game on my family's 386. And it's still great fun today. Despite that color palette.

The purple and cyan aren't all that the game experience permanently burns into your brain, because once you've heard the title screen melody, it will never leave you. The game also hit a good standard with its varied PC Speaker sound effects.

The controls are quite responsive, but you're frequently facing random factors where bad luck costs you lives. The difficulty is thus a little unfairly amped up to stretch out the content, which repeats until you lose and record a final score.

Alley Cat is an enduring classic PC action game that makes the most out of the CGA graphics and PC Speaker sound the platform had to offer early on.

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Comments (6) [hide] [Post comment]

Mr Creosote (2014-12-08):

There is a universal truth in it. If things are too smooth, too perfect, you have nothing to talk about and all too often, you won't even remember them. Too much polish can hurt ;)

Vagabond (2014-12-08):

Quote:
It certainly was, but why those two colours? Why this ugly pink and strangely mint tone? Why not real red and blue? Or Blue and green?

Because those were the only available colors in that graphic mode? And they picked the closest to those would-be natural ones? I mean, it's not the only game where exactly these colors were used time and again seemingly for the lack of better options...

Quote:
except for the fact that if they had chosen more sane colours there would not be the need to justify liking this coulour mode

Heh, now that's deep... :) So basically having things somewhat flawed and imperfect ultimately constitutes the purpose of living since what we enjoy is evidently the friction between our own notions of excellence and the outward manifestation? I'm afraid it's getting terribly philosophical in here.. ;)

Herr M. (2014-12-08):

Originally posted by Vagabond at 12:09 on December 6th, 2014:
I seriously think it was just a weird limitation.
It certainly was, but why those two colours? Why this ugly pink and strangely mint tone? Why not real red and blue? Or Blue and green?

Quote:
Yes, but do admit, that's because you got used to it :) I myself share the same warm feelings about it now, but i think proper colors would by no means diminish the effect :)
I admit it. Totally agree with you on this, it would not have been any different with any other colours... except for the fact that if they had chosen more sane colours there would not be the need to justify liking this coulour mode. :)

Vagabond (2014-12-06):

Quote:
I think they went for contrast in this case.
I seriously think it was just a weird limitation. Never got deep into specs of CGA adapter, but to me it was always quite obvious that it simply lacked the capacity to display proper colors in certain resolution modes.

Quote:
Nowadays I love the very distinct look of CGA graphics: I just take a look at it and think (and feel) about the good old PC-DOS days.

Yes, but do admit, that's because you got used to it :) I myself share the same warm feelings about it now, but i think proper colors would by no means diminish the effect :)

Herr M. (2014-12-06):

Originally posted by Vagabond at 14:06 on December 5th, 2014:
Well, what can i say.. CGA graphics rarely made any sense when it comes to colors.

I think they went for contrast in this case. You could not have chosen a colour combination more appaling and more eyestraining than that. ;) Yet, I still like it because I had such a good laugh at it as a child and made King's Quest even more fairy tale like. Nowadays I love the very distinct look of CGA graphics: I just take a look at it and think (and feel) about the good old PC-DOS days.

As far as Alley Cat is concerned: I remember this one being one of the first games I actually contributed something to the Abandonware scene, by uploading some screenshots of it on a site (I think it was C-DOS Abandonware or something like that).

Vagabond (2014-12-05):

This was one of the very first games i ever played on IBM PC, but considerably later than 1984 of course. That was around 1995 i think, yet it still impressed me somewhat, despite the obviously dated graphics and overall simplistic organization. In those days i hadn't even played a lot of Spectrum, besides, a true color monitor was a bit of a luxurious rarity to me, so this summed up gave me an indelible impression. It was lively, dynamic, comic, smoothly animated and somehow enticing. Ironically, today this game would seem fitting for the age range of 5-13, yet those kids nowadays play something rather more sophisticated and all too often explicitly violent. And here we are again, instead of kids talking about the game that most of us played probably a little later than 13. Shall we perhaps... give it another shot like in The Good Old Days? ;)

Incidentally, PCJr version was slightly better. Namely, the palette was tad richer and more natural. At least the giant cheese this time isn't acid green but properly yellow:

Well, what can i say.. CGA graphics rarely made any sense when it comes to colors.

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