Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Catalypse (C64, 1992)

Catalypse is a horizontal space shooter which came along late in the C64's commercial lifetime, and as a result is not that well-known, something which was hardly helped by a Zzap review which slated the game. Commodore Format was far more favourable, even giving it a corker. Did those two mags ever agree on something? Catalypse also got a reputation for being influenced by Armalyte, though I don't see that much of a resemblance, to be honest.

I don't see any point in getting involved with the plot either, as it's sure to deal with the usual space liberator scenario, so let's just take a look at the game straight away. Now, if there's an immediate criticism about Catalypse, is that it's a very difficult game to get into. We played this recently in the Lemon-64 gaming competition, and I was getting nowhere, until a fellow Lemon member posted longplays on YouTube. Only after seeing them I got into the game mechanics and realized that you should use the drone ship bonus, not as a shield, but as an extra weapon.

Prior to that, I was trying to make ends meet by using my own ship and just firing at the enemies. It was pretty clear that this wasn't the way to go, because some enemies just wouldn't die with your normal firing range, but if you use the drone ship as a weapon, you can kill pretty much everything.

Another turning point is when i realized that if you just keep the fire button pressed, it acts like an auto-fire switch. That made things a lot easier because before that I was getting the thumbs blues by pressing fire like a maniac. Well, that was it, after discovering these two little tricks, I got hooked. Catalypse transformed from a really frustrating experience to a frenetic and speedy shoot-em-up ride.

That said I still don't consider it a classic. It lacks a bit in atmosphere. Even though the levels feature nicely drawn graphics, I've seen these kind of backgrounds so many times before that they don't have an effect on me. I also don't find the music that special, even though it's nice that there's sound effects and music simultaneously.

I've already made the point in previous reviews, on how important music can be to a game, case in point, Rob Hubbard's spectacular tune for Lightforce. It's that tune alone which makes Lightforce a great shoot-em-up. So, overall, Catalypse just lacks that bit of atmospheric edge to make it really special.



Merman said...

Look at level 1 of Catalypse and it is almost IDENTICAL to the layout of level 1 of Armalyte. The enemy graphics, the shading, the attack patterns, even some of the bullets move in EXACTLY the same way.

Later levels of Catalypse are much better because they are (slightly) more original, although heavily influenced by the likes of R-Type and Salamander.

But I always found playing it to feel "inferior" to Armalyte.

Jim Slip said...

Are they identical? I don't see it.

Here's level 1 of Armalyte.

And here's level 1 of Catalypse.

I don't know, they don't seem identical to me.