Mouse Trap


Review by Bruce Consolazio



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

One thing that has not changed over the years is this: whenever a new kind of game becomes very popular and successful (i.e. profitable!), a number of spin-offs, sequels, and clones will surely follow.
When Pac-Man ruled the arcade scene more than two decades ago, one would lose count of all of the maze games that soon followed. Most were nothing more than outright ripoffs, but some were more than that.

Exidy's Mousetrap was one such game.

Overall, it plays like Pac-Man: You (a mouse) race around a maze, eating bits of cheese, while avoiding the baddies (cats). You can eat dog biscuits to power up into a bulldog, which allows you to go after the cats.

If this was all there was to it, then it would be a ripoff, but Mousetrap has some important differences. For one thing, you do not power up when eating a dog biscuit; YOU actually decide when this happens with a push of a button- meanwhile, you can store up the biscuits. There is a purple "IN" box in the middle of the maze, which randomly teleports you to one of the four corners.

There are prizes, just like Pac-Man (albeit always red and simply drawn), but here they always start in the same place, and, every time you grab one, another, more valuable, prize appears in a different part of the maze (the same prizes and places every time), up to a certain number.

Then, there are the three kinds of gates scattered throughout the maze: yellow, red, and blue. Each kind of gate is controlled by its own button; pressing the appropriate button causes all gates of that color to open, close, or change location. This means that you can control the gates in whatever way you choose with the press of a button, thus opening or closing the way for yourself and the cats.

You also get a new mouse with every 30,000 points- and you earn a bonus 10,000 points when your u clear each maze.

With all of these advantages, this game would be much too easy, except for one other difference: Mousetrap has a second kind of enemy, the hawk. This enemy can move in any of eight directions, is not affected by maze walls or gates, and- worst of all- will cost you a life, even if you have changed into a bulldog, if it touches you! As a result, much of your strategy consists of avoiding that bird, which often requires the use of a dog biscuit (to get past the cats blocking you).

**Helpful Hint: As in the arcade version, using the "IN" box will confuse the hawk. Just remember that you cannot tell which corner you will appear in!**

Mousetrap was one of the "first batch" games for the ColecoVision, and it did amaze (a-"maze?") us back then, because it helped prove Coleco's promise that the ColecoVision would "bring the arcade experience home." The ColecoVision version looks, plays, and sounds almost exactly like the arcade version, even keeping the proper maze proportions. What's more, the four difficulty levels was an option not even the arcade could offer. The fact that the arcade needed four buttons was not a problem, thanks to the keypad on the ColecoVision controllers (an overlay was included).

Since the characters in the arcade version were all single-colored, and the ColecoVision was capable of detailed backgrounds, graphics are excellent, almost duplicating the arcade version in most respects. Sound is also good; while not exactly like the arcade machine's sounds, all of them- including the music- are present and accounted for, although the music from the fifth maze on can get a bit tedious after a while (something carried over from the arcade, admittedly). The messages- points earned, bonus mouse, etc.- appear on the bottom of the screen, just as they are supposed to.

Gameplay has also been faithfully reproduced, right down to the slight difficulty in maneuvering through the maze. It's all here . Of course, the different skill levels can change a few things; skill level one only has four cats and no hawk, while skill level four moves much more quickly, has all six cats, a more persistent hawk, and awards an extra life at every 40,000 points. Thus, skill level four is indeed tougher than the arcade version; most players will probably stick with this one for the challenge.

Overall, Mousetrap was like Cosmic Avenger, Ladybug, and Carnival- early ColecoVision games that really helped to sell the console by delivering great arcade-to-home translations. It was a case of "if you liked the arcade version, then you'll like the home version," and it's still a pleasant game to this day.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:29 PM