Cat and Mouse (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

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Cat & Mouse Overlay: What's a five-letter word for devoured?Cat & Mouse Overlay: What's a five-letter word for devoured?Picture a crossword puzzle grid (see overlay left). You know the type, empty squares (for the letters) and full squares (uh, not for the letters). The players start with their Player Spots on the Mouse and Cat icons respectively, which are already placed in the maze. In one corner of the maze is a "mouse house". (Yes, that's what "they" call it). The mouse has to get to his house before the cat gets him, but must do so by moving through only the white squares of the maze. The cat must obey the same limitation. If either the cat spot or the mouse spot overlap with one of the dark parts of the crossword puzzle-like landscape, they have to go back to their starting position.

(NOTE: Please keep in mind that the players are controlling glowing white squares that represent a cat and a mouse and are not controlling the cute little icons you see on the Überlay reproduced (meticulously and at great cost of time) above.)

The further the mouse gets before the cat "eats" him (tags him), the higher his points are. Score is determined by little numbered stickers that go around the top and right side of the Überlay. The score is the sum of the pair of numbers at the end of the column and row of the square where the mouse is eaten. (I didn't use my stickers so as not to "un-mint" my mint sticker sheet, but you get the idea.) No instructions are given in the manual for the eventuality of the mouse actually making it to his house alive. Either we are to assume he earns the maximum points (plus a day's respite from constantly living in terror), or the somber bastards who designed the game just had no hope for the poor little mouse seeing his house ever again.

Our playthrough of the game wasn't terrible due to the fact that my son and I both have a pretty morbid sense of humor. However, it wasn't all giggles. We started by cheering for the cat, but we soon realized, it isn't about the cat. It's all about the mouse! He is the one earning the points. He is the one that must excel at what he does and the Player that does the mouse part best, wins. However, the one problem was that we were simply unable to identify with the mouse. So, we changed the game to "Meowth and Pikachu" (my son's idea). We made it so Meowth goes after Pikachu but when he catches Pikachu, Meowth has to get away before Pikachu electrifies him into a smoking pile of ash. (get it? Ash? Heh.) We enjoyed ourselves for about five minutes before wondering what else we could be doing with our time that would make the world a better place in which to live. My son also suddenly wanted to play Pokemon Red. Go figure.

We had fun, but it was really due to our attitude towards the game and my son's acceptance of the fact that 'dear old dad' is going to make him play every single one of these Odyssey games, so he should try to make the most of it. (Oh, he is so going to write an embarrassing book about me someday.)

Since we didn't have fun until after we essentially licensed the game to a franchise from roughly twenty-five years in the future, I can't give the point to Cat and Mouse. Ultraman gets it this time.

The Score: Ultraman: 4, Odyssey: 2.5

Next entry is about the first home videogame “adventure” ever: Haunted House!

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Another winner! Do you mind

Another winner! Do you mind if we compile these in our upcoming online issue (maybe May-ish timeframe)? Would have an objection to using your real name for that?

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
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Michael McCourt
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Joined: 01/17/2007
Yay! That would be an honor!

Yay! That would be an honor! Use of my real name would be fine - (It's Michael McCourt, btw.).

Mark Vergeer
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Any live footage of this sytem to be found?

I was wondering if any live footage of this old game system can be found on the web.
Would love to see it in action.

========================
Mark Vergeer - Editor / Pixelator
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
Xboxlive gametag
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Bill Loguidice
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If no one else gets to it or

If no one else gets to it or uncovers some, I can get to in a few weeks if you remind me. I just about have everything organized on shelves now and easily accessible. Just a little more work. I'm going to videotape my whole collection (sort of a boring general walkthrough) before going into specific coverage.

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
======================================

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Michael McCourt
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Joined: 01/17/2007
Regarding live footage, I'm

Regarding live footage, I'm afraid I haven't taken any myself. :( If I ever get a new videocamera (tax refund money will probably go towards this) I'll be using it to do so.

Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Mezrabad, don´t sweat it

Mezrabad, don´t sweat it about the video. It´s very nice to see some reviews of those old games. Keep it up I say, you´re doing a mighty fine job.
The system wasn´t popular or known here in the Netherlands, but it´s very interesting to read what people think about those old game mechanics from today´s perspective. Cool to have your son participate in the testing aswell! Love that!
I am awaiting your review of ´Haunted House`!
========================
Mark Vergeer - Editor / Pixelator
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
Xboxlive gametag
========================

n/a
custom photo jigsaw puzzles (not verified)
Your post is really good and

Your post is really good and informative. I'm surprised that your post has not gotten any good quality, genuine comments. You have done a great job by posting this article. Thanks !!!

davyK
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Joined: 05/21/2006
These reviews really do make

These reviews really do make for an excellent series of posts. This is an era that I find fascinating and its amazing how many games were squeezed out having two movable dots on the screen!

I would love to see more focus on this type of thing - actually looking at the mechanics of these old games. These things were like hen's teeth in PAL land if they ever made it here at all. It is great too that the author is approaching it the right way - having fun without just totally disrepecting the stuff which would be all too easy. The writing style is enjoyable and I have enjoyed all of these posts.

I love the 70s artwork on the overlays - they just have a certain look.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Don't forget, you can see

Don't forget, you can see the whole series, including the ones after "Cat and Mouse", buy clicking on the keyword "chronogaming": http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/taxonomy/term/948

We're very proud to host this series here.

***************************
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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