Monday, April 04, 2016

Mouse Trap

Are you Hank Marvin for a decent platformer?

Billed as "old in style but brilliant in design" is Micro-Value's 1987 platformer, Mouse Trap which is based on the original Acorn Electron game!! I've always loved platformers. No, not the Mario or Sonic kind but the older ZX Spectrum kind that I grew up with: Chuckie Egg II, Manic Miner, JSW, Monty Mole, Saboteur II, etc. Oh boy, that list is near-endless... Anyhow, as you can imagine, I was very eager to give Mouse Trap a try.

We are Marvin The Mouse who desperately wants to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend that left him for another. She must be quite the materialistic female when you think about the plan he's come up with to win her back? Scrounge dozens of lethal rooms looking for precious items. Yep, that'll work. Hmm, women...

This is a cruel and unforgiving platformer: make one mistake and it's often impossible to go back and try again - which usually means a life lost. Each screen is level, so you cannot progress further until all items are collected on the current screen. Finishing each is a matter of working out the best route rather than the quickest.

There is a time limit, so hit the 'F' key to pause - now study the layout to figure out the best route.

No, he's not floating but simply in mid-fall. And that aspect took me a while to fully master...

Wow! Those colours... This game is incredibly different from the norm and I love that.

Some levels are quite simple. Not only to look at but complete very quickly. Like this one!

Input & Outputs

The controls are excellent. However, I admit that I initially found them a little fiddly and quite perplexing. For example, if you're facing left and then tap "right" (to turn around) Marvin will not only do this BUT he also walks a couple of steps in that direction. I'm used to Manic Miner, so this frustrating mechanic took me some time.

Visually, Mouse Trap looks like an 8-bit platformer but with the ST's extra pixels and colours. It's kinda weird and features the oddest sprites: check out the old man with the big nose who appears on level two!! (I hear you should hide behind a wall to avoid him at all costs). A weird game with some sprites that are either excellent or just plain crud: like the floating skulls which use an awful design, yet somehow it works perfectly too. Weird.

Music is eerily enjoyable but will get annoying, so press M to turn it off when your eye begins to twitch.

This baffled me at first but it's actually a lot easier than you realise. Love the sinking ledges!

Some of the levels are far simpler than you first think. Just take your time...

There is the odd dodgy screen but then it redeems itself with this blue beauty!

The CryptO'pinion?

Mouse Trap is a charming platformer with an incredible variety of different screens - all as difficult as they are addictive but you are always drawn back for that one-more-go! The only negative aspect is the lacking a save-game feature, and that absolutely baffles me. Especially as there are so many levels to plunder (ie, forced re/play). Come on guys, a simple password system for each screen would have worked well here. Not good.

Overall, that is my only quirk, which makes me wonder what they were thinking. Anyhow, having said that, I have really enjoyed Mouse Trap because it's a blimmin' excellent platformer. (Nearly) top marks from me!!

Download for hard disk or floppy.

Can you beat my current Hi-Score? I didn't think so!! :p


  1. This game was one of ten games bundled with my Atari ST. My sister and I played this game a lot. We were excited about the attract mode which cycled through all levels.

    1. At the start? Yes, this is much like the old MM/JSW and something I like as it gives a good glimpse to the levels you've not reached. Tempts you! (sorry about the late reply, I didn't get an alert for your comment)