Alley Cat for DOS

Alley Cat is another CGA game written for the original IBM PC. It was created by Synapse software apparently started by one employee and finished by Bill Williams. It was originally a game for the 8-bit Atari computers around at the time, released in 1983. Bill Williams then ported it to the PC where it became popular. In the game you play as a cat in an alley trying to dodge a dog and get into an apartment in order to get food and access to your lady cat friend.

The Title Screen

The Title Screen

The game has quite good CGA graphics, and some of the better PC speaker sound for the time. I found the graphics and sound to be quite good, even better than some later software for the PC. It is also interesting in that it runs ok on faster machines. Many games and programs of the time had poor timing code built into them, so would run extremely fast on newer 286 and 386 machine.

The game is challenging to play, but not so hard as to make it frustrating. It took me a while to get used to how jumping and moving worked and frequently got eaten by the dog that patrols the bottom of the screen. The aim of the first screen is to get into a window in the nearby building, once you have there is a mini game to complete. There are a variety of different mini-games all with different hazards. Most of them have a broomstick that chases you around and will knock you around or out the window. You can keep the broom busy by leaving a bunch of paw prints at the bottom of the screen. Once you’ve completed the mini-game you are taken back to the alley, where instead of an open window there is a female cat calling you. You have to get to her and complete a mini-game where you have to dodge an array of other cats to get to her at the top of the screen.

The game screen

The game screen

I’m still not very good at the game yet, so have not been able to play all the mini-games, and frequently get eaten by the dog. Despite it being hard, it isn’t because of poor controls. I used the normal keyboard controls, and found they were pretty good. The jumping mechanic takes a little time to get used to, but makes good sense. You can’t change direction mid jump like many platformers, and need to build up speed to jump a larger distance. There are joystick controls if you happen to have one, but I was unable to try these.

It’s easy to see why Alley Cat was one of the more popular early games for the IBM PC. It uses the graphics and sound of the machine well, and is a challenging game. If you happen to have an old machine, you should try this game out.


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