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Review: Andy Thorn on ??/??/2000
||Bad Cats is a Williams game from 1989, designed by Barry Oursler (Space Shuttle) with a theme
of...cats! Well, Williams had yet to reach the 'every game must be a licence' era of the
1990's so why not? Bally were just about to release Mousin Around, after all! It's cartoon
cats rather than real ones, and they're all doing amusing things like trying to net the
goldfish, or roasting a mouse above a candle....hmmm, this looks funnier in cartoon form than
in print, check out the backglass picture...
Anyway, the first thing you'll notice about the
game is the backglass, as it has a great
animation feature. The animation is of a woman
with a broom hitting a cat, who has tried to eat
her budgie - somewhat reminiscent of the horse
kicking the cowboy in Buckaroo. In fact, the
woman is one of the few non feline characters in
the game's artwork, there's hundreds of cats
(well it seems like hundreds) and not much else!
The backglass is very attractive though, as it's
screen printed with good use of mirroring.
Probably the second thing you'll notice is the Seafood Wheel in
the centre of the playfield, a physical wheel visible through a
perspex window. The other main playfield features (from left to
right) are a bank of five drop targets (budgies), then the Tiger
ramp which brings the ball right round the edge of the playfield
to the right return lane. In the top left of the playfield is
the Garbage Can lane, next to the Fish Bone-Us 'linear target'
(a twist on the vari-target theme). At the very top right of the
playfield are three roll-over lanes (spelling TOY), below which
are three pop bumpers. Below these is a bank of 3 drop targets
(milk bottles) and above the right outlane is the entrance to
'Ralphies Kennel'. Finally, above the Seafood Wheel, just
right of centre, is the Fishbowl ramp which brings the ball down
to the left return lane. The game has the traditional
2 flipper/slingshot/outlane/return lane arrangement.
The plunger lane brings the ball up to these roll-overs, where one
lane flashes for the skill shot. Making this lane (lane change
is not operable at this point) advances the bonus X. In normal
play, spelling TOY advances the multiplier, up to 7X (shooting the
ball to the right of the Fish Bone-Us target brings the ball back
to the rollovers). From the TOY lanes the ball exits to the main
playfield, either downwards or to the left, under the Fishbowl ramp.
The main features of the game are as follows:
BAD CATS. Spelling BAD CATS lights the Fishbowl ramp for the jackpot, which scores up to 8
million points. Each time either drop target bank is completed a letter is lit, so just
complete 7 banks and shoot the ramp! It's not quite as easy as it sounds, but not the most
demanding jackpot feature I've played! The jackpot value (to the nearest million) is shown
on the backglass.
FISH BONE-US. The value (25, 50, 75, 100, 500K) is advanced by the linear target. This
works in the same way as a vari-target - in as much as the harder you hit it the more it
advances the reward - but instead of being pivoted below the playfield the target is mounted
on the end of a bar which is pushed straight back by the force of the ball. When lit, the
right flipper return lane adds a 10X multiplier to the lit value, so shooting the Garbage Can
lane is potentially worth 5 million points. If no value is lit, the lane scores 10K (or
100K if the multiplier is lit). From this lane, the ball is kicked across the playfield to
the pop bumper area.
SEAFOOD WHEEL. The wheel is spun by shooting the ball into Ralphies Kennel, when lit.
There are 8 random awards, from 10K through to Special, including Extra Ball and Light
Jackpot. On the last ball, one outlane is lit for 'Curiosity Spin', so you can hope for,
but never get, an extra ball....
TIGER RAMP. Really, this is the key for high scores. Starting at 50K, the ramp award
advances up to unlimited millions (timed), and on the last ball shooting four consecutive ramp
shots lights it for 20 million, at the time apparently the highest scoring single shot ever.
As the jackpot can only be a maximum of 8 million, you can see that the best way onto the high
score table is via the Tiger ramp.
FISHBOWL RAMP. As well as awarding the jackpot, this ramp is a good shot in it's own right.
Like the Tiger ramp 50K is the first award, but four consecutive shots of this ramp can award
an extra ball.
MULTIBALL. Ummm, no. Not even the Mickey Mouse kind of 2 ball multiball like Game Show,
the designers saw fit to make Bad Cats a single ball game. I can't think of a more recent
game that doesn't utilise multiball - maybe they used all their budget on the backglass
animation (though how much can a 3 ball mechanism cost???).
So, is it a good game to add to your collection? Well, it depends what you like really...
With jokey artwork and sound effects (the 'Meow Meow Meeeooowwww' of the Fishbowl ramp being
a particular favourite) it's definitely a fun game to play, but you soon discover there is no
real depth to the gameplay. I don't think it would have taken much to add this depth, possibly
multiball coupled to an increased jackpot feature for example, as with Bad Cats if you just
keep shooting the ramps you won't really go far wrong. But, it IS an easy game to get in to,
and casual players tend to say it's their favourite game in my collection, ahead of, for
example, Apollo 13 and Phantom of the Opera.
For someone who wants a fun game that's easy to play, and one on which their friends will
enjoy the odd game, then I would say it's a good bet.
As long as you like cats.....