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Actually, I really enjoyed the novel Catch-22, but the point I’m trying to make is that the game Catch-22, a puzzler — unrelated to the book — that was one of the PAX10 (a selection of the best indie games at the recent Penny Arcade Expo), is truly delightful.
I am extremely bad at puzzle games. I Googled my way through many spots of Portal, I watched a lot of YouTube videos for Braid, and I even looked up how to get through a couple of spots in the demo for A Book of Unwritten Tales that I played. I don't even feel bad about the internet searching I do for answers and experiences that aren't my own, so it’s notable for me to get really hyped for a puzzle-type game.
Built by a three-man team that started the development company Mango Down, Catch-22 features a green ball and a blue ball circling a pink sphere in opposite directions. You first control the blue ball as you jump over the green ball to collect gold coins hovering above the pink sphere's surface. Once you collect all the gold coins (which increase in number with every level you pass), you swap to controlling the green ball and have to collect the same gold coins which then reappear. The catch (get it?) is that the blue ball remembers the exact trajectory it took while you tried to collect all the gold coins the first time, so you have to dodge its jumps and collect coins. Then you move back to the blue ball and have to avoid the green ball, and so on.
It's a total brain bender for me. It's so beyond the realm of my intelligence that I still laugh every time the balls collide and I lose. For a brief moment after all the gold coins are collected, both balls look slightly cracked and if you can maneuver them to collide in that brief window of time, they forget their previous paths and you get a clean slate for the upcoming coin collecting. The video below is a demo of a slightly earlier build of the game, but the premise is the same:
The art is really simple. Warm tones and cartoonish fonts give it all a whimsical feel, and I love that it doesn't try to make it anything more than it is, which is a fun and simple game to play on your mobile device when you're waiting in line. One piece of the puzzle I didn't get at PAX due to the noisy exhibition hall was the music playing in the background. When I started playing it on my PC, I was pleasantly surprised by the warm strings and mid-range notes that guide you through the game. Very beautiful and soothing, the soundtrack a great addition to the experience.
Perhaps best of all, when I stopped by at PAX to play this, the guys were incredibly nice. I'm not sure which one of the gentleman I talked to, but he answered all of my questions, didn't laugh at my abysmal lack of skills, and just seemed genuinely happy to enjoy the spotlight of the PAX10. More than the gameplay, the artwork, or the music, that’s what makes me root for Catch-22 to be a roaring success.
The game doesn't have a release date yet, but when it does come out it will be on iOS and Android platforms. To be even more awesome the guys at Mango Down put out a completely free Facebook version, which will be great practice before the app officially releases for mobile devices.
My high score is 25,087. I'm proud of it, now but I feel like once you all start playing and I'm going to be severely disappointed. Leave a comment and tell me your high score!