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Catz 4
Developer: P.F. Magic
Publisher: Mindscape

System Requirements:
Platform: Windows

Catz 4


Catz 4

ESRB: Rating Pending - RP
Platform: PC Games
Category: Simulation
Catz 4 Developer: P.F. Magic Publisher: Mindscape System Requirements: Platform: Windows® 95/98 Media: CD-ROM CPU : Pentium 166 Mhz or better RAM : 32MB Other: 300MB Hard Drive, 256-color video card and monitor; SoundBlaster or compatible 16-bit sound card with DirectX compatible drivers. Ever since the Tamagotchi egg, virtual life has been a very popular fad. In the last few years this trend has started to appear on the computer desktop in all sorts of forms. P.F. Magic has been a driving force in this genre producing Catz and then Dogz for the PC. Now they are in to the fourth version of their virtual pet series and they have really outdone themselves with some great new features. I will walk through my experience with this product and you will see why it is so very addicting. You start up the program and if it is the first time, you are presented with an adoption centre, where you can take out kittens to play with. Each kitten is a distinct breed with the correct markings and physical shape, as well as a mutt that is kind of an every-cat. When you have played with one or two, you then decide which one to adopt. You name the kitten and you are shown an adoption certificate. Then the program puts your kitten in a living room space with a fireplace, and windows etc. This is the default room that you start with, but there are many more to choose from. You can go to a kitchen to feed the kitten, the playroom to pick out more toys and the backyard to get some real romping in. As well as these spaces, there are plenty of exotic locations to take your kitten to. You can visit the beach, a gypsy carnival, the Wild West, the Arabian Desert, and a Winter Wonderland. All of this allowed me plenty of fun places to play with my kittens and little mini adventures. However, one of my favourites is the ability to bring your kitten onto your desktop with its' toy box. You can watch your kitten romp around while you work, although I don't say that you will actually get much work done. Accompanying you through all of the different scenes is the toybox. This is where you store your kittens' toys, treats, bed, etc. All the things they might need. As well you have all sorts of costumes for your kitten, some of them are scene related, for example, the circus, however they can be worn anywhere. My kitten happens to not like costumes so much, so we don't do that very often. Using Petz website, you can download all sorts of other toys, costumes, and new breeds of Catz. There are some basic ideas when using Catz 4. Your cat or kitten needs attention at least once a day and the program keeps track of your system clock, so if you miss out on some playtime, they might be cranky. They also need to be fed, disciplined, brushed and given time to sleep just like real cats. When they do something particularly cute, you can snap a photo of them and these can be put up at an online gallery. If you tire of your pet you can put them up for adoption. When they are old enough, if you have a male or female, or you borrow one, they will mate and produce litters of more kittens. Now if all this wasn't enough, P.F. Magic has added several new twists that make the program even more attractive. It was inevitable that they should have added voice recognition to their features list and what a feature it is. You can now train your cat using your voice to teach it tricks and to come when called. This provides a whole new wonderful dimension to your virtual pet experience. While I enjoyed this part of the program, I found that it was a little fussy about how you spoke and the background noise had to be kept to an absolute minimum. The other new feature is the ability to edit playscenes and create your own in the Playscene Editor. This allows you to place your cat in your own worlds, which is a great idea for the artistically minded. Over time, about one month, your kitten will grow into an adult. They get bigger and fill out and their characters sharpen and become very distinctive. It is truly incredible how unique these virtual kitties can be. As an added bonus, if you own the Dogz product as well, your Dogz and Catz can play together. The Internet adds a community dimension, where you can share your pictures with others, put litters of kittens up for adoption, and show off your cat on a specialised web page where others can play with it, if they get the plug in. There are also shows where you can pit your cat against a host of others for ribbons or trophies. Some may say that this is taking the virtual pet concept a bit far, but it is very funny and it also teaches children a sense of responsibility for these creatures. Adults also get the stress release of this adorable creature while they work, if they like. Da Installation On my machine at work I literally could not get this product to work and had to write to the company's email technical support. To their credit, they were very prompt with a response, but I still couldn't get it working. However, on the machine at home, Catz installed flawlessly and it ran fine. So, I assume that my work machine has some peculiarity that it just doesn't like. Da Sound The sound is primarily what you would expect. The kittens mew at the beginning all the time and they cry when they want to be fed. They also tend to cry when they are frustrated with you or with something that is bothering them. The mewing and crying is very realistic, enough that my real cat was upset and looking at the computer to find the other cat. Each scene has background music that is suitable and not irritating, but also not spectacular either. Da Graphics I was very impressed by the graphical quality of this title. Each of the cats was rendered as a high quality object and they were each unique and stood out as visually distinct. The backgrounds were all high quality and colourful. The theme for this product is cartoon. The cats and the backgrounds are cartoon style, not realistic and it makes for some very funny cats. When you mate cats and have a litter of kittens, they actually show qualities of their parents in their size, colours, and type of markings. As far as the web page component is concerned, it is definitely aimed at the person with no experience, as the wizard allows you almost no configuration options. However, you can copy the plug-in into HTML code if you know what you are doing. Da Gameplay This is technically not a game; it is more a toy, so there is really no defined set of rules or anything to win. You mostly just spend freeform playtime with your cat, teaching it tricks, petting it, and sometimes just watching it play. This is the ultimate in time-wasting software. There was almost no learning curve whatsoever. Any member of the family could play with this product. Even the younger kids would enjoy it, with a little bit of help. Da Conclusion Catz 4 was a hit with me. I have really enjoyed having kittens roaming my workspace and found that it was irresistible to stop working and pet them, or throw a toy for them. I have to admit, as much as I generally detest cute, I was really enamoured of these little puffy creatures. They learned tricks and got into trouble almost as much as my real cat. Also, you don't have to play for a fixed time, so you can use this as a coffee break or while on the phone :). I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a silly diversion from his or her serious work! Joystick way up for Catz 4! This title reviewed by Raven.


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