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Video Game / Mouse Trap

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Mouse Trap is a 1981 arcade video game by Exidy that was ported over to the Atari 2600, the ColecoVision, and the Intellivision.

In the game, you're a mouse who goes through a maze collecting cheese and avoiding run-ins with cats. By collecting bones, you can turn into a dog and chase after the cats to catch them for bonus points. What you want to avoid more than the cats is the hawk, who flies around over the maze to catch the mouse. To confuse the cats, you can change the doors of the maze with three color-coded buttons, and to escape and confuse the hawk, you enter the IN gate in the center of the maze which teleports you to one of the four corners at random.

It was one of several games that was made into a song that appeared on Buckner & Garcia's Pac-Man Fever album.


This game provides examples of

  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The doors of the maze are mapped to the colored buttons that activate them: red, yellow, and blue. The Atari 2600 version simplified this by having the doors all being the same color and all activated by the press of a single button.
  • Endless Game: You keep going from one screen to the next until you run out of mice.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The dog bones... sort of. Transforming into a dog made you able to "eat" the cats, but still left you vulnerable to the hawk.
  • Maze Game: Of the Pac-Man variety — just switch Pac-Man and the ghosts with a mouse and cats.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The mouse dies instantly when touched by a cat. Even when powered up into a vicious mutt, a single peck from the hawk results in a lost life.
  • Power-Up Food: The dog bones. A notable difference from Pac-Man is that you had to press a button to transform into a dog, so you could save the bones for when you really needed them.
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  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The Atari 2600 version had the controls for both the doors and the dog bones activated with a single action button. Pressing it quickly activates a dog bone, while pressing it down for longer activates the doors.
  • Scoring Points: For collecting cheese, catching cats, and collecting bonus-points objects.
  • Silly Animal Sound: When the hawk appears, it makes a noise like a kookaburra laughing in slow motion: "OO-HOO-HOO-HOO-HAH-HAH-HAH!"
  • Teleportation Misfire: The IN gate in the center of the maze teleports you to any of the four corners at random. If the hawk was on-screen, the IN gate would flash, and entering it caused the hawk lose track of you and fly off in a random direction.
  • Top-Down View: As with Pac-Man and most other maze games of that period, everything is viewed from the top down.