Keystone Kapers (Atari 2600)

Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39520)
Written on  :  Mar 23, 2004
Platform  :  Atari 2600

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Catch the Crook!

The Good

I can imagine what it would be like if a simple video game was turned into a game show.

Host: "Who is our first contestant, Charlie?" 
Charlie: "Our first contestant is Robert. Robert's a 31-year-old janitor from Boulder, Colorado. He likes to play old Sierra computer games, including Space Quest. After playing SQ, he suddenly realized that his dream is to become a janitor."
Host: "Please give a round of applause to Robert."


Host: "So Robert. Charlie tells me that you are a janitor. Is that right?"
Robert: "No. I'm actually a fireman, and I brought my registration ID to prove it."

*Robert gets his ID out of his wallet, and shows it to the host*

Host: "Oh, I see. let's see if firemen run fast as we play...
Audience: (yelling) "Catch the Crook!"
Host: "OK. Robert, you know what you have to do. A burglar will be set loose in a 4-story shopping complex. Charlie, what is he playing for?"
Charlie: It's a brand new computer. The computer houses an Intel Pentium 4 1.8Ghz along with 256 megabytes of RAM and a 60GB Seagate Hard Disk. Software includes Microsoft Windows XP Pro and Office 2003, which comes with the software that you'll use on a day-to-day basis, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. It's from Hewlett-Packard, and it could be yours if you catch the crook!"
Host: Your tasks sounds easy, but there's only one catch: you must apprehend the robber within 50 seconds. Exceed the time limit, and you lose the game. You'll start when the gun is fired."

*Robert moves to the starting position, and the gun is fired. Robert runs as fast as he can.*

*50 seconds later...*

Host: Unfortunately, Robert, I'm afraid you didn't catch the robber in time, and let him get away. You lose the game, and don't get the computer."
Robert: Son of a bitch!"
Host: "However, you receive $100 for just being on the show. We'll be right back for more Catch the Crook! after these important messages."

If Catch the Crook! was on TV, the game would be as simple as that. However, since it's not and I doubt that it will be shown, you'll just have to play it yourself. In Keystone Kapers, you play Officer Keystone Kelly, not Robert, and you must catch a robber, nicknamed Harry Hooligan, throughout a 4-story shopping complex. In order to catch Harry, you must navigate from floor to floor using the escalators on each end. But navigating from floor to floor is time-consuming, so you have access to the elevator that will stop at every floor, but even the elevator is slow arriving at your floor. In the end, you need to work out what the best route to catching Harry is. Points are awarded by collecting the loot scattered on each floor. You are given an advantage over Harry: you can run faster than him.

And yes, you must catch Harry before 50 seconds is up, or you lose one of your four lives. Lose all of them, and the game is over. To make matters worse, you need to avoid hazards such as bouncing balls, sparks, shopping carts, and bi-planes. If you collide with the first three hazards, lots of seconds are deducted from your timer. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the bi-planes: If you crash into one of these, you'll lose a life. Once you catch Harry, you move on to the next round. As far as I know, there are a maximum of 16 levels. The higher the level you're on, the more difficult the game becomes. For example, on Level 5 onwards, the bouncing balls start to bounce higher, forcing you to time your jumps right. Furthermore, on Level 7, bi-planes and shopping carts zoom past faster than the speed of light. Level 16 is impossible to finish.

The graphics are good for its time, but if you make a program that has the same graphics look and present them to a game company, and you'll be fired. The sound is also good. The Atari 5200 version of Keystone Kapers is actually better than the 2600 and Coleco counterparts, because these two versions lacked music while you're playing the game, whereas in the 5200 version, at least there is some decent music you can listen to while you play. If you don't like the music, you can turn it off, either before a game or during one.

The Bad

You wonder why Activision didn't make ports to the early computer systems, such as C64, Amstrad, and Spectrum.

The Bottom Line

Quite a great game. My highest score was something around 30,900. Let's see if you can beat that.

Rating: ***