A rather ambitious game from Martech on the C64 indeed… just look at the screenshots!
The story goes as follows (Thanks to a CVG clipping).. “The game was to be a 3D vector graphic arcade adventure where you control a futuristic mercenary out to steal plans for a revolutionary orbital interceptor code-named the CK 23.
Able to take off the land like any conventional aircraft, the CK 23 can lie in wait in orbit ready to blast back into the atmosphere at frightening speed, to intercept and destroy enemy missile and laser weaponry. The CK 23 test development site is the most secret and heavily guarded military complex on earth. Situated on a lonely and now deserted island, it is guarded by armed patrols, tanks, electric fencing and surveillance cameras.
The island is also criss-crossed by a shuttle network which used to allow for rapid transport for the now departed civilian workforce. It is your mission to explore the island and find the heart of the development complex. Once there you must steal the design of the CK 23 and then set a time delay mine in the nuclear reactor. The action takes place on a moonless night, hence you have been provided with a military image enhancer.
Using advanced 3D vector graphics, with full collision detection, the player sees an accurate representation of his world as he moves within it. Catch 23 will sell for £8.95 on cassette, with the 64C disk retailing for £12.95 and the Amstrad disk, £13.95.”
This sums up a rather complex sounding game and one which sounds very exciting. The game got a release on the Amstrad and Spectrum, and the reviewers were quite damning. After the impressive effect wears off, you’re left with quite an average game.
The lack of a C64 conversion suggests that it didn’t have enough poke to do things at speed and it was canned early on. Although CVG mentioned the C64, the adverts only stated Spectrum and Amstrad – so was it dropped early?
Oddly, it was found that a review was done in Finnish computer magazine Commodore-Lehti in 1987 (See translated review below thanks to contributor Antti). It isn’t sure how legitimate the review is, but it isn’t helped by the fact that they show a screenshot of Encounter instead. Were they anticipating the C64 release and decided to write about it anyway? We’re not sure, but we’ve added the scan anyway thanks to contributor Antti.
More soon we hope on this one!…
Contributions: Peter Weighill, Brendan Phoenix, Antti, Korekuta, Edwin Drost
Translated article from C-Lehti, thanks to Antti.
“Gee-Whizz! The enemy has built a plane operating from the orbit CK-23, and we don’t have one. The balance of power is at risk, unless we send a man to the island where the prototype is. He could steal the blueprints and then blow up the island.”
“Sir! We have just the right man!”
…and so I find myself on a dark island, carrying an assault rifle in my hands and the destiny of the Free World on my shoulders. I have eight hours to complete my mission before the sun rises and the game is up.
It seems that there’s a kind of image intensifer attached to the visor of my helmet. That would explain why everything looks like vector graphics. If only I could find the terminals of the Resistance’s scientists. Maybe then things would work out.
Catch-23 takes you on a mission behind enemy’s backs. You can travel to the different parts of the large island either by foot or by shuttle – there are shuttle stations everywhere. Piece of cake – if only there weren’t far too many enemies, both soldiers and tanks, to survive even for five minutes. The instructions are excellent. The graphics are fast enough, and there’s some depth in the game, but… They have seriously messed up the shooting part. The poor commando has to move the crosshair around and pull the trigger every two seconds, and with joystick that is not easy. Death comes soon enough. This simple flaw spoils a promising game. It’s just silly. However, you should give Catch-23 a go if you think you can handle the joystick faster than anybody on Earth.
- 16/06/22 – Added extra scan thanks to Edwin Drost
- 07/10/20 – Corrected magazine name.
- 17/02/20 – Added translated review and extra details.
- 10/03/15 – CVG review scan added thanks to Brendan Phoenix
Ok ck23 but what does catch 23 mean ? Is it related to Catch 22 ?
I think its just a clever play on the classic catch 22 phrase, though there is a definition in urban dictionary (which I suspect was not what Martech were intending for its meaning).
Another (pre)review of this game was in issue (Jaargang) 4, no 7 of the Dutch magazine called Commodore info.
Thanks Edwin! Just added to the page and a credit to yourself :)
The name of the magazine isn’t “C-Lehti” per se, it’s more like “Commodore-Lehti”, with the ‘Commodore’ being just the “C=”-logo. So, if anything, it’s “C=Lehti”, instead of “C-Lehti”.
(Instead of the minus sign, “-“, the magazine uses the equality sign, “=”)
I know, it’s slightly confusing, but still.
See the cover of the very issue (02th in 1987) that has the ‘Catch-23’-review in it:
Thanks Korekuta! I’ve just fixed the magazine name and added a credit to you.
I was surprised to see Catch-23 here as the C64 version was reviewed in a Finnish computer magazine C-lehti in 1987! (See the link, page 53).
For some unfortunate reason there is a picture of the game Encounter accompanying the review, but the journalist (the most famous game journalist in Finland back then, so reliable) clearly writes about a game that is nothing like Encounter and fits your description of Catch-23.
Importantly: C-lehti wrote only and exclusively about Commodore stuff (that explains the “C” in magazine’s name) so it’s extremely unlikely that they would’ve have played the game on Spectrum or Amstrad and released a review based on that.
Thanks Antti! I’ll get this page added to the scans section.
That is very interesting, especially if the publication is trustworthy. It is odd though how they have added the wrong screenshot – which almost could suggest that they pretended to review the game in anticipation that it was about to come out. A wrong screenshot might help to cover this up slightly.
I had also looked through the rest of the magazine to see if they had done a budget review of Encounter, as it may have had the original Catch-23 screenshot, but I couldn’t see one.
Yes, the publication is/was trustworthy, and so is the journalist.
I’ll try to reach him for a comment. I don’t know him myself but someone might…
Thanks Antti, hopefully they will recall something about the review.
The reviewer Niko Nirvi commented something like this:
“I can’t recall the game at all, but I faintly remember the thing about the screenshot being wrong.
However, I have clearly played the game. And it must’ve been C64 version, because I have never owned a Spectrum joystick.”
I’ll send an English translation of the original review as soon as I have some time to do it!
Thanks Antti! That is very interesting to learn and I really appreciate it regarding the translation. Only when you have time though, and no pressure.
So i’m wondering what the reason was for its non-release if a C64 version was actually sent out. My guess must be something to do with the speed, but hopefully Niko’s review will shed light on that aspect and give a clue as to what it could have been.
I should of mentioned it was Page 6 (news) section of Computer Gamer, Issue 27 that claimed C64 Catch 23 was due month after the ZX Speccy ver.
The C64 version was said to be following a month after the ZX Spectrum version (along with the Atari ST version) in issue 27 of Computer Gamer Magazine.