Cataclysm is an obscure action puzzle game on the Archimedes that involves channelling water from plugged-up vats in the top of a vertically-scrolling level, into a drain at the very bottom. Which you do by controlling a jet-pack-wearing guy who can manipulate objects to make the water take a certain route through the scenery.
The jet-pack guy can drop a certain number of grey blocks which – if placed strategically – can prevent the water going the wrong way, and therefore being wasted. The bottom left-hand corner of the screen shows how many blocks you have remaining. Above that is an indicator of time left to complete the level, and above that is the target amount of water needed to complete the level.
To start the water flowing the jet-pack guy must remove the metal plugs from the vats at the top of the screen by flying into them. He can also move through yellow blocks that will allow him through, but not the water. There are pink blocks that will disappear if hit by water, and pressure plugs that will release if a certain amount of water is sat on top of them. There are also a variety of other water-manipulating features that appear as the levels wear on.
There are 40 levels in total and the great thing is that you can play any of them in any order, although the earlier ones are obviously the easiest. As the levels become more difficult more features and more hazards are introduced into the mix, including firing gun turrets, meanies that block the water or that kill the jet-pack guy on contact, switches that turn immovable blocks on and off, devices that slow the water down, and even coloured water that can kill you, or must be mixed together with another colour to make a target colour (and then captured).
Cataclysm is a clever game and the water effect is impressive, but it won’t appeal to everyone because it can get frustrating. The biggest downside to the game is that it is difficult enough without having gun turrets firing at you and enemies killing you with one touch, and the fact that you only really have one life and are constantly being returned to the menu when you die. With a bit more leniency Cataclysm could have been a classic, but as it is: it’s a nice game that would make an even better re-make. It’s still a decent game, though, and one that should be played by anyone hunting down obscure retro games to play for the first time.
See also: The King of Grabs Archimedes Special