Catch the Sperm is a freeware game created by order of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Part of a campaign to stop the spread of AIDS and educate the public, the game is a simple horizontal-scrolling shooter. The player is armed with a "condom gun," which he or she must use during travel through the vagina to catch sperm and sexually transmitted diseases as they pass by. Firing the condom gun subtracts 50 points from the player's score, to be regained when catching something. Sperm, which, if missed, can pass by without ending the game, are 100 points and viruses, which if allowed to pass without being caught end the game, can be broken down into the following values:

In addition to these, there are also small bluish bubbles that occasionally appear which, if caught, are worth 80 points. These can be skipped without penalty. These are not to be confused with the whitish bubbles that appear as well, which are merely part of the surrounding environment and cannot be caught. The game contains only one level, though as of this writing a sequel has been released, featuring multiple levels and a few other new features.

The game gives players the option to upload their high scores to the Internet (specifically, they appear on catchthesperm.com). Each week the players with the top three scores are awarded with a Catch the Sperm mousepad, so everyone who sees your mousepad can know you're really good at catching sperm and STDs.

The game's graphics and sound are really funny. The music once gameplay has begun is a lot like a porn groove (though probably better, actually). Viruses scream when caught. Any sperm that get by the player without being caught by the condom gun shout a little "yippie" when they go off the screen. The sperm and viruses all have (at least) one eye and look, well, silly (they're very cartoonish). When gameplay begins, orgasmic sounds signal the start.

The game was released to the public on 17 April, 2001 and remained in the top ten list of downloads on FilePlanet for a few weeks, if I remember correctly. Catch the Sperm was developed by a company called Phenomedia AG (their website can be found at http://www.phenomedia.ch/). The game can run either windowed or in full screen mode at 800x600 pixels. The sperm were sketched by Roger Horvath. The digital graphics and animation were created by Ingo Mesche. The game was programmed by Andreas Seebeck, thought up by Roger Müller, tested by Clovis Cueni and Corin Köhli, and produced by Claude Cueni and Alain Tanner.

My high score, at the moment, is 15500 points. =)

Pursuant to DyRE's writeup on this freeware masterpiece, in 2003-4 two further editions - Catch the Sperm 2 and Catch the Sperm Unlimited were produced.

Developed by German company Phenomedia AG, the games are basically side-scrolling shoot-em-ups, in which you, using the mouse, control a cannon at the right-hand side of the screen. Upon a noise which is the equivalent of a starting gun (it sounds something like "Ahh, Ahh, Ahh, AHHH, AHHH, AAAAAAAHHHhhhhhh....") funky music involving blues guitar begins playing - or, in the case of Catch the Sperm Unlimited, music appropriate to the scenario - and slightly cartoonish spermatozoa start swimming left to right onto the screen and you must catch them by shooting condoms at them against a background which is meant to resemble the interior of somebody's vagina (although if your vagina is purple, orange, and green and generally psychedelic inside then I advise you to see your gynaecologist - they should have kept the standard pink background and kept it devoid what what appears to be close-ups of pubic hair) Now you are awarded points for the sperm you catch and lose points for each condom you shoot and miss with; this is to try and penalise people for simply firing randomly and carpet-bombing the unfortunate reproductive cells. If a few sperm slip past you, then that's no big deal, but there are also sexually transmitted diseases of various severities which must be caught, for if any disease gets past you, you immediately lose. And the STDs sometimes try evasive manoeuvres, such as splitting into two halfway along the screen or, in the case of the syphilis germs, swooping in in a corkscrew motion, which makes things a bit harder. This persists in waves of 90 seconds or so, gradually speeding up with time, and the last 10 seconds are usually a great flurry of sperm and whatnot. If you make it to the end of a wave, you are awarded a large bonus and go on to the next one. And so on over five waves, after which your final score can be uploaded to the Internet to compare against others'. For the record, my best score at CTS2 (all 5 waves) is about 170k. But bear in mind that, for completion of each wave in CTS2 one gets a 10,000-point bonus and, for completion of the final wave, an extra 50,000. Also, there are very high-value gold, silver, and bronze sperm in CTS2 and Unlimited, not to mention the 1,000-point bonus for a "formation catch".

Sounds fun? Well, although the side-scrolling shmup is, of course, an outdated format, the sheer amount of detail and care that's gone into pulling it off is tremendous. The sperm, STDs, and other things are all rendered in 3D, and the sound effects are worth the price of admission in themselves, from the frenzied moaning of the starting noise, through the "Whoooo!!" sound made when a spiky green HIV virus is caught, to the falsetto "Yippee!" when a sperm escapes off the right-hand side of the screen.

Not to mention the various special weapons that can be obtained by bagging sperm in Superman costumes (which gives torpedo condoms which can fly through huge clumps of stuff at once), glowing green cyber-sperm (which cause arrows to appear showing where the next threat will emerge) and Olympic bonus sperm (gold, silver, and bronze) and similar. And if all that fails to amuse, there's still the whole sublimely absurd premise that you're controlling a condom cannon perched in someone's vagina shooting at invading male gametes.

Oh, and then there's Catch the Sperm Unlimited, which is a special edition of the game with various single-wave scenarios, such as the Rio Carnaval (where the sperm have lurid costumes and whatnot), Euro 2004 (in which the sperm are dressed in football shirts and the background is of a football pitch), Christmas, Summer (off a tropical beach, with sperm dressed in wetsuits, mini submarines, and bathing costumes), and even Internet Duel play, in which you shoot wireframe sperm against a glowing green background and, for each sperm you catch, another one appears on the opponent's screen. CTS Unlimited also has different "grades" of sperm, with standard ones netting 100 points but ones dressed up appropriately to the scenario net up to 200 points - for example, in the Euro 2004 scenario, spermatozoa in scarves net you 120 points, those in French football shirts net you 140, those in Swiss shirts 160, and those dressed in black as the referee get you 200 points.

So why would anyone want to produce such a game? Well, the folks at the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, that's who. The whole thing was part of their anti-AIDS campaign to raise awareness that people should practice safe sex. Indeed, in Catch the Sperm Unlimited, while the game is loading there's a random screen which flashes up explaining some statistics and why the use of a condom is recommended, although there's also one which says, "Small and Punky? An Average Appendage? Or a Giant of a Genital? As with the condom, with the penis, to each their own," which detracts from the seriousness of it all rather. Not to mention that, in some of the scenarios in Catch the Sperm Unlimited, the Durex logo appears on the sides of the condoms, so there may well be some commercial interest in it...

If this writeup has tickled your fancy, then I suggest downloading the game free from www.stopaids.ch or, for Catch the Sperm 2 go to Home of the Underdogs. Though I must warn you that tracking down all the CTS Unlimited scenarios is quite tough. I think I have them all though... if you can't find any, /msg me and I'll see if I can get those ones to you.

So have fun, and watch out for those syphilis germs!

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