Garfield: Caught in the Act is a platform game starring the comic strip cat, Garfield. The game, developed by Sega, was released in 1995 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega Game Gear, and in 1996 was released for Windows PCs. The game was also released for PCs in the Sonic & Garfield Pack, along with Sonic & Knuckles Collection and Baku Baku Animal.
All the sprites were created by Garfield creator Jim Davis and hand-drawn by Davis and the Garfield artists at Paws.
A port for the Sega 32X was planned, called Garfield in TV Land, but was ultimately cancelled.
Odie scares Garfield while he is watching television, and he ends up falling on the television. In a rushed effort to repair the television before Jon catches them, Garfield and Odie attempt to put the banged up and broken pieces together. Without so much as a screwdriver, Garfield quickly reassembles the television, minus a part or two. As Garfield throws away the spare pieces, they become an electronic monster known as the Glitch. The Glitch transports Garfield into the television and now he must defeat the Glitch to make his way out.
The game is a platformer, with Garfield being able to attack enemies up close or throw objects at them (the close-range weapons and objects thrown change between each level). Enemies consist of ghosts, piranhas, crabs, bulldogs, and mummified mice. There are two bonus stages, one of which resembles a Whac-A-Mole game. Each time the player defeats a boss, Garfield takes a commercial break where he rockets through the Television Wasteland, trying for an extra life or a continue.
The original Sega Genesis game features six levels. Sega Channel subscribers could download Garfield: The Lost Levels, that featured 3 different levels.
The Game Gear version includes eight levels, two of which appear in the Lost Levels. There is only one type of bonus stage (accessed by finding an icon of Arlene's face in each level), in which the player must wreck everything in Jon's living room within a time limit to get an extra life. Garfield does not have different outfits in each level, and the attacks are the same in all levels (his close-range is a punch, and the projectile are stones). There are no invincibility items. In the between-level segments, Garfield does not take damage from the obstacles; instead, they teleport him back to the start of that segment.
On the PC, there is one new level, Alien Landscape, which was similar to one of the Sega Channel's Lost levels. The remaining levels are presented in a different order than on the Genesis.
Jim Davis stated in a 1995 interview, "I've known Sega of America president Tom Kalinske ... for 15 years. We always thought a Garfield video game would be a good idea, but neither of us was ready. I didn't have the time to devote to it because of other projects. Two years ago Tom felt the time was right, so we started."
The game drew inspiration from Davis' 1984 book Garfield: His 9 Lives. Davis noted that the concept for the book allowed them to portray Garfield as more "kinetic" than his usual newspaper strip character, facilitating the book's adaptation into an hour-long TV special, and reasoned that a similar premise would allow a more effective translation of Garfield into the video game medium.
Critical reception has been generally mixed. Reviewing the Genesis version, the four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the graphics and animation, but all but one of them felt these were outweighed by the loose controls and large number of mandatory hits. GamePro similarly commented that "colorful backgrounds and big sprites will charm cartoon lovers", but that Garfield's slow movement and weak moves make the game too frustrating. They concluded, "Fans of the comic strip might enjoy this platform title. The tedious gameplay and hopeless controls will disgruntle anyone else." Sega Saturn Magazine (previously Sega Magazine) criticized the bland backgrounds and sluggish control and summarized that "Once you've overcome the novelty of eliciting any movement from the world's most notorious sleep junkie, you're left with a fairly unoriginal platformer."
Reviewing the Game Gear version, GamePro's The Unknown Gamer was pleased with how well the player character recreates Garfield's look and behavior, commenting that, "Garfield's mugs and shrugs are funny and, dare we say it, cute." He concluded that the game, though simplistic and "hardly game of the year", would be a good experience for a younger or beginning gamer.
In a retrospective review of the Genesis version, Allgame editor Brett Alan Weiss praised the "cute cartoon-like" graphics, furthermore stating "Odie, Jon, and the gang all look like themselves, and Garfield is as orange and as fat as ever", but described the game as "an average and unimaginative action game that's cute but not very funny".