Skip to main content

Mappy: A great mouse detective game

Next up in my list of Famicom games is Mappy, a cat-and-mouse game. Mappy first landed in American arcades in 1983. It must not have been very popular, as few people today seem to remember it.

Mappy is similar to Pac-Man in that you move through a maze-like structure (a house), collecting items (stolen goods), and avoiding enemies (cats called Meowkies). Even though Mappy is a police officer, it kind of feels like you're the one robbing houses, taking electronics, paintings, and safes!

The most distinctive part of the game is that Mappy can't jump, but instead bounces off trampolines. These function like elevators and are how you get to the different floors. While bouncing, Mappy is immune to enemies, even if they are bouncing with him. Avoiding the enemies thus involves strategic use of the trampolines.

The goal, of course, is to get as many points as possible. One way to do is this is to take out enemies by opening flashing doors. This releases a pulse that moves along that floor, blowing away any enemies in its path. You can also score 1000 bonus points by waiting for the big cat (called Goro) to hide behind a stolen good, then nab it before he moves. I don't know how this makes sense—why doesn't Goro hurt you in this case?

Each stage has a slightly different layout, and they get harder. There are sixteen stages in total. After that they loop, with the number of Meowkies increasing.

By the time the NES launched, Mappy had been superseded by its sequel, Mappy-Land, so (as with Galaga) Namco brought over that title instead. I haven't played the original arcade version, but from gameplay footage one can see that the change from a 3:4 vertical aspect ration to a 4:3 horizontal one required a corresponding change in level design. In the Famicom port, instead of six floors, each house has only five, as there isn't space for a sixth. The port looks nearly identical to the original, although they redesigned the computer and TV sprites for some reason!

Mappy Famicom cartridge

Mappy, with its weird premise, is not without its charm. I didn't personally enjoy it enough to feel the need to try and beat the sixteen unique stages. I would recommend this game only for fans of early arcade games.

Grade: B-

Gameplay: Fun, but perhaps not for everyone (16/20)
Theme: Interesting concept and characters, if a bit generic (16/20)
Controls: Controls are solid, but limiting (12/15)
Challenge: Goldilocks: not too hard, not too easy (15/15)
Graphics: Good-looking, if a bit lackluster (12/15)
Sound: Several solid music tracks (12/15)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja: A whimsical adventure in Japan

Growing up, I played The Legend of the Mystical Ninja at my best friend's house (though I was bad at it), and I had been looking forward to trying it again. It's an unusual, fun adventure game. I recently learned that in Japan Legend of the Mystical Ninja was preceded by three Famicom games and followed by three more Super Famicom games, none of which were localized for the West! The Japanese name of the series is Go for It, Goemon! It's based on a 1980 Japanese arcade game called Mr. Goemon. The emulation community put out fan translations of the Famicom games between 2009 and 2017. Surprisingly, no translations of the Super Famicom games existed until 2020, all three created by the same people . The series takes places in early-modern Japan. It has a light-hearted anime aesthetic. The titular character is a spiky-haired kid named Goemon. If a second player joins the simultaneous action (highly recommended), Goemon is assisted by an older, overweight ninja named Ebisumaru.

Mario Kart 64: 25th anniversary

Mario Kart 64 brought the fun of go-kart simulator Super Mario Kart into the 3D age. A few chunky polygons notwithstanding, Mario Kart 64 still holds up, even alongside sequels like  Mario Kart 8 Deluxe . MK 64 doesn't alter the fundamental formula laid down by Super Mario Kart. You still choose one of four circuits (Mushroom, Flower, Star, or Special) and an engine speed (50, 100, or 150 CC), then race against seven other racers, trying to place at least in the top four. Whereas the SNES allowed only two players, the N64 was built with four controller inputs, and MK 64 happily can use them all (though the music shuts off with more than two). Battle Mode returns as well, in which players attack one another with items, trying to pop all three of their opponents' balloons. This is always a blast when playing with friends. Lastly, there is the Time Trial mode, in which you race alone trying to set the fastest time. Is this the origin of the "Trollface" meme? MK 64's

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts: 30th anniversary

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is an SNES-exclusive sequel to Ghouls 'n Ghosts, itself a sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins . Like its predecessors, its claim to fame (or infamy) is being ridiculously hard. Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts follows the formula of Ghosts 'n Goblins to a tee. You control a knight named Arthur who must rescue Princess Guinevere by battling endless hordes of monsters and demons: Zombies, Ghosts, Weredogs, Bats, Red Arremers, and even Mimics (the D&D monster that disguises itself as a treasure chest). He picks up various weapons along the way but can only hold one at a time. Some of them (especially the torch) are worse than the throwing spears he begins with. Three new weapons are the crossbow, scythe, and tri-blade. The crossbow is good because it shoots two arrows at once, at about 45 and 30 degree angles upward. I avoid the scythe because Arthur can throw only one at a time and the ability to arc it downward by holding ↓ does not compensate for this. The