Skip to main content

Super Xevious: The Mystery of GAMP: Can you solve it?


The 1984 arcade game Super Xevious received a Famicom-exclusive spin-off of the same name but with the sub-title "Ganpu no Nazo," which translates to "The Mystery of GAMP." GAMP is an acronym for General Artificial Matrix Producer, the final boss of Xevious and Super Xevious.

GAMP's "mystery" (or puzzle) refers to how each level requires the completion of a hidden objective to proceed. The level keeps looping until you do it. The first level, for example, requires you to fly your ship (the Solvalou) into a random cloud. The second level requires you to rescue another ship (called Phantom). None of the objectives are off-the-wall, and several are just destroying all the ground targets.

As in Xevious, you shoot your gun with B and lob bombs at ground targets with A. The actual shooting part of the game is not too difficult. The enemies never overwhelm you, and there are rarely too many bullets to dodge. That's not to say that the game is easy. I haven't yet passed the eighth stage, which requires you to navigate the Solvalou through two narrow tunnels while seeking a certain item—and your gun is inoperable, so you can only bomb. Every 50,000 points you get another life, which helps.


The game only has three main power-ups. On certain stages the Phantom appears and launches three colored balls. The black one gives you a shield that can absorb a single shot, the yellow one quadruples the size of your bomb blasts, and the blue one bestows a rear-facing gun. Having played TwinBee, I found these abilities a little underwhelming, especially given how rarely they show up. 

There are twenty-one stages with a final boss and ending. In a nod to its arcade origin, you can loop the game twice on harder settings to rack up a higher score. Weirdly, the game contains a secret password system, accessed via a certain sequence of button presses. Passwords can be discovered by pressing START at the beginning of some stages. A lot of early games were miserly about continuing. Sometimes they would hide continuing behind a special item (e.g, the Hudson Bee in Adventure Island) or require special button inputs (like holding A in Super Mario Bros.). Hiding the passwords this deeply is annoying but fits with the game's "mystery" theme!

The first secret password is to the fourth stage: 6974 

Personally, I wasn't enthralled by the concept of hidden objectives, and consulted a strategy guide. They reminded me of The Tower of Druaga, and that's not a good thing. I might have liked it better if the level gave you a hint to help you figure it out. Also, the background "music" is an annoying pulsing rhythm that repeats continuously. Whose idea was that?

Super Xevious: The Mystery of GAMP Famicom cartridge

The Mystery of GAMP deserves credit for doing something different with the shooter genre. Super Xevious was just a slightly enhanced version of Xevious, which was already on Famicom (and later on NES), so a straight port would have been a bit redundant. Instead, Namco created this unique variant! Unfortunately, the end result is probably less fun than Xevious.

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 smooth and let you do what you want (15/15)
Difficulty: Goldilocks: not too hard, not too easy (15/15)
Graphics: Beautiful, well designed graphics (15/15)
Sound: Better on mute! (5/12)
Stats
Developer: Namco & Tose
Publisher: Namco
Famicom release date: September 1986
Genre: Shooter
Extend: 50,000
My high score: 122,260

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mysterious Murasame Castle: Non-stop ninja frenzy!

The Mysterious Murasame Castle is a bit of a lost treasure. It's a frenetic samurai-and-ninja game set in feudal Japan. The real mystery is why Nintendo didn't bring it to the West (until 2014), where I'm confident it would have been a hit remembered alongside Ninja Gaiden . Look familiar? This game is a sort of fraternal twin to The Legend of Zelda . Both were made from the same game engine, and it really shows. They both launched on the Famicom Disk System in early 1986, taking advantage of its save feature. However, whereas Zelda is an open-world game with nine dungeons, The Mysterious Murasame Castle is stage-based. You control Takamura through four pairs of two levels each: an above-ground section followed by a castle. The ninth and final stage is the titular Murasame Castle. Although there are branching pathways, stages are mostly linear, like the dungeons in The Legend of Zelda. The Mysterious Murasame Castle Famicom disk The main gimmick of the game is that, wheneve

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels: Mario misstep

Given the enormous success of  Super Mario Bros. , Nintendo naturally wanted a sequel. It seems they wanted it so bad that, to quote Dr. Ian Malcom, they "were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Super Mario Bros. 2 landed on the Famicom Disk System in June of 1986, a mere nine months after the original. In English it was later given the name The Lost Levels since it was never released on the NES. The prematurity of the sequel shows as soon as you boot the game. It looks almost exactly like the original, down to the same title screen (with a 2), same sprites, and same backgrounds. There are a few visual tweaks, such as new ground tiles and faces on the clouds, trees, mushrooms, and moving platforms. The game has no new power-ups or enemies (except more aggressive red Piranha Plants). There are a few new elements, but they aren't very good. The Poison Mushroom hurts Mario (or Luigi); Super Springs propel him far ab

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 f