Friday, July 24, 2009
Mappy was a game I first saw way back in 1983 during the Golden Age, of course - appropriately my introduction to this title was at a Chuck E Cheese (hmm, just typing that makes me crave for some crappy pizza..!) It was part of Namco's next wave of games following their explosive hits with the Pac-Man series, and of course Galaga. This game was nowhere near as iconic or special as any of those, and it released right before the big Crash - still, a fun little game which is memorable and shows up in Vintage packages now and again, let's have a look!
Another simple premise, here you're a "police mouse" trying to protect items from being stolen by theiving cat burglers (get it?), though as they are cats and you're a mouse, they have the upper hand. You have no gun, rather you can just avoid the enemies and occasionally knock the wind out of them, temporarily, by opening a door on their face. Some doors will unleash Galaga Tractor Beam-looking shockwave things which will clear a path for you-- these are unusual however.
You gain points by picking up items (pictures, computers, radios, etc) and the big mechanic here is that there are trampolines in each house which you can use to traverse between levels. Jumping on a trampoline implies invulnerability - if you're being chased, hop on, so will your pursuer but while you are both in freefall no contact will be made. Push in the direction of a floor as you pass by it and you'll hop to it. Also, beware as the trampolines have very limited "hit points" to keep you from chilling out there all day. Hit it a few times in a row, and it will disappear and you dead!!!!
Mappy was also notable for its scrolling screen, during a time when petty much every game out there was a single screen affair. This made the game's playing field seem enormous! Additionally there bonus rounds (seen above) where you'd hop through trampoline-laden corridors, trying to collect a maximum amount of balloons before the brief timer counted down.
Overall, Mappy was an endearing game back in the day, and as a unique little action game it can be fun for a spell now and again. Considering it's pedigree, it probably could have been something far more special and enduring, but mostly it seems like the designers were trying to break some molds and experiment with some different gameplay mechanics, rather than concentrate on refining more classic stuff. That's fine, but I certainly wouldn't have minded another Galaga-style genre-defining moment instead of this..!