200 Best Video Games of All Time - Mappy
200 Best Video Games of All Time
Namco is one of the great golden age arcade developers, largely known for Pac-Man
, Dig Dug
, and Galaxian
. However, their secret best title is Mappy, a cute cat and mouse platformer with vague influences from some of their more popular titles.
The goal, as the titular policemouse, is to collect a series of items strewn about the level while avoiding a miniature army of thieving cats. The stage is divided into several floors, and the only methods of traversal are trampolines strewn about.
As with many classic games
of the era, Mappy
cannot directly attack his opponents, but there are a few tricks he can use against them – particularly, the many doors spread around. Only Mappy
can open and close doors, so he can use them strategically to divert enemies or knock them off their feet, if they're close enough. Additionally, Mappy
is invincible while bouncing on trampolines. Just on these terms, Mappy
is a fun game
, but there are numerous layers to the scoring strategy.
For example, all of the collectible items are placed in pairs. If you collect them both one after another, you get a stackable score multiplier. The items are worth different point values, so do a little math and you'll realize that there's a specific order to grab everything for maximum score. They're placed differently in each level, though, and the movement of the cats is erratic enough that your plans may be mucked up, forcing you to compromise for lower scores. Even your best laid-out plans are in flux.
There are also a few flashing doors. When opened, they send a beam across the floor, which sweeps off everything in its path. Like Pac-Man, it's in your best interest to get enough cats together (especially the leader cat, Goro, who acts with a different AI pattern than the rest of the cats) for the most points. Goro will also occasionally hide behind items for a few seconds – if you catch him while hidden you'll score extra points, but if you're too slow, he'll pop out and kill you, guaranteed.
There's a substantial amount of depth here – both in grabbing items and luring enemies – and that's not counting the near-perfect motions you need in order to complete the bonus stages. It's the best kind of arcade game
– the better you understand the scoring strategies, the worse you may end up performing, because it's just so tempting to maximize your play, which at the same time places you in the most danger.
It's also ridiculously charming. This is one of the first arcade titles to have a soundtrack playing during the game
, plus Mappy's "death" animation is so goofy that it's almost not-too-irritating when one of the cats actually catches you. -Kurt Kalata
The only other arcade Mappy game
, Hopping Mappy, has little to do with the original and is best left forgotten. Mappy Land
, the NES sequel, expands the concept into a longer form, but it doesn't really work. The final game, Mappy Kids, is a generic 8-bit platformer.
Instead, we’re highlighting Flicky
, one of the other best, early arcade platformers. Flicky was the result of Sega’s management instructing Yoji Ishii to come up with a Mappy-killer, but the result stands very well on its own. The namesake bird has to gather all her chicks and bring them to the exit. Saving them all in one big line increases the score, but also the risk of having cats scare them away again. The jumping is floaty, and the narrow, scrolling stages wrap around, making for a uniquely crowded feel. -SD
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