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Mappy (Champ Games)


DoctorSpuds

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It’s Homebrew time! And what game to pick? There are so many of them… How about Mappy! By all rights a game like Mappy should not work on the 2600, there is just no way somebody could fit such a large and complicated arcade game into a tiny 2600 cartridge, anybody who’d try that would be a bona fide madman. Well, there seems to be a madman in our midst because Mappy was ported to the 2600 and wouldn’t you believe it, they somehow made it better. A small team of programmers, designers and artists are responsible for bringing this masterpiece of programming to life, and they are:

·         John W. Champeau

·         Nathan Strum

·         Mike Haas

·         Darrel Spice Jr.

·         Thomas Jentzsch

You guys are absolute wizards!

I personally never understood the obsession with Mappy, I always thought it was a rather mediocre arcade game with an abstract premise and confusing gameplay… Until I played it. In Madison there is a local pizzeria and arcade called Rossi’s and they just so happened to get a Mappy machine in one day. According to the owner, people from all over the city and even from out of county flocked in to get a turn at Mappy, and considering the high score was set on the first day of it being available to play that means that this game is serious business. I got my turn at it and after a little while of figuring the game out I got the hang of it, I wasn’t any good at it but I could still recognize and excellently put together game when I saw one, so I of course was real excited when the 2600 port was announced by Champ Games, and well, here it is!

 

The graphics are astonishing; every care was made in making the port looks as much like the arcade game as possible. Every character is accounted for, every collectible, every bit of the environment was scaled down and implemented. Due to the crazy amount of stuff on the screen there is some noticeable flicker, but when taking into account the sheer number of things happening at once, on and off scree, it is more than acceptable. Intro and in-game cutscenes have also been added, and there’s even a handy attract mode if you spend too much time on the start menu with a roll call of Mappy and the various goons he’s up against as well as the high score roster featuring the initials of the development team. The only reason I’m not going into extreme detail is because the game must be seen to be believed. Unfortunately I’m sure that the sounds have to have been cut back to account for the 2600’s rather lackluster sound capabilities, I expect disappointment.

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I no longer expect disappointment. Mappy 2600 uses a Melody board which allows the programmers to take advantage of an included DPC or DPC+ chip, like the one seen in Pitfall II, to allow for high quality multi channel music to be implemented into the game. The music, much like the graphics, is virtually one-to-one to the arcade game. You’ve never heard sounds this good come out of a 2600.

 

The gameplay. Mappy is a difficult game to explain, it defies explanation, but I’ll try anyway. You are a mouse police officer who must catch literal cat burglars who have stolen a variety of household items like safes, TV’s, and illegal forgeries of the Mona Lisa. Instead of using stairs like a normal person you use trampolines to access all seven floors of the building, but you can’t bounce on them for too long otherwise they’ll snap and you’ll lose a life. Also spread throughout the building are doors which may be opened or closed, you can open a door in a cat’s face to knock them down, or close a door behind you to cut your pursuers off. You’ll so notice some rainbow flashing doors, these are booby trapped doors that will shoot a bolt of electricity out in the direction it was opened, if it hits a cat they will be ‘removed’ from  the stage for a brief moment before returning. This game is very difficult, mainly because of how helpless you actually are, if you are surrounded by cats, which is surprisingly easy, there is nothing you can do and you’ll lose a life. Despite the difficulty there are no cheap deaths, only the shortsightedness of the player will lead to lost lives, you have to keep track of every cat, and where they are. There are some concessions made though, if you are in the act of jumping on/onto a trampoline you are immune from the cats. Seriously there is so much in this game that if I keep going on about it this review would turn into a lecture.

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I struggle to find anything negative to say about this game, the simple fact that it exists at all is amazing enough. Since I’m a wimp I only play on the novice setting but even that poses a good enough challenge for me. If you want to buy Mappy, you can find it on the AtariAge store for 55 dollars in NTSC and PAL60 flavors, there is no reason why you shouldn’t this game CIB, the whole packing is more than worth it. No Collector’s Zone today, if that wasn’t obvious enough.

 

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Thank you so much for your review of Mappy, I'm so glad that you are enjoying playing the game as much as we had making it! :)  

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