Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Recommended Gaming: MAME GP32

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I only ever found 1 Mappy machine in my home town, in a semi-local fish+chip shop, and it used to bug me every time I went in there. I think there was a 1941 beside it which I played to death, but during pauses in gameplay I'd have a quick scan of Mappy's attract mode to try to figure out what the hell you were supposed to do. Eventually I bit the bullet, slid a credit in and haven't looked back for the last 20 years. It's that good. As a platformer it ranks right up there with BombJack (in my opinion) for sheer playability and fun. It's one of those games that can turn a "I'm screwed!" moment into a "Sweet!" moment in the blink of an eye. And vice versa. Controls are simple: left/right joystick and open/slam door button. To clear a level you need to pick up all the treasure, consisting of safes, stereos, pictures etc. You're chased by mice and a cat. The cat can open doors from behind but the mice cannot, instead just turning around. You can open or close doors from a distance. Not a great distance, but a significant one, as you can slam doors on yourself as you're running toward them with a mouse on your heels, and the shock will knock out the mouse for a while. There are several 'microwave' doors which only you can open (again, from a distance) and which send a wave that carries all enemies off to the edge of the playfield, whereupon you'll score the points and they'll respawn in their attic. You can't jump over trampolines, you must use them. Note they change colour the more times you use them, until when red you fall right through and lose your man. As you're ascending you can go left or right to hit a floor or wall, you'll bounce back to the trampoline but it's very useful to be able to not have to bounce the full height of a shaft. Sometimes the cat will hide behind treasure. Get to it before he moves off and you'll score a nice bonus. It's tough to do but worthwhile. Get familiar with timing the slamming of doors to send mice skittling, it's the key to level progression. In later levels you'll be able to bounce right up into the attic, a useful tactic as long as you don't get cornered. From level 8 there'll be bells hanging over some shafts, bounce right up to the bell and it'll drop, taking out all enemies in the shaft. Challenge stages come up every few levels, they're self explanatory: pop all the balloons before the music stops (though you do have a tiny bit of time left after it stops). You have do do these levels perfectly to score 10,000 bonus points. If you waste any time you won't make it, so head for the cat balloon at the end as he's worth 2,000 on his own. You'll need to get good at making those short bounces off the sides on these challenge stages, or you'll waste time. You can see where you need to do it by the sides being slightly extended upwards to give you room to hit them, so you can break through the trampoline to get to the balloon below.
Mappy is a fantastic platformer, and with a little practice you should be able to get beyond level 10. You'll find it in the Namco folder of MameGP32, it runs best with no sound and frameskip >=2, but if you can handle the mildly jerky framerate run it with sound so you can hear the music during the challenge stages.

Reviewed by: Alyinsanfran


Blogger BobBorakovitz said...

Whoa! two in one day? You're on a roll, alan! Mappy is a lot of fun, and mmmmm...bombjack :)

Thu Jun 30, 12:00:00 AM EDT  

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