When I was standing in the shower this morning with the background jingle to this game playing in my head, I knew that this week’s Throwback Thursday entry was going to be about none other than everyone’s favorite miniature mouse-cop, Mappy. Sadly, we will not be discussing the GPS devices in the UK and elsewhere that have been branded with the name Mappy (yes, that actually exists, and now I want one).
Mappy is the classic quintessential game of cat and mouse, which is probably why its simple, fast-paced style gameplay formula is still jut as fun to play today as it was when it came out 29 years ago. You take control of Mappy, the cute little mouse cop from the Micro Police. Your mission: To infiltrate a giant, 6-story house that is filled with thieving cats, who have been pilfering some of the most sought after goods from the early 80s; like small white radios with multicolored buttons, huge tube TVs with that oh-so-modern wooden finish, and state-of-the-art computers that boast storage capacities of like, 3MB and a lightning fast 64KB processor! I think someone duped these feline felons though, because they also have a seemingly endless amount of identical paintings that look just like the Mona Lisa. Forgeries, man…forgeries. They were however smart enough to steal a bunch of safes, which hopefully they are actually able to open.
Once inside, you progress through each stage in an attempt to retrieve the stolen loot, but watch out! Hot on Mappy’s tail, are the pink cat-thief grunts, the Mewkies, er, Meowkies, as we say here in America! Our cats make their sounds with an ‘o’ here! You will also have be on the lookout for the big boss cat, Nyamko! Err, wait, that’s right, he’s called Goro here in the good ole US of A. You know, I never understood why names of characters got changed so often back in the day when they made their transition from Japan the western world. OK, maybe people wouldn’t immediately catch that the name Nyamko is a clever pun which combines the onomatopoeia of a cat meowing in Japanese (“Nyan”) with the name of the company who made the game, Namco. C’mon westerners, you need to start brushing up on your Japanese onomatopoeia for cats! Sheesh…
Say it with me now, “Nyam-ko”, “Nyamko”. Good.
Anywho, the objective of the game is rather simple: Retrieve as much of the stolen loot as you possibly can before the kitty cats get you. For the most part, Mappy is essentially defenseless, despite the fact that he holds a standard Micro Police issued baton. He has to cleverly utilize his environment in order to escape danger, and he can do so one of two ways. First, since you ascend to different levels of the house via trampolines, he can time his jumps well to dip out onto a different floor than his pursuers. Although they do get smarter as the round goes on, this can be a good way of giving them the slip. The other way to escape danger is by swinging open doors straight into the kissers of those who wish to devour him. If you open the door at the right second, it will knock the kitties over and stun them for a few seconds. There are also magical shiny glowing doors that emit a wave that will catch any Mewkie or Nyamko cat in their path and send them off screen. If timed correctly, you can wipe out all of your pursuers, and force them to re-enter the stage one at a time through the top of the screen.
Fun fact: If you pick up an item while Nyamko is hiding behind it, you get bonus points!
To change things up, every few rounds you will be treated to a bonus stage in which Mappy has to bounce and maneuver through a maze of trampolines in a balloon collecting frenzy in order to collect some sweet bonus points. This is where you can really pick up some big bonus points in your pursuit to get the high score for the day.
If you can find a Mappy arcade machine nowadays, you’re most certainly a lucky duck! But fear not, there are plenty of ways to can play this game in this day and age filled with compilation discs. Mappy is featured on Namco Museum Vol. 2 for the Playstation 1 and Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Collection for Xbox, Gamecube, and Playstation 2 for home systems. For those who want some Mappy goodness on the go, it can be found on Namco Museum DS for the Nintendo DS and Namco Museum Battle Collection for the PSP.
Just for fun, next time you play Mappy, as the background jingle consistently repeats itself, place these lyrics over the jingle, and I guarantee that they will be stuck in your head during every subsequent play-through.
I’m a little mouse cap, running through a maze
Here come all the cat thieves to steal my microwaves
Mona Lisa Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa Mona Lisa
Oh crap! It’s a door!
Ba dum bum