Retro Game Guy

It's the 1980's again!


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Mappy…

Mappy is a video game designed by Namco and released in 1983.  Mappy is a side scrolling platform game featuring ‘Mappy’ the police mouse.  In Mappy, cat burglars have hidden stolen loot in their mansion and Mappy must maneuver around and recover the stolen items, while avoiding contact with the cats.

Mappy will score points for each item recovered as follows:

  • Tape player-100 points
  • Television-200 points
  • Computer-300 points
  • Painting-400 points
  • Safe-500 points

Mappy can also score points when bouncing on the trampolines, hitting a cat with a door, microwaving a cat, and retrieving a stolen item when Goro (the boss cat) is hiding behind it.  One some levels, bells will appear that can be dropped on cats for more bonus points.  Mappy can’t be harmed by the cats when bouncing on the trampoline or in the shafts of the mansion.  If Mappy jumps on a trampoline when it is red (unless there is a lower level to catch Mappy), or is touched by a cat on any of the mansion floors, he will lose a life.

Levels 3, 7, 11, and 15 are bonus rounds where Mappy must pop balloons for bonus points.  After round 15, the game loops back to the beginning.

Based on the NAMCO Super Pac-man board, the arcade unit used two Motorola 6809 CPUs with a Namco 8 channel PSG for sound.  In the U.S., Mappy was distributed by Bally-Midway and came in both upright and cocktail cabinet versions.

Mappy was ported to the Famicon (NES) in Japan, but not to any Atari systems until now.

MappyArcade

Mappy Arcade Version

Mappy for the Atari 2600…

Mappy is the latest release from Champ Games, released by AtariAge at the 2018 Portland Retro Game Expo (PRGE).  Programmed by John Champeau, with sprites by Nathan Strum, and music by Michael Haas, Mappy is an amazing game for the Atari 2600.  John also credits Darrell Spice, Jr. for the music driver and Thomas Jentzsch for code optimization and improving the logo.

Taking full advantage of CDF (the latest incarnation of DPC/DPC+) and the Melody board (designed by Fred Quimby), Mappy delivers a near arcade level experience on the Atari 2600.  Comparing John’s 2600 port to the arcade version, shows an amazing level of fidelity to the original.  Just like the original, the music is almost constant.  Only a few Atari games like Pitfall II, Stay Frosty 2, and, now, Mappy have this much music in them.

In addition to offering three levels of difficultly (that can be selected from the main menu), John takes advantage of the difficulty switches to offer random locations of loot and reduced object flicker.  He also uses the color/BW switch to allow for pause/resume of the game.  Finally, Mappy can take advantage of the Atarivox to save high scores.

Mappy comes from AtariAge with a full color box, manual, and poster.  The box and cartridge art are the work of Nathan Strum who also did a fantastic job on the manual.  The twelve page manual is printed on glossy paper and includes four pages of a Mappy comic book.

Mappy2600

Mappy for the Atari 2600

Overall Thoughts…

It probably seems like I am usually positive about the things I write about on this blog.  That’s probably a fair point as I have a tendency to write about things that I like.  This time it is a little different as I was not at all familiar with Mappy.

In fact, until last week, I hadn’t even played Mappy.  A friend showed me how the game was played on the AtariAge demo unit at PRGE and I bought a copy from AtariAge.  Turns out that I have one of the Jack’s Pacific Namco ‘Plug ‘n’ Play’ units that has Mappy on it.  In the past week, I have played Mappy on both my Atari 2600 and on my Namco unit.  Sometimes you don’t know what you are missing; Mappy is a great game and a lot of fun to play!

At PRGE, I had the opportunity to talk with John and his brother Paul.  Although John is rightfully proud of his work on Mappy, he made it a point to talk about the team effort by Mike, Nathan, Thomas, and others that was needed to make Mappy for the Atari 2600 a reality.

Like many of John’s recent releases, you have to keep reminding yourself that you are playing a 2600 game.  Mappy should be available for purchase in the AtariAge store next month.  This is one game that should be on every Atari 2600 owner’s wish list!

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Wild for Mappy!

@Atarigame guy

P.S.  Mappy plays great on Atari 7800 units as well!

 

 

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Pac-Man the series…

In my next few posts, I am going to write about Pac-Man, the spin offs, and ports to the Atari 2600 and 7800 systems.

Pac-Man…

Pac-Man is probably the most well known video game in history.  It was developed by Namco in 1979 and distributed in the United States by Midway.  In Japan (and in parts of Europe) the game was known as Puck Man.  Pac-Man was developed over a period of about eighteen months by Namco employee Toru Iwatani.  When Pac-Man was first released in Japan, it was not a hit as Space Invaders continued to dominate the arcade scene.  When Pac-Man was released in the US, everything changed.  It seemed that the American public welcomed the change from Space Invaders and the seemingly endless number of arcade space shooters.  Midway sold more than 350,000 Pac-Man arcade units and it became an even bigger hit than Atari’s Asteroids.

The game of Pac-Man is based around a pretty simple concept.  The player must control Pac-Man and have him eat all of the dots in the maze, while avoiding the ghosts.  There are four power pills (at the corners of the maze) which give Pac-Man invincibility and the ability to eat the ghosts.  Each ghost eaten is more valuable.  The ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde), which all have different personalities, get re-incarnated when their eyes return to the box at the center of the screen.  As the game progresses, the time period of invincibility becomes shorter.  Additionally, fruits appear periodically and, when eaten, give the player bonus points.

Most gamers don’t know that it is impossible to finish a Pac-Man game.  There are 256 levels, but there is a bug in the arcade ROM that prevents completion.  Normally there are seven fruits displayed across the bottom of the screen, but an error in programming causes 256 fruits to be displayed on the 256th level, destroying the right hand side of the maze.

Due to its popularity, Pac-Man was ported to almost every home console of the era including the Atari 2600, 5200, and 8-bit systems.  It was also ported to the Intellivision, NES, and Commodore 64.

Ms. Pac-Man…

Believe it or not, Ms. Pac-Man started out as Crazy Otto.  General Computer Corporation (GCC) had developed an enhancement kit for Missile Command arcade units.  This didn’t make Atari very happy and they sued GCC.  The suit was settled when GCC agreed not sell any more enhancement kits without the agreement of the original manufacturer.  GCC also agreed to collaborate with Atari on some future projects.   GCC had developed an enhancement kit for Pac-man called Crazy Otto.  Per the agreement with Atari, they were compelled to show it to Midway.  Midway ended up liking it so much that they bought it from GCC and re-worked it into what is now known as Ms. Pac-Man.

Ms. Pac-Man became a monster hit for Midway when it was released in 1982.  In fact, Ms. Pac-Man became one of the most popular arcade games of all time.  It was the first to feature a female character and Midway sold more than 100,000 Ms. Pac-Man arcade units.  Unfortunately, Midway did not obtain authorization from Namco for the development and release of Ms. Pac-Man.  Fortunately, Ms. Pac-Man was so popular that Namco did reach agreements with Midway and GCC and Ms. Pac-Mac  became an officially licensed Namco game.

Like Pac-man, Ms. Pac-Man was ported to a number of home consoles including the Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, and 8-bit systems.   It was also ported to the NES, Commodore 64, and Apple II.

 Super Pac-Man…

This is the third game in the series and, unlike Ms. Pac-Man, was actually developed by Namco.  Super Pac-Man becomes ‘super’ by eating one of the two ‘super’ pellets.  When ‘super’, he is larger, faster and can eat through doors.  When ‘super’, he is also invincible to the ghosts.  When normal, he must eat the keys which open the doors to allow him to eat the fruits.

The Super Pac-Man concept was quite a deviation from Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man and was only a moderate success.  It was also developed to run on a Motorola 6809 CPU versus the Z80’s used the the previous Pac-Man arcade units.

Due to its limited success it was only ported to the Atari 5200, but was never released by Atari.

Pac-Man Plus…

Pac-Man Plus was released by Midway in 1982 and, like Ms. Pac-Man, it was not authorized by Namco.  Pac-Man Plus is similar to Pac-Man with the biggest differences being the green (versus blue) maze and the fruits being replaced by ‘other’ objects such as beverages.  Additionally, eating a power pill sometimes causes unexpected results such as making the maze invisible or only turning three of the four ghosts blue.

Because Pac-Man Plus was released just before the ‘Video game collapse of 1983′, it was never officially ported to any home consoles.  It was reasonably popular in the arcades and, actually, outsold Super Pac-Man.

Midway also developed a Ms. Pac-Man Plus arcade system which was identical to Ms. Pac-Man, only with different mazes.

Jr. Pac-Man…

Jr. Pac-Man was another version developed by Bally Midway without permission from Namco.  Jr. was closer to the original Pac-Man format than Super Pac-Man.  The biggest change is that the maze is now twice as large and, as Jr. moves, the maze will pan across the screen horizontally.  There are also six power pills instead of four and, due to the scrolling mazes, there are no tunnels.  Jr. Pac-Man also has the added challenge of things happening off-screen.  Additionally, the toy candies (versus fruits) transform the dots and make them more valuable to eat, but they can also destroy the power pills.

Released in 1983, Jr. Pac-Man was only a moderate success.  It was ported to the Atari 2600, 5200, and 8-bit systems, but only the 2600 version was released.  Since Jr. Pac-Man was developed Bally Midway, the arcade systems run on Z80 CPU’s like Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man.

Pac-Man Aracde Systems

Pac-Man Aracde Systems

Next…

In my next post, I will write about the Atari 2600 ports of the Pac-Man series…