MappyLand was one of my favorite games as a little kid. And I must’ve been super little – since I would have only been 5 years old at the release of this game.
It plays a lot like Mario Bros. in that you run, jump, and climb your way through the levels. You play as a cute mouse collecting items in each level to give to his girlfriend while avoiding and distracting all of the cats. – Although simple, it is a cute concept, which is maybe why it appealed to me so much when I was little.
Genre: Platformer / Mascot Game
Release Date: 1986
Platform: 8Bit NES (Also now available on the Wii U E-store)
Where to Buy: You can still find plenty of copies on Amazon, where Mappyland sales for $6-12 bucks depending on the condition of the game, case, and booklets. Or you can get Mappyland in the Wii-U E-shop for $4.99
56 / 80 70% C- “Good Game for Girls”
Concept: 8/10 As mentioned, I loved the concept of playing as a cartoon-style mouse collecting items for his girlfriend and tricking cats. It played very similar to Mario, except you can’t jump on the enemies. It’s been awhile, but I also (think that I) remember a password feature that was used to track the progress of the levels instead of a save feature. (It’s been years since my last visit to Mappyland, so maybe I’m wrong there.) It’s a cute and colorful family friendly game with adorable characters and gameplay that’s simple enough to just pick up and play at any time.
Gameplay: 9/10 Mappyland has some interesting game mechanics. Most notably, it has a story, however, the story is randomized and not told in a specific order. There’s also way fewer “stories” than there are game levels, which means you’ll see the same stories multiple times. (Just how many times is he going to marry his girlfriend, and how many fricken birthdays is she going to have? LOL).
But aside from that quirk, there are about 8 different “power ups” that Mappy can equip and then fire off at the cats, each with varying degrees of success. You can also just run and jump to avoid their attacks. It’s an item-centric game – just like Sonic collects gold rings, or mario collects coins, each “story” has a different item that you’re trying to collect. You’re required to collect all of the designated items to proceed to the next level.
There are also numerous traps that can hurt you – however, you can lure the cats over the traps as well which will help you to slow them down.
The level designs themselves were not that challenging – I beat this game when I was probably 7 years old lol. But the level designs were fun. The level I most distinctively remember had Mappy riding aboard a run-away train. You’re also being timed which can add an extra layer of difficulty to some of the levels. Similar to NiGHTS (which I reviewed the Christmas version of here), once your time is up you will be chased by an invincible enemy who you will need to avoid if you want to pass to the next level.
Story: 5/10 The story that is present is cute – but they could have done more – like write enough stories to match the number of different levels so you don’t see the same 3 or 4 stories over and over. The story is adorable but very childlike and simplistic – but hey, most games were that way back then, because of the target audience, but also because of limitations of the hardware at the time, only able to hold small amounts of text, etc.
Characters: 8/10 – It’s true there’s no back story, no real character interaction, no real character development — but still, the characters, and enemies are incredibly cute and charming. If you like cute and kawaii games, this game is worth playing just for cute overload alone.
Graphics: 6/10 Mappy’s character and level designs are cute – however, it’s an 8 bit game; there’s just not much detail that can go into them. Also I feel like the character sprites are too “large” and look a bit out of place. I also feel that similar games, such as the original Mario Bros was more “clean” and less “blocky” looking – once again I know that’s the nature of most 8 bit games, but the proportion and color palette used were maybe to blame for the game looking a bit “muddy” and not quite as crisp and clean as Mario and other 8 bit platformer games. However, when you look at games like Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Burger Time, and etc, which mostly just had black blank backgrounds, the level of attention given to creating unique and fun environments for each level of Mappyland is pretty good!
Music: 5/10 Not memorable, and of course limited by the technology available in 1986. However, it is catchy, although repetitive, and if you like retro games and retro music you may like this. Most of the music is fast/cheerful which fits well with the cute graphics.
Replay Value: 8/10 – Due to the random story/level pairings, new items to find each time you play, and just overall fun factor, I would say this is a game you probably will replay a few times, even if for nothing else other than nostalgia or cute factor. The simplistic gameplay mechanics make it easy to jump in and pick up at any time. It could also be interesting for speed runs, if you’re into that sort of thing due to each level being timed.
56 / 80 70% C- “Good Game for Girls”
Also I just learned that this was originally an arcade game in Japan – and even more interesting, there’s a 13 episode 2012 anime series (Mappy: The Beat) based on Mappy Land. It is a comedic anime which features other lovable Namco characters but stars Mappy in the spotlight. And there’s numerous Mappy Land games – sadly never translated to English, including “Mappy Land Kids” which is a sequel to Mappy Land. — I wish we had more Mappy in North America!