I've recently had quite a few good experiences with NES games released by the TAXAN company. From the solid shmup-ing of Star Soldier, to the childish-looking overworld and mind-boggling dungeons of Mystery Quest, culminating with the subject of today's article...
At first glance, it seems to be an un-remarkable 3-screen-wide mouse-and-cheese-gathering-em-up game. It's not quite a side-scrolling Super Mario Bros.-style platformer, but it's definitely something that old 1-screen games like the NES's Popeye might aspire to be when they grew up:
"I'm at best mediocre, cuz I eats me okra!"
How's it work -- a.k.a., a Road Map to Mappy-Land:
Basically you have to gather a set number of items in each level, while avoiding a variety of cats. You can also defend yourself with a finite number of distraction-items, or several one-use tricks or traps scattered around the level.
But the most noteworthy game mechanic is trampolines, which allow you to bounce from floor to floor:
They're good for transportation, but another big benefit of the trampolines is, during your trampoline ride, you're invulnerable to cats. Evidently the joys of jumping several stories in the air are such that they can't bring themselves to eat you.
Anyway, your goal in each level is to collect all of a specific kind of item. For example, in most of the first iteration of the game, you're after cheese:
Once you've caught them all (as indicated by the count-down on the top right corner of the screen) you can usually exit by going through the gate at the level's far right edge:
Sounds okay...but where's the Nintendo Logic?
There's lots of fun themed levels -- as you've seen above, some levels are about Trains, or the Ol' West, but the 9-level loop features other exotic locals, like...
"Tiki" Villages and Tropical Islands,
then Pirate Ships (though you'd think that might appear before the Island stuff)
And on to Haunted Graveyards and Castles,
(though between the graveyard and the castle, for some reason you're on a confusing detour to an upscale neighborhood)
And what's Mappy's globe-trotting, cheese-collecting goal?
If you win the last level in time, you and your pink mouse love-interest celebrate,
"Just what I always wanted -- 'BONUS 10000 PTS'!"
But if you take too long?
No Bonus for you, and you have to try the final level again.
Then it loops around, and you play again, this time with DIFFERENT collectable items and more enemies:
So far, so standard, right?
Well, what really surprised me about Mappy-Land was...
It breaks two of Nintendo of America's rules of censorship -- it features:
references to alcohol
and religious imagry
So there are a lot of crosses in the Haunted Level's graveyard, but to be fair, graves with crosses appeared in a number of games.
But what's more surprising is that you have to collect keys to get into the church, THEN you have to pick up the BIG cross inside the church, which you then use to ward off the Vampire Cat:
Left to right: Without the Power of Christ — WITH the Power of Christ.
They've since raised the bar on censorship...
As innocuous as it might seem to acknowledge that "Bars" existed in the old west, I can think of a number of games in the Super Nintendo era which are chock-full of CAFE-s, CLUB-s etc, but nary a BAR to be seen:
These gaudy coffee shops, located in the dangerous part of town, must serve a mean latte!
And they usually censor the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of it!
Nintendo of America is also known for removing Crucifixes/Churches/Religious References:
Even Castlevania's Dracula didn't have to face a crucifix! As we all know, those are of course "boomerangs" (weird, cross-shaped boomerangs)
Sometimes they just edit out the specific words,
Or sometimes they remove it altogether:
Final Fantasy, American version: The Health Clinic
Final Fantasy, Japanese version: The Greek Orthadox Church is here for all your FIGHTER and B.MAGE ressurection needs!
So how did Mappy-Land get away with this back in 1988?
It's hard to say, really. What was it about Mappy's cheese-eating grin that melted the hearts or blinded the eyes of the Nintendo of America censorship board? Was it his wholesome blue overalls? Maybe his Mickey-like good looks, or his confusing name?
Or, could it be...
— carlmarksguy, 2014-06-20