Game Review: Manic Miner
A long, long time ago, music and video games didn’t really get along. This was especially true for the ZX Spectrum- until the likes of Manic Miner came to town. If you’re familiar with the song In the Hall of the Mountain King, then you’ll probably recognize it in Manic Miner, albeit a more broken sounding version… The reason for that is because the song in Manic Miner is alternating the CPU between the music and the game itself. So what does this have to do with my review? Well recently, Manic Miner was re-released on the XBLIG for cheap- is it worth your money? Read on.
Let’s be honest- this isn’t the prettiest game you can get on the XBLIG- the graphics are (very) aged. I’m a pretty terrible artist, but in all honest, I could create better visuals. I felt kind of strange using all the power of my Xbox 360 for such an old game, because while ordinarily I find some charm in old, blocky graphics, Miner just isn’t VVVVVV. This game’s a re-release, not an HD remake. That said, if this were 1983, I’d say that the graphics are pretty decent for a Speccy title, so I’m not going to dwell too harshly on them. In fact, if you were to consider what had to go into the game, it’s pretty good graphically- for 1983. What I do like about the graphics is that they’re just so bright and cheerful- the game just has a happy quality to it. They’re actually pretty trippy, come think of it.
As for gameplay, it’s pretty simple- but that’s not to say it’s easy. This game is, at it’s essence, the platformer, and you spend much of your time leaping and praying, because the slightest miscalculation will cost you a life. You see, there’s no turning around in mid-air in this game. Touch an enemy once? You’re dead. A spike? Fatality. A toxic plant? It was nice knowing you, buddy. And it’s very easy to make a mistake- this game is unforgiving. Fortunately for us spoiled modern gamers, there’s a “cheat” mode in this version that allows you unlimited lives. So as you jump from platform to platform, you collect keys that unlock a door at the end of each level- a door that you have to backtrack your way to. I’ll be honest- platformers today have spoiled me. Manic Miner makes Super Meat Boy look easy. If you’re up for a challenge, you might want to check this game out.
As for the game’s music, the choppy rendition of In the Hall of the Mountain King initially has great potential to drive you completely and utterly mad, but it grows on you after a while. Again, looking back, this was considered amazing. Something that I never quite got used to was the game’s opening theme- a really messed-up sounding version of the Blue Danube Waltz. While I could never quite love it, the main theme that plays throughout the whole game was slightly annoying at worst, but kind of catchy at best.
So what’s the point of buying this game? History, really. If you’re interested in playing a classic game for either nostalgia or simply for the sake of knowing it, you’re going to want to give it a shot. If you’re looking to be challenged, then you’re definitely going to want to at least try Manic Miner. Otherwise, however, you might not get much enjoyment out of it.