When a 16 year-old Mathew Smith took his bed room creation Manic Miner to Bug Byte, he was told by a lead programmer there (Eugene Evans) that "It won't work". Little did Evans know that 19 years later and 2 million copies after, the Granddaddy of all platform games has been remade for the Granddaddy of all handhelds! Miner Willy is back with a vengeance, and a big sigh to all the older (and younger) GBA gamers
Manic Miner is arguably THE father of all platform games after it, it featured continuous music, 20 FULL SCREEN levels and flicker free animation with a good difficulty curve (all gendre-defying on the humble 48k spectrum). Gameplay was simple, navigate minor Willy through a series of caverns before he runs out of air, with pixel-perfect jump precision and timing. This is what gaming is all about, 1 single screen that is cram full of fun. As simple as it may seem, Manic Miner is a very enjoyable game. I still remember playing it for ages on my 48k and now this remake does the classic more than justice.
The game features both the classic version and the upgraded version. The classic features all twenty original levels (including the notoriously difficult Eugene's layer, named after Evans above), with the exact feeling but better graphics of our original. The updated version features more levels, more difficulties, and essentially more abilities (ladders/lifts etc).
So how does it all play? well Willy has to collect the various keys scattered around each level (screen) and reach the exit, while avoiding long drops and the enemies (wierd ones at that), all in the time space of his dwendling air supply. The sense of pressure is on all the time, with no space for mistakes at all. Reach the exit and you're on to the other screen, and believe me they do get really hard (it was rumoured that the amiga version was so difficult it could not be beaten!).
Willy looks great, and so does everything else! The backgrounds of this game are beautiful and atmospheric. Being a 2D platform game graphics are hard to come by, but Jester have done a great job and keeping the feel of the original with the graphics of this age. The caverns also side scroll which is a new feature also. All in all above par graphics on our little screen
Some might be disappointed by the sounds in this game, as it is also a remake of the original. Back in 83 when a character made an electronic crescendo sound each time it jumped, that was considered phenomenal. Nowadays it might sound plain noisy. The music is alot better than the tweeps of the spectrum, but also remains strictly to the original (with the famous "In the Halls of the Mountain King" always playing in the background to add to the fever). The music appeals only to the retro players that know the original though (As me for example)
Manic Miner is an absolute must. It is totally addictive and totally playable. No complex orders/commands/controls, no plot to follow, just get Willy to the exit as fast as possible. Gameplay has never been so good and will never be, a basic simple classic that gave birth to all platformers beyond it, Nintendo should be proud that one of their consoles has been graced by this classic. This is your best chance to find out what everyone was talking about, miss it and you've just slipped the chance on one of the biggest pieces of gaming history. A definite buy!