The Nintendo Resolution: Manos The Hands of Fate

Manos box
Console: Steam
Start Date: June 26, 2016
End Date: June 26, 2016

The world probably doesn’t need many more retro 8-bit Mega Man homagesbut I think we can all make a little bit more room in our hearts for Manos: The Hands of Fate.  The game is, of course, based upon the 1966 movie of the same name, which achieved legendary status after being featured on one of the most well-known episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

manos start

And while there’s no shortage of parodies/homages to 8-bit gaming, Manos is the first game i can think of that specifically targets licensed movie adaptations from that era.  I have a soft spot for those games, and it’s great to see all their tropes lovingly reproduced here.  My favorite concept is the pantheon of enemies desperately culled from the film’s smallest and most incidental details, always a staple of old school licensed games.  Check out this great interview with the developer for more details about the creative process behind these ideas.

I first played Manos a couple of years ago in the form of an ipad app, and while I appreciated the concept, I can never get down with touch-screen controls for platforming games.  This is the type of game you need to play with a real controller in your hand – so when I decided to give it another chance on Steam this year, it all clicked into place, and I plowed through it in one session.

MANOS_ The Hands of Fate 6_26_2016 5_10_02 PM

Manos is a very fun game, with excellent level design.  I feel like a lot of these Mega Man homage games tend to go overboard with their difficulty levels, but Manos wisely avoids this pitfall.  It can definitely get hard, but it never gets overly frustrating or unfair.  If I have one complaint, it’s that sometimes after dying, you respawn in unfair locations.  During one particularly tricky segment, I kept respawning on this platform, where I was immediately under attack by flying eyeball monsters:

Manos bad respawn

The game’s presentation is gorgeous.  Bright, adorable sprites of the characters and enemies, and charmingly creepy backgrounds make it a pleasure to look at.  You can even choose to add a “static” filter to the game, to make it resemble a beat-up old video tape:

manos static

The soundtrack is also awesome, feature chiptune versions of the film’s ridiculous score – including the haunting Torgo’s Theme:

But the best thing about this game is that it’s absolutely overflowing with easter eggs and references.  Not only to Manos: The Hands of Fate, but also to lots of other awful movies from the MST3K catalog.  I don’t want to spoil them all for you, but here’s my favorite:

manos snakes

After just over an hour of playtime, I defeated The Master and reached the end of the game.

Manos end

Yeah the game is really short, but it’s also really fun, and absolutely worth it for MST3K fans.  Also, once you beat it, Torgo gets unlocked as a playable character!

manos play as torgo

I wish Manos: The Hands of Fate was available on a Nintendo platform, because there’s where it truly belongs.  It’s not going to steal the 8-bit homage crown from Shovel Knight, but it’s still a great little game, especially for players who are familiar with the source material.  Give it a try, won’t you?

Cave Story

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