Game Reviews

Manos: The Hands of Fate

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Manos: The Hands of Fate

Being an American man in the vicinity of 30 years old, I played Manos: The Hands of Fate in the grip of nostalgia, powered by a love of its two sources of inspiration: Castlevania on the NES and the original Manos TV show.

If you've never experienced either, you might not understand what's going on with Manos: The Hands of Fate. Thankfully, it doesn't trade entirely on its nostalgia credentials - clueless or not, you’ll probably have a great time playing it.

Everything about Manos: The Hands of Fate harks back to late '80s NES games with unabashed retro glee. Its splashscreen is a tribute to early Nintendo box-art, its music is a great bit of looping chip-tune, and its difficulty is downright punishing.

Thankfully, in a welcome deviation from the game's retro roots, this difficulty is not the result of poor controls. The controls are crisp and responsive as you jump, shoot, and explore the Valley Lodge and fight against the polygamous pagan cultists you discover there.

Torgo wobbles, but he won't fall down

As you play through Manos: The Hands of Fate you're going to experience some frustration.

The endlessly bouncing glass bottles in the first level (tossed by a pair of canoodling teenagers) will almost certainly kill you repeatedly. Try as you might, you'll squander your generous supply of extra lives before you know what's happening.

But - after a suitable period of calming decompression away from your iOS device - you'll come back to Manos later and realise that you can now negotiate the pattern of hurled bottles with ease. Then it's on to the next challenge.

The sense of accomplishment this brings is immense. A password system or save state would have been nice, but in the spirit of capturing the gruelling difficulty of '80s NES games Manos makes you start from the beginning every time.

Even so, Manos is a solid - if at times frustrating - platformer that captures the better parts of games like Castlevania II and Bionic Commando and updates them with more responsive controls. It provides a firm and difficult challenge throughout, and delivers a mobile experience that recalls the early days of 8-bit gaming in all the right ways.

Manos: The Hands of Fate

A fun retro platforming adventure that faithfully represents '80s gaming with a crisp modern polish
Matthew Diener
Matthew Diener
Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.