Manos: The Hands of Fate (universal) by FreakZone Games is another retro title from the developers of Awesome Land. Utilizing color palettes of ancient consoles and the plot of a terrible old movie, Manos is a heartfelt homage to the movie tie-in games of yesteryear.
First off, there are no menus, modes, or options in Manos – opening the app is like popping a cartridge into an old NES system, taking players to the main menu and then right into the first level. And like those older games, there are no save points, game maps, or consumable IAP: Manos is platforming at its most retro and hardcore, boiling away the excess fluff to give it that stripped down, authentic NES feel.
Now anyone familiar with Mystery Science Theatre 3000 will remember Manos: The Hands of Fate, a terrible film from the 1960s about a haunted house, pagan sacrifices, and cults. Most of that story is stripped away – much like the old video game tie-ins for games like Nightmare on Elm Street 20 years ago – although heavily referenced in the game’s art and dialogue, which opens each level with an iconic phrase or moment from the film.
And as a platformer, Manos is a ball to play. Players use a virtual joypad to move, jump and shoot the weird collection of enemies found throughout the game. The levels are a blend of Castlevania and Mega Man, with the intricate, multi-platform levels of the former, and the pixellated side-scrolling shooting action of the latter. Thankfully, the controls work terrific, though the ‘authentic’ inability to shoot while moving can cause some frustrating deaths at times.
The game’s visuals could be a turn off for some, but the extreme color palettes and contrast blends perfectly with the game’s other aesthetics. The visuals were built specifically to adhere to the visual limits of the original NES, albeit with some particularly smooth and modern-looking player animation. And to no surprise, the game’s music is a catchy collection of chiptunes retro gaming fans will really dig, to fully round out the old-school experience.
Manos: The Hands of Fate (universal) is a spot-on homage to movie games of yesteryear, bringing its own style of run and gun gameplay to a painstakingly detailed retro experience. This is a must-buy not only for older gamers who remember the days of rectangle controllers and paddles, but for any platforming fan with an iOS device.