MANOS: The Hands of Fate review
A Retro Game That's As Good As The Rest
+ Simple controls
+ Challenging boss fights
+ Great level design
+ Great graphics that look just like an old NES game
+ Good storyline that follows an old 1960's horror film of the same name
- No telling what objects are in the background or foreground
- Very little grace-time after being hit; once you're hit, you're prone to taking more damage
Release Date: July 26th, 2012
Developer: FreakZone Games
MANOS: The Hands of Fate caught my eye on the iTunes App Store, from the game cover and the game cover alone. Of course, it looks like an old NES boxart. I didn't do any research on the game, I just went off instinct alone and purchased it. As expected, the game looked and played like an old NES game. However, what I didn't realize is that this was a horror game based off of an old 1960's film.
Surprised by that, it only drove me to want to play the game more. MANOS: The Hands of Fate is literally a retro gamer's go-to game. It has simple controls like the old Super Mario games, it has gun-upgrades like the old Contra games, it has some great level design like the old Castlevania games, and it has challenging boss fights like the old Zelda/Metroid games.
There are five buttons that appear on the bottom of your screen: Left, Right, Pause, B, and A. Left and right will move your character either way, pause will pause the game, B will shoot your character's gun, and A will jump. The controls are nice. Jumping from ledge to tiny ledge in this game wasn't as challenging as one would assume. The only downside is that there are no Up or Down button to crouch in this game. No crouching can be a pain, because there are enemies that are too small to shoot in this game. Which leads me to my first downside of this great game.
A lot of things in this game just seem to be trial-and-error; there are no ways of knowing beforehand. Can you jump on an enemy like in Super Mario? Nope, you have to use your gun. If you touch an enemy, even by jumping, you're going to take damage. Even at that, there are still some enemies that won't die no matter how many times you shoot them with your gun. Whereas the graphics in this game are great, and could easily fool anyone as being a port of an old NES game, there's no way to tell what is in the background or the foreground. Sometimes there's a ledge you think you can jump on, but you can't. Sometimes there's a torch in the background, seemingly, but if you touch it you're going to take damage.
You can jump on the vending machine, but not the couch.
As far as the health system goes, you start off with six bars of health. When you lose all of your health, your character turns into an angel, and flies off the screen, and you have to start from a checkpoint. You initially have four lives to play with, and until you get used to the game, you will burn through all of your lives fairly quick. Once you lose all of your lives, it's game over - you have to start from the beginning of the game.
Luckily, this game is very generous with health and 1-ups. Some of the 1-ups are hidden, and in tough places to get to, so if you're not careful, you're going to end up losing a life trying to get to it. There are white gloves/hands in this game. Once you get it, a message appears on your screen saying that you have found "The Hand of Fate". Collecting these does nothing but replenish your health; so far, I've noticed no other use for collecting these. There are also gun power-ups throughout the levels, which will change how your gun shoots. Power-ups, however, are temporary. Odds are your power-up will run out before you make it to the end of the level.
One of the many challenging boss fights in this game.
Boss fights in this game are challenging. The second boss fight is a face on a wall, with two hands, that shoots fire ball at you. Dodge the fire balls, and shoot the face, eventually you'll win. It sounds easy, but there's three torches on the screen as well you have to avoid; touching them does damage to your character. Thankfully, if you do happen to lose a life during a boss fight, whatever damage you do to the boss remains there when you go back to fight for a second time. When you get to a boss fight, the screen will move automatically (and lock in place so you can't move off-screen during a boss fight), and push your character along with it, which can lead you to death or to taking damage, which is also a pain.
Overall, this is a great take on a retro game. Whereas it does have it's downsides, it will actually make you feel like you're playing an old NES game. It's frustrating at times, it's challenging, has a great storyline to follow, and a lot of levels that all differ in variety to keep things fresh. Whereas it does have it's downsides, this is definitely a game worth picking up.