Manos… the HANDS of Fate….

Never in my days would I have ever thought that I would write a review of the best worst movie I’ve ever seen. I’m so happy right now.

A little run-down about Manos: It’s a 1966 film that a fertilizer salesman made on a bet. A family gets lost on vacation and ends up visiting a hotel sort of thing run by the supposed satyr Torgo and his mysterious Master. Along the way, the family’s dog gets killed, there’s a lot of standing around, a couple inexplicably makes out a few miles down the road during the entire movie, the Master’s multiple wives get into a few catfights, more of that crazy Torgo, and I guess it resolves in some way or another. Hell, it just does, and you have to accept that.

Forgotten until Mystery Science Theater 3000 brought a whole new audience to it, it’s the only film that Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank actually apologized for showing, it’s so bad.

But they just released a video game about this oddball of a film. And how is it?

It’s actually really good.

No. Seriously.

The game is set in the style of a NES game, one of those multiple licensed titles that was made for pretty much every cartoon, TV show, and movie that reigned during that time period. If it was a licensed property in the 1980’s and 1990’s, you could find it on your NES. Fortunately, the strongest feature that this game has going for it is that it wasn’t made by LJN.

It’s a side scrolling platformer that is set most reminiscent of the Castlevania games, but I detected a hint of Super Mario Bros. and even a little Goonies II in there. What’s amazing is that the game actually follows the, er, plot(?) of the movie, given a few creative licenses (though admittedly, fighting Torgo in a biplane would have been a vast improvement in the film). There are a ton of nods to MST3K fans throughout the game, and you are well reminded that you are playing a game based on Manos: The Hands of Fate.

Honestly, I’m in shock. The game looks great. Someone actually took time to create all the graphical landmarks of the film, but make nods to other films that Joel and the Bots ripped into. The enemies make sense in context of the world. The making out couple is there. The moths that plagued the poor lighting issues are there. They used every bizarrely laughable element of the movie and worked into decent context of the game.

The sound? They used the soundtrack from the movie. Even the incidental music. I played knowing all of these utterly ridiculous music tracks, as they were completely spot-on. Manos is largely known for one track: As Crow put it, “The haunting ‘Torgo Theme'”.

You don’t know the “Torgo Theme”?!? Let me remedy that for you:

Feel the terror of four monotone notes! The Master supplied Torgo with this majestic theme, as only The Master would see fit (who is always watching, by the way).

And to be honest, I don’t like touchscreen games due for their wonky controls. And when most people design platformers, they almost always feel “floaty”. Even a lot of actual NES games just made simple platform jumping a chore. Clearly, someone on this staff remembered those games… and hated that as much as I did. The controls are responsive, and it doesn’t feel like guess/pray work to land a jump. It does what you want it to do, which is impressive without a controller. Still, that lack of tactile sensation makes play more difficult than it should, as I lost more lives fighting that bird boss because my finger kept slipping off the jump button. A game that’s actually this responsive deserves a controller, and I would buy it again if it came to a console.

For $1.99 this is about as good as it gets for old-school platforming on the iPad/iPhone. It even gets Torgo’s stuttery gait down perfectly (“Y’know, Torgo wobbles, but he won’t fall down”). It simultaneously pains and pleases me (exactly like the movie), but I absolutely have to recommend this game. The only thing that would make it better is a controller, but this is a solid title… even if the actual movie is a serious pile of poop.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tagged with:

Filed under: apple gamingindie gamesipad gamingiphone gamingpost-script