Manic Miner 360

Let’s travel back to 1983.  It was a dark time in the world.  A time when people lived in fear of communism, nuclear annihilation, and Walter Mondale.  A time when kids had to play their Ataris in three feet of snow, and do their math homework using solar-powered calculators like savages instead of their cell phones.  A time when the most high-tech consoles had “vision” in them instead of “box” or “station.”  A time when “playing with your Wii” sounded like a shameful act, as opposed to today where.. nevermind.  Most importantly to me, it was a time where I wasn’t born yet.  Thus, I’m not particularly nostalgic for what the early 80s had to offer.

Party like it’s 1983! Let’s all freebase cocaine and watch Knight Rider!

So Manic Miner 360, an XBLIG port of a 1983 ZX Spectrum game, isn’t something that would make me get all warm and gushy.  My reader base might feel otherwise.  Oddly enough, the average reader of Indie Gamer Chick tends to be about ten years older than I am.  In a way, I’m tickled pink over that.  I mean, it’s pretty cool that so many older people are interested in what I, some snooty little shit who wasn’t weened on Space Invaders and text-based RPGs, thinks about gaming.  On the other hand, it can be a bit of a curse at times, especially when it comes to nostalgic releases like this.  When I started to complain about the flaky controls and unforgiving design, I was immediately hit with several “it was good back in the day” tweets.  Somehow, I’m guessing a response of “this isn’t back in the day!  It’s today!” won’t be a sufficient explanation for why I’m not having fun.

I guess there’s no point in debating whether people who liked this game thirty years ago will still enjoy it today.  They obviously do.  I do question whether they really enjoy it on the same level they did as kids.  You mean to tell me that all the evolution gaming has gone through in 30 years doesn’t change your perception of Manic Miner?  Look, I can’t see things your way on this.  Without the perspective of nostalgia, I kind of have to take games like this on face value.  It controls like shit.  Movement and jumping are very stiff.  The levels are frustrating.  The game centers around “gotcha” game design, where you can’t possibly know about a hidden trap until it activates.  Manic Miner isn’t really a platformer or a punisher.  It’s a trial-and-error memory test.  Each level typically has one specific path that you have to follow, and enemies have predictable patterns that you have to memorize.  Once you have that shit down, it’s just a matter of keeping it all together and fighting with the abysmal controls.  Some people liked it.  A few people told me they knew of people who could beat it without the infinite lives cheat (which is thankfully built-in and optional).  Yea, that is impressive.  So is being able to fart the Star-Spangled Banner on command, but I don’t want to take the time to learn how to do it.

Mind you, I’m told this is a truly faithful port, so if you loved the broken controls and restrictive design thirty years ago, nothing has changed here.  Same graphics, same sound effects, same clunky jumping, same dick-moves.  For some people, that’s all they want.  This is a game made for them.  Can a new audience from my generation get behind this game?  Some weirdos might, in the same way there are people my age that have Pac-Man tattoos and dress like Don Johnson.  I’m not saying everything from the 80s was terrible.  I can’t think of anything that wasn’t off the top of my head, but I’m sure there’s something from that decade didn’t suck.

After beating a level that featured things that were certainly not Pac-Man, I entered a stage that featured something that was definitely not Donkey Kong.

I know it’s aggravating for older people to have to listen to people my age say intolerant, obviously erroneous statements like “everything from the 80s sucked.”  The 80s probably didn’t suck any more or less than the 90s or whatever the fuck the last decade was called.  Did anyone ever come to a consensus on the name for the last decade?  If not, may I suggest the Goobers.  No reason why, I just think that would be funny.  My point is, nostalgia is whatever you make of it.  Like any form of entertainment, one Indie Gamer Chick’s trash is another geriatric’s treasure.  Maybe people my age need re-releases like Manic Miner to show us whippersnappers just how lucky we are.  Lucky that we didn’t grow up in an era where games had bad control inputs, shoddy design level design, load times of six minutes, install times upwards of hours and, uh, nevermind.

Manic Miner 360 was developed by Elite Systems

240 Microsoft Points should have probably been 80 Microsoft Points instead in the making of this review.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

10 Responses to Manic Miner 360

  1. That was a good Wii joke! The 80s have to be the worst decade in the history of HISTORY!! Slow and ugly cars, bad music, bad movies, bad hair, bad clothes… I’m actually embarrassed to have been born in the 80s.

  2. Steve Tack says:

    I’m an old fart gamer, but I have little nostalgia. Except for maybe Galaga, gaming in the 80’s *was* kind of ass. It’s what we had and was cool for the time, but now? No way.

    Lots of movies from the 80’s weren’t terrible things: Raiders, Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Die Hard, Star Trek II, Predator, The Terminator. Metallica and Nine Inch Nails were pretty non-terrible back then too.

    But games? Yeah. Ass.

    • I was born in July of 1989, but I think I’ve since shook the stink of what little bit of that decade I was dipped in off of me. And Raiders of the Lost Ark is probably my favorite movie of all time so I’ll let it slide.

  3. I’m lucky I’m not as old as all of you, I had the joyful experience of growing up with GameBoy Advanced games like Link To The Past. Still holds up to today, I’m not even a nostalgic person, it was just a very well made game even by today’s standards.

  4. “It’s a trial-and-error memory test. Each level typically has one specific path that you have to follow, and enemies have predictable patterns that you have to memorize. Once you have that shit down, it’s just a matter of keeping it all together and fighting with the abysmal controls.” …That’s Aban Hawkins!

    Nice closing joke. It raised a smirk.

  5. I think it’s only part nostalgia, part remembering how awesome you were at a particular game and wanting to feel that feeling again. I didn’t just play Zaxxon, I rocked at Zaxxon. I didn’t just play Mr. Do! I could turn over the levels on the Coleco Vision so it started counting all over again. Being able to feel that feeling will always feel good for someone. You guys will have your games like that as well. Of course, that doesn’t make this review any less valid. Just an old guy saying I totally understand loving these old games since I’m old.

    When the Goober generations grandkids are all wearing 3D bodysuits and actually fist fighting in a virtual arena with the Kinect 1020, the Goobers be firing up Street Fighter 4 and showing them how good they were and the kids will be snickering at the terrible controls (and the fact you even had to USE a controller) and the ugly graphics.

    Can’t wait to see what the Indie Gamer Chick of the future reviews of the remakes look like.

  6. GaTechGrad says:

    I need to register “” and create a blog so I can ramble on about how much better games were back in the good old days. However, I started with the original Nintendo in 1987, so games with Atari style graphics do look lacking to me.

  7. Pingback: It’s the Age Thing « Indie Gamer Chick

  8. Yeah, it was an awesome game, this. I loved it. So much character. Jet Set Willy was pretty fly too. I have played emulations of both in recent years after owning them for the C64.

  9. Pingback: Mechanician Alex and Pablo’s Fruit | Indie Gamer Chick

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