Most Fabulous Digiworld Review In The World = reproduced
with with kind thanks to Jonathan
MANIC MINER (SPECCY MOD)
Enter Mainwaring & Wilson
Now, Wilson, this just won't do. The men are - Glk! Glghh! (HE DIES.)
Mainwaring? Oh dear, this is - aaarghh! Chhkkhh! (HE DIES.) (Enter
Corporal Jones & Private Fraser)
panic! Don't - hrrrghhh! (DIES.)
doo - urghk! (DIES.)
BODIES FLOAT AROUND): Dad's Army in Space Without Helmets, tonight
at 8pm on BBC1.
ageism at Digiworld. A splendid game is a splendid game, whether
a million years old (like Pac-Man, playable of course in MAME) or
bang up-to-date (like X-Box MAME). Nor
do we discriminate on the grounds of fanboy freeness. Why, only
yesterday Mr Popular recommended a Thief mod. Accordingly,
for my inaugural Digi review, I'd like to tell you about CSS Manic
Miner. (Because Midtown Madness 3 hasn't turned up again - Ed.)
You all know
Manic Miner, obviously. Single-handedly invented the platform game
as we know it, with only the slight, trifling assistance of pinching
17 ideas from Miner 2049er.
You may not
know that there's (still) a reasonably thriving mod community, with
dedicated hard-working fans redesigning the game into a series of
ever more ambitious "experiences" packed with features ingenious
enough to make original author M Smith fall off his ottoman. And
they're all rubbish.
mods are rubbish because they've lost track, completely lost track,
of what Manic Miner is about: the fun.
the excitement of fairness, they've substituted clever, enjoyable
levels with extremely clever, horrid clumping lumps of haw-haw smugness
so empty of fun that they may as well have the levels play themselves
for all the entertaining, attainable skill that's involved. These
mods aren't to play, they're to be shown off.
And then there's
CSS Manic Miner.
exploit bugs in the game to add special features. It
doesn't lavishly redraw all the pics so you don't know what anything
does. It's based (for flip's sake) on a bunch of in-jokes about
a bunch of people on a Speccy newsgroup. Yet
with its accomplished understanding of what made MM fun, it is ace.
Manic Miner returns that all-important confidence to the game. You
know that if you mess this bit up, you can likely recover. There
are the traditional pixel-perfect jumps, but the author lets you
breathe in between. You're not forced around the screen along the
one true route, any tiniest deviation from which spells disaster.
you have the confidence to play it for fun. Isn't that super?
I think that's
There are a bunch of games nowadays where you're encouraged to stamp
your idiot personality on the thing by stringing together penny-
farthing-riding combos or something. MM
demonstrates acely that this has always been with us. Do you take
a level bit by bit, anxiously pausing at the platform's edge, nudging
Miner Willy's foot to the farthest point; or run like a loony start
to end and take off in mid-stride, mixing exhilaration and panic?
Express! END PARENTHESIS.)
design, combined with a fine sense of visual clarity in the new
pics make CSSMM a big old bag of lovely. Diabolical
traps and neuron-defying feats of timing abound, but because it's
all fair and fun, you don't feel cheated when you perish. (In
fact, you end up applauding one of the traps, which puts an odd
spike in the middle of nowhere solely to catch panickers who can't
stop after a series of tricky jumps. I laughed for 7.2s.)
I can't think
of a single bad level in CSSMM (except in the sense of staring at
the Clubhouse one for about a week before understanding it. Cough).
element in the Manic Miner sly-o-vocabulary is bunged in, by an
adept bunger who understands you don't admire games you can't play.
it retains the spirit of the original in exactly the way (say) Jet
Set Willy II didn't, it's free and you're downloading it now. Hurrah!
MINER (SPECCY) / N FISHWICK
and fun. Free of gimmicks, free of enragements, free.
Embarrassingly little. Needs
VERDICT Tremendous mod for a timeless game which masterfully
grasps the original's stringently fair craftiness.
+10% Relies only on the rules.
+10% "I - I - corwumph!"
+10% Solar power-free zone.
-10% "That was never my fault!"
+30% "Actually it was, entirely."
-10% I've counted this up wrongly.
by J NASH.