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Game & Watch: Manhole - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Game & Watch: Manhole

DSiWare | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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2nd May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Game & Watch is an iconic character that most will likely associate with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. His early beginnings were in the form of handheld games that Nintendo designed for the portable scene from 1980 to 1991. Since then, some of the games have been re-released into collections on the GBA thanks to the Game & Watch Gallery series, and Game and Watch Collection available exclusively via Club Nintendo. Now, Nintendo is bringing Game & Watch to DSiWare, much like what was done with the Electroplankton titles. Manhole is one of the nine games in this series that proves that simple concepts can still carry relative weight in this day and age.

    In this game, there are two pathways that you'll need to keep an eye on. There's a top level and a lower level, with pedestrians coming from the left and right sides of the screen, respectively. In the middle of both levels are big, open holes that pose a threat to the safety of the civilians. It's your job to cover up these holes with the manhole cover in your hand, preventing passerby's from falling into the sewers. For every pedestrian that successfully makes it onto the manhole, you'll earn one point. As you get more and more points, the pace will get faster with more civilians coming rapidly. You only have three lives before you lose the game, but if you're really good, obtaining a certain amount of points will set your life counter back to the beginning.

    The game is entirely button-based and all the action takes place on the top screen. You use the D-Pad exclusively to control your on-screen character, moving left and right to move across levels and up and down to get to the level above or below you. It's a very simple premise and, really, almost anyone can understand how to play. But after earning 20 or 30 points, that's when the game begins to separate the quick from the slow thinkers. Much like with other Game and Watch titles, once you get into the higher point values, you'll need to make split-second decisions to ensure that all pedestrians make it across safely. 

    When it comes to the differences between Game A and Game B, it all comes down to difficulty. The latter confuses you earlier on in the game than in Game A, and the pace isn't really for beginners or even young players. No matter which mode you play in, you'll observe that while Manhole has a solid concept, it also can get very challenging later on. Even just achieving records in the triple digit values is hard to accomplish, and high-scores are treated as even bigger bragging rights than in other Game & Watch games. As such, Manhole is something that you can always come back to if you want to challenge your quick-thinking abilities.

    Both modes feature a Score Select option if you want to skip the slower paces and jump into challenging gameplay a lot quicker. Just making it to the 100-point mark will prove to be difficult for your first couple playhtroughs, so getting to use this feature may take some time. But if anything, it gives you motivation to keep trying to aim for 100 points, and beyond. When you do make use of it it, though, it's important to keep in mind that the game won't count your achievements. 

    From the Main Menu you can reset your data, head back to the DSi Menu or access the Help manual. There's also a 'Time' mode which will show a demo reel for the game with a simple clock. At least it looks better than the one used for Game & Watch: Judge. But this mode probably would've had more substance had it not been altered, but Nintendo decided to remove the alarm feature from this release for one reason or another.

The menu presentation is pretty straight-forward but it does have a slight nostalgic aspect to it. This can also be seen in the menu's music, but it makes me think of a scene from an Ace Attorney game. During gameplay, there's no actual music that takes place, which is in line with the original release of this game. What you will hear, though, are constant beeping and error sounds. These sounds actually play a key role in the gameplay. Once you understand how they correspond to the movements of the pedestrians and the scoring system, you'll be in a better position to handle the more maddening paces. Additionally, the fact that this release incorporates colour into the background environment adds luster to the overall look and feel. If you've ever played this game in its original format, it'll likely bring a smile to your face as you reminisce on memories from the past.

    In summary, Manhole is yet another solid purchase from the Game and Watch series. Many of these games carry a big pick-up-and-play feel that suit DSiWare very well, and this one is no exception. The concept may be simple but it sure is addicting once you get into it. It's something that you can also play alternatingly with a friend or family member to see how long both of you can survive. Whether you're rekindling fond memories or trying this for the first time, this is a fun game for those quick gaming sessions.

24/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Simple concept but things can get very challenging, controls work great, pace quickens gradually
Presentation 8/10 - Good use of colour, sounds of pedestrians walking matters a great deal, studying the noises helps you manage things better
Enjoyment 4/5 - Fun to challenge yourself, the game is at its best when you're very involved, great to alternate with someone else
Extra Content 4/5 - Motivating high-scores, Score Select feature to skip the slow start-up, Game B acts as a harder difficulty  

Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Game & Watch: Manhole
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