Mangavania is a title that screams retro-influenced! With an old-school aesthetic, 8-Bit music, and simple stage design, it is brilliantly minimalistic. However, it is also challenging, charming, and unbelievably addictive.
Developed by Alexander Nikolaev and published by Sometimes You, this is a platforming experience. Moreover, it comprises old-school imagery and a healthy dose of Metroidvania influence. Consequently, there is plenty of exploration, jumping, fighting, and some basic puzzles to be solved. Moreover, there are unlockable abilities, a timer to beat, and a scoring system for each stage.
Mangavania is a tale of sibling love.
You control Yuhiko, a young and skilled ninja. This stealthy warrior ventures into the underworld to find a cure for his brother. However, en route, he encounters many traps and monsters that test his ability and his resolve. Yet, with the desire to save the life of his brother, Yuhiko puts himself in danger while learning new tricks along the way.
The plot and the mechanics are familiar, but the blend of Metroidvania action and platforming mechanics helps to keep things fresh. Moreover, the range of monsters, and gradually more convoluted stage design ensures that this doesn’t plateau. On top of this, Mangavania has a rudimentary scoring system for each level. Consequently, competitive individuals will push themselves to memorise each stage while aiming for a near-perfect speedrun.
Collect the orbs, find new friends, and escape.
For unknown reasons, the exit for each stage is locked behind a gate. Accordingly, the only way out is to find 3 flying orbs. These glowing entities are hidden in plain sight and you must use parkour skills to obtain each one. However, this is easier said than done, as there are traps, crumbling platforms, lifts, and monsters to overcome.
Whether you tackle jumping blobs, bats, shadow creatures, or sneaky wizards, they will test your resolve. Additionally, you’ll have to unlock fresh abilities to tackle some of these creatures. To gain each new skill, you’ll have to spend your hard-earned gems. These valuable assets are awarded at the end of each level. Furthermore, the better your score, the more gems you are awarded. The 4 unique abilities are essential as they tip the scales in your favour. As such, they are a must if you wish to progress.
Though each dungeon is dangerous, you’ll find friendly spirits behind locked doors. If you can find the key and say hello, they’ll give you advice, gems, and a health refill. Consequently, it was an additional layer that added depth as well as a reason to thoroughly search each area.
Mangavania is beautifully old-school.
I cherish a monochromatic experience. Furthermore, I enjoy it when the developers add a hint of colour. This minor edge is the perfect tool to highlight key mechanics, such as checkpoints or danger areas. Thankfully, Mangavania uses this approach perfectly. Moreover, the black and white colour palette perfectly fits the retro art style. Subsequently, the rudimentary sprites, understated level design, and basic animation are exactly what you want from this genre.
Alongside the dated visuals was some 80s-inspired audio. This uncomfortable music was tough to listen to. With shrill tones and upbeat nature, it personifies the genre. Yet, I’d have liked a larger selection of songs, as it quickly became repetitive. If we overlook the music for one moment, the sound effects were great. Accordingly, you’ll enjoy the thud of your sword, the twang of your bow, and strange sounds from every enemy.
Am I a platforming master?
This genre isn’t my forte. However, the simple setup and easy-to-understand fundamentals made me feel like a pro. Alongside this, Mangavania drip feeds its mechanics to prevent an overwhelming experience. Additionally, you are free to upgrade any ability at any time. Therefore, you can choose how you wish to progress and that was amazing.
What was also great was the addictive gameplay. Thanks to the scoring system, the Metroidvania elements, and the tough but fair enemies, you can play this repeatedly. What was missing, however, was the total incurred time. Had the developers included this information, it would have been a perfect speedrun title.
Mangavania is simple but brilliant.
Some gamers moan when a game lacks complexity. However, that is what makes Mangavania so amazing. Its simple stage design, stripped-back ideas, and moreish action keep you going. Additionally, it is great value for money and perfect for completionists. Accordingly, though it was short, I recommend that you buy it here! Can you find the cure for your brother? Kill monsters, befriend spirits, and survive every dungeon.