Jester Interactive‘s 2002 remake of Manic Miner must surely rate as the best version of Manic Miner available (excepting maybe the Spectrum original), although it might play too quickly for some.
The speed at which Miner Willy moves and jumps is frightening. Unlike most versions of Manic Miner there’s no lack of processing power to slow the game down. The extra speed is fine early on, but later levels are made much more challenging due to how quickly you have to react. On the odd occasion Willy doesn’t correctly switch-jump, which can cause problems. Is this control fumble due to the fast speed, or is it a bug? Or even a feature? Who knows?
Graphically, this Manic Miner remake is superb. The backdrops are not too busy that they get in the way of the action (well, most are – the Processing Plant is definitely too busy!), but all are beautifully-drawn, and each screen is slightly bigger than the GBA screen so the screen scrolls a little when you reach the sides.
The Game Boy Advance version of Manic Miner features two separate branches: “Original Game”, with the original 20 levels; and “Enhanced Game” with new levels mixed in with the old ones. Usually in Manic Miner the new or ‘enhanced’ levels are not very good, but in this it feels like they have been properly designed and playtested and offer enough of a challenge without being full of dead ends (a problem I noticed with extra levels in other Manic Miner conversions – the programmers often don’t understand what it is that makes the original Manic Miner levels so good (ie. multiple routes to completion; few (or no) dead ends (where you get stuck); and clever platform/enemy arrangement).
The only downside is that they got rid of the iconic Monty Python-style ‘Game Over’ boot and replaced it with a crappy pre-rendered animation. Boo! Should’a stuck to proper 2D graphics instead of that dated muck…
More on The King of Grabs: 10 Best Manic Miner Conversions
More: Manic Miner on Wikipedia