Mancave (C64)

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Enjoyable old school platforming action with lots of charm and a great music soundtrack. It is on the short side limiting overall game play value but what is there is quite good and a lot fun.

User Review
2.5 (2 votes)

Psytronik Software is proud to present Mancave, developed by the team at Megastyle, who last year garnered critical acclaim for their release of the underwater scuba diving themed arcade game, Exploding Fish for the C64.

Mancave tells the tale of Richard, who comes home one evening to find that his two bratty kids have snuck into his basement man palace and turned the whole room inside out. During the course of their invasion the kids have uncovered Richard’s secret stash of adult magazines and spread them all around the house for Richard’s wife to find.

It is up to you to take control of Richard and guide him around his house to collect all of his magazines before his rising stress level reach the level where it will result in fatal consequences.

Each level starts off with a cut scene and a witty (but cringe worthy) marriage joke to set the scene before you take Richard up the stairs of the basement to commence his hunt for his magazines while avoiding contact with other family members in the house.

Collected magazines need to be taken down back to a green bin in your mancave where they will be safely hidden away. However, you can only carry a certain number of magazines at once and the game will warn you if you reach carrying capacity. Your carrying capacity reduces as you progress through the levels which means that you will be making more frequent trips to the bin.

Mancave features a time limit mechanism in the guise of Richard’s stress level. As time goes by, the stress indicator will rise as you run around the house and if you allow it to reach danger level then a life will be lost. Collecting magazines or returning them to the bin will reduce the stress level  so they key is to keep up the momentum and don’t let it climb too high.

There are 5 different levels on offer in Mancave, each one ramping up the difficulty by either introducing an additional character to avoid or holes in the floor to jump over. The introduction of the mother-in-law character brings an additional dynamic in that if you are on the same level as her then she will turn around (unlike all the other characters) and chase you. While the first four levels provide arcade platforming action, the final level, taking place in Richard’s night time dreams sees him go one on one against his mother-in-law. To help break up the game play a little further, Mancave alslo features two bonus levels allowing you to ramp up your points score without impacting your lives.

Mancave is quite a lot of fun to play. At first glance, you would think that it is nothing more than a simple single screen platform game but it’s not until you get into the game proper that you start to appreciate that there is a bit of strategy involved. The random placement of the magazines, the not knowing of where the other family members are going to appear from, deciding how best to use the hiding spots and the times when a family member stops in the middle of the screen forcing you to wait while your stress indicator is hitting the critical levels all add so much depth to the game.

Mancave features responsive controls that enable you to squeeze Richard out of tight situations. The game does feature some inertia physics which means changing direction is not instant as Richard slides momentarily before turning around. The game does include a setting to control the amount of inertia but after playing with the effect switched on for a few day, I don’t think I will be turning it off as this feature has become a nuance of the game that I have gotten accustomed to and appreciate what it brings to the playing experience.

Mancave is also somewhat unique in that it has a trophy/achievement system built in consisting of a total of 16 trophies which can me earned throughout the game. Other than LuftrauserZ, I cannot recall any other C64 game having such a feature.

Mancave features colourful and well defined graphics that are quite charming in an old school kind of way. Roy Widding’s soundtrack featuring 15 different tunes crafted hand picked to fit the theme of the action on screen, with Van Halen’s Dream being my personal favourite, is a joy and enhances the overall playing experience.

The only deficiency with ManCave that I could flag is that it only has five levels and as such limits the overall score I can award the game as I feel its important to maintain relative ‘lastability’ against games such as Sam’s Journey, Steel Ranger and Pains ‘n’ Aches .

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