Manhole-e – e-Reader
Platform: Nintendo e-Reader
Release Date (NA): 2003
Genre: Arcade, LCD Game (Game & Watch)
Rating: 3 out of 10
Never heard of the e-Reader? Want to know more? Check out my review/description of Nintendo’s e-Reader.
It would seem that at one point Nintendo had plans to release the entire collection of Game and Watch games on the e-Reader, but evidently these plans fell through, and the only such game to make it was Manhole-e. Anyone who’s ever played the old Game and Watch games knows that they’re little more than early LCD games of the sort made popular by Tiger Electronics back in the 1990’s. By default the gameplay is repetitive, difficult, and uninspiring. It’s easy to see why Nintendo didn’t prioritize making the complete Game and Watch catalog available for the e-Reader.
Unlike many of the e-Reader cards, Manhole-e consists only of a single card with a dot code on each of the long edges. The experience of playing on an LCD screen with a fixed background is replicated on the GBA. The objective of Manhole-e is pretty simple. There are four open holes, two at the top and two at the bottom. For whatever reason, a bunch of goofy looking people are trying to run across these gaps. All the while, the player looks like a human-raccoon hybrid that’s terrified half to death, clinging on to a manhole cover from underneath. The objective is to quickly move from one of the 4 gaps to another, in order to facilitate the crossing of the bizarre people. Things get fast and furious quickly, and the gameplay is slightly confusing. It seems that the manhole doesn’t need to be in place until the wanderer makes it to the other side, it just needs to be under him when he steps into the gap. I didn’t think to try this out of the thin air; people were beginning to appear so quickly that eventually I was forced to move to a new spot before someone had finished crossing. Much to my surprise, they crossed safely even though it seemed I had jerked the manhole out from under them. When one of these oblivious beings falls into an uncovered manhole, it counts as a “miss.” Three misses = Game Over.
By no stretch of the imagination is Manhole-e actually fun to play. For a handheld as powerful as the GBA, I don’t understand why Nintendo wouldn’t have updated the game somewhat, similar to what they did for Bird in Game and Wario. Even a little bit of color would be nice, or perhaps increasing the frame rate so that we had something more fluid than the choppy effect that makes all LCD games look awful. There really isn’t much more to say about this underwhelming entry in the e-Reader’s library. It’s an exact replica of what would’ve been a lackluster game years before. I’m not even sure if there’s any significant nostalgia value here. Perhaps the silver lining is that I’m one card closer to having all North American e-Reader cards…
Reviewed by The Cubist
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