I loved Manual Samuel when it was released just short of two years ago.
I remember seeing it at an EGX event beforehand and it just grabbed me. It grabbed others, too; everyone was crowding around to see the hilarity of the events happening onscreen. It was just different.
Fast forward to the present day and now it’s available on Nintendo Switch, because why not? Everything else is. When it comes to a game like Manual Samuel though, I’m glad that it has been ported. A game that’s short but sweet and just as quirky as the hardware it’s now running on, Manual Samuel and Switch are pretty much a match made in heaven.
Same feces, different format
Honestly, not much has changed from the game’s original release. Go read my review of the Xbox One version if you want more info about its nitty gritty details. If you’ve played the game before you might notice the odd little difference that Perfectly Paranormal, its developer, has slipped in to tantalise fans eager for its next project. Other than that, the only differences arise out of the Nintendo Switch’s unique features.
Straightening your back, for instance, can now be performed with the flick of a Joy-Con rather than pressing up on the d-pad. If you want to, anyway. It’s also now easier than ever to enjoy the game in co-op; just slide the joy cons out of your Nintendo Switch, hand one to another player and you’re ready to go. It’s still outrageously challenging to play in co-op though. But that’s the fun of it all.
Tickling a funny bone
Whether you play Manual Samuel alone or with a friend, in story mode or time attack mode, laughter always ensues. From the utter ridiculousness of Death being a little more than a yobbo who yearns to pull off a a kickflip, to the strife of trying to perform simple tasks, everything tickles a funny bone. It’s slapstick comedy as it has never been presented before in a video game. Every moment is an opportunity to amuse the player with a mishap, but it doesn’t rely on your ineptitude to raise a chuckle; it also does so with its clever writing, visual gags and brilliant timing.
Nearly two years after release and there’s still nothing else quite like Manual Samuel out there. Is it inimitable? I don’t think so, but I also don’t think any other developer could pull something off in a similar vein quite so masterfully. There’s so much personality poured into Manual Samuel that it’s a tough act to follow. Hopefully Perfectly Paranormal has enough left in its tank to impress with its follow-up.
A sticky issue
On Switch then, Manual Samuel is basically just as good as it has ever been. I only have one gripe; you can’t use the left analogue stick. Some people won’t mind, but I found myself instinctively reaching for the left analogue stick time and time again to straighten my back, reach for the gear stick etc., only for it to do nothing. Playing mainly in handheld mode, I eventually got used to it, but the awkward positioning of the direction buttons on the left Joy-Con always had me wishing I could use the analogue stick.
Despite this minor inconvenience though, Manual Samuel remains a must-have on Nintendo Switch, especially if you’ve not already played it. From its brilliant visuals to its utterly unique gameplay, there’s little here that disappoints. It’s a game that you’ll return to time and time again just for the sheer hell of it, and sometimes you’ll drag along a friend and have such a stupid time that your jaw will ache from smiling. That’s just the type of game that Manual Samuel is; overwhelmingly silly, but all the better for it.