Alper Sarikaya has recently returned to the iTunes Marketplace spotlight with a sequel to their well received Manuganu, so today we’re here to see if lightning can manage to strike twice with Manuganu 2 (out now, $0.99). First things first: Manuganu 2 is — despite the initial impressions you might have gotten from pictures and videos regarding the game — actually not an endless runner title, although there are certainly some similarities. While the Manuganu series does indeed feature levels that are scrolling forward the majority of the time, the game is actually entirely comprised of non-randomized stages — complete with a defined destination — that furthermore have multiple pathways available.

screen480x480The journey begins one day when Manuganu’s best friend — a weird fuzzy blob thing named Daadi — was abducted by the evil terrible fire demon, Goyakoka, leaving the hero with no choice but embark on a mission to save his friend. This is accomplished by successfully finishing each of the game’s forty varied levels, which also include four special boss-stages during which you must evade the hounding efforts of a giant monster. Along the way completionists can also challenge themselves by seeing how fast they can finish each of the game’s many levels, all without missing any of the special hidden coins in the process (more on these later).

To keep things simple, Manuganu 2 will only ever force players to deal with anywhere from one-to-two buttons — whose purposes will be context sensitive — at any given moment. Generally speaking: the right hand button is used for jumping and double jumping, whereas the left hand button is used for either stopping the hero mid-run or making him perform an umbrella assisted glide whenever already in the air. There will also be moments — wherein the hero either takes flight, or plunges into the ocean — where the player will exclusively employ the jump button, all in a Flappy Bird esque manner.

Players will — utilizing this simplified control scheme — jump, swing, swim, fly, glide, climb, and bounce their eventual way to victory against Goyakoka and his cartoonish abyssal hordes. While other endless runners often run into issues where a plethora of potential actions generally lead to a game that commonly confuses what you’re trying to do at the worst possible moments, Manuganu 2’s context based controls work flawlessly. Furthermore, the game’s static levels — far more so than its somewhat novel stop button — make for a far more rewarding experience than what’s generally found in other runners, as players can truly master this game rather than merely reacting to its randomness.

screen480x480 (1)Even more so — similar to the many levels of classical Sonic the Hedgehog games — these levels tend to have multiple pathways to take through them, allowing players to see something new every replay if they are so inclined. While the upper most path will generally be the one that leads to the special hidden coins, of which three can be found on every level, the mere inclusion of such variety is definitely a nice plus. Collecting all three of these hidden coins each stage — along with finishing the level fast enough, and also picking up enough blue coins as well — will enable the player to get a 3-Star ranking.

Other than the purpose of pure bragging rights, amassing enough of these hidden coins over time will enable players to gain access to concept artwork and MP3s of the Manuganu 2’s soundtrack. Oddly enough these locked items — once they finally become accessible — lead straight to files being hosted through Drop Box, rather than being viewed inside of the actual game. These hidden coins — other than the aforementioned non essential game play functions — serve no other actual in-game purposes, and can only be obtained via the game itself (as Manuganu 2 is completely devoid of any IAPs).

Anyways, further accompanying the solid context sensitive controls — and fixed level designs — is a top notch cartoonish 3D art design that further compliments the game’s neo-vintage platformer feeling. In both design aesthetic — as well as art quality — Manuganu 2 will regularly leave the player feeling as though they’ve discovered a hidden gem from the PS2/GCN era, albeit one instead featuring a traditional sidescrolling motif. One particular moment where I especially happened to be struck with a feeling of nostalgia was during the cliff climbing segments — wherein you jump back and forth avoiding bugs — as it reminded me heavily of a certain stage found in Super Mario Bros 2.

Another nice visual effect is that stages not only feature branching paths which go up and down, but they sometimes also have paths that will take you into the foreground and background also. To accompany this there will even be entire stage segments — complete with enemies and secrets — that you can even see in the background as you run along, showing real paths that are either upcoming or weren’t taken. While not necessarily the most meaningful of additions, it’s the many various little touches like this that — when all combined — certainly go a long ways to separate Manuganu 2 from its many competitors.

Unless you’re searching for a game about running farms — or perhaps involving dark and gritty gun wielding heroes — you should probably check out Manuganu 2, especially since it has been priced so affordably (a price that furthermore comes with zero IAPs attached).

iFanzine Verdict: If you’ve ever wanted an iOS game resembling an endless runner — but with a greater emphasis on classical memorization, rather than snap based reactions — then Manuganu 2 is certainly a well made game that you shouldn’t miss. The simple context sensitive control scheme — that will never crap out on you — will enable you to effortlessly pilot the hero’s many potential actions: jumping, double jumping, wall jumping, climbing, swimming, flying, gliding, bouncing, swinging, etc. All of this furthermore comes coupled with great graphics — a plethora of varied levels — a complete and total lack of IAPs to worry about, all wrapped within an extremely low and affordable price tag.