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DoctorSpuds Reviews Things - Mangia (Spectravision)


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Spectravision was mostly known for their Quickshot brand of joysticks, but that didn’t prevent them from entering the home game market in early 1982. Spectravision released a grand total of eleven games for the 2600 before abandoning it in late 1982, eleven games in a year is quite impressive. They are also one of the rarer companies on the 2600, in that a majority of their catalog is an R5 or above. You can actually track the rough time when the games were released by their rarity, with the early games being fairly common at an R3, ending with their final game Mangia being an R10. I feel the need to say that they didn’t completely abandon the games market, they simply moved on to home computers like the VIC-20 and C64, as well as one of Atari’s competitors the Colecovision. Spectravision didn’t stop at simply programming games or making controllers however, they went and released an entire home computer the SVI-728 which was basically an American MSX computer, not to mention the 2600 add-on the CompuMate, seriously these guys dipped their fingers into just about everything. The inevitable happened of course, the company went public the shares were selling like hotcakes but a year later stokes were down to 75 cents per share and they had to be bought out, eventually becoming enveloped by a larger company and ceasing to exist in any substantial way. At least it wasn’t murdered by the Crash like so many others were, but we must stop looking at the company and start looking at the particularly weird game it released.

I am astonished by the graphical complexity of this game, there is just so much to look at, but the real problem though is that this game is also terrifically ugly. I hope you like turquoise since that is all you’ll really be seeing while playing Mangia, a bright eye piercing shade of turquoise. Apart from that though, everything else is ugly to serviceable to terrific, the mother for example actually resembles a human person, resplendent in a checkered skirt and poofy 1980’s hair. The little boy sat down in the chair taller than he is… frightening, the mother at least had eyebrows and eyes while this poor kid just has a soulless void punched into his face. He’s also wearing the worst outfit ever, I know I’m not one to talk since I just wear sweatpants and T-shirts, but why would he wear a blue shirt, and lime green pants coupled with a bright purple hat? This poor lump of a child would get beaten up if he went to school wearing that. The window-dressing is as well, the light on the ceiling intersecting the score, the boy swinging his legs, the demonic painting, and the curtained window; they’re all nice touches that add to the overall complexity of the game. Unfortunately I cannot get past the eye watering color palette, if they went with a more subdued rosy pink like in the promotional pictures I probably wouldn’t have as much of a problem, but as it stands… OUCH!

This is one of the few Spectravision titles to have music, there is a vaguely Italian tune that plays when the game starts and when you begin a new life, it’s not bad but it does get a little annoying after prolonged play. Most of the game consists of your basic Atari beeps and boops with one major exception, an obnoxious jabbering noise whenever an animal appears on screen, at first I mistook it for the mother intermittently blabbing your ears off, but it turns out it was only an indicator for the animals. The jabbering noise, at least to me, is absolutely toe curling, I can only compare it to nails on a chalkboard, I wish I could mute it but I can’t since it’s fairly necessary to play the game.

Playing Mangia is simple, all you do is move the joystick, there is no usage of that big red button here. Your main goal is to not eat at all costs, your mother will start loading the table up with your ‘favorite’ pasta dish, and your goal is to not eat any of it, you gotta pick up those plates by pushing right with the joystick and chucking them up to the cat in the window by pushing up or dropping them down to the dog on the floor by pushing down. You can eat the food but if you eat too much your stomach will quite literally explode and you will die. If your mother sees you throwing food to the animals or if you miss you will be served the plates of food instead of one, and if your mother catches you too many times she will simply break the table out of anger. The overall concept is interesting but in the end it just ends up feeling incredibly mundane, there is almost no variation to the game which will lead to stagnation and boredom. Before I wrap all of this up though I have a few rhetorical questions for this game… Where does the mother get all of these plates from? Why does one household have so many identical tables? Will the mother be charged and imprisoned for overfeeding her child to the point of death? Who is the frightening man in the picture? Actually I know the answer to that last one… It’s Mario.

This game is a curiosity, plain and simple. And my goodness what a price to pay for such a curiosity, there are currently four copies listed at the moment, one is loose for $700 and the other three are boxed and are priced at $1,420.50, $1,208.39, and $3,385.20, also you’re gonna pay a hefty amount on shipping since these guys are probably sending them wrapped in silk and lodged firmly in a wooden crate. If I had the money to buy this game I most certainly would not, since I don’t feel the need to watch a child explode.

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