Sunshine Manor: Straight to console 80s horror
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

Let me tell you a tale…

What’s the price to pay for fame and fortune? Just ask Mr. Aitken. Megastar of the family-friendly television show “The Sunshine Hour”. The once-seemed-to-be doomed TV show made a complete 180 and became a household name worldwide overnight. That was until one Halloween when the police were called to Mr.Aitken’s home, the Sunshine Manor, coming face to face with a horrific crime scene.

Fast forward to the year 1980.

It’s Halloween once again and we are now controlling Ada. A young girl with a bedsheet draped over herself masquerading as a ghost costume. Accompanied by her two friends dressed up as the devil and a witch, they lament about how much of a bust trick or treating has been. Standing outside the infamous and possibly haunted Sunshine Manor, the friends end up daring each other to enter the decrepit home, unaware of the dangers that lay in wait for them.

All 8 bits going full blast

Sunshine Manor is an 8-bit adventure title. It looks like it came out at the end of the NES timeline in all the best ways. It is bright, colourful and makes use of its colour pallet wonderfully. The manor itself is drab, grey and dark. It’s the dungeons where the bright colour comes into play. The colour theory of each area is on show, perfectly paired with one another bringing a uniqueness to each area visited.

Being set in an abandoned mansion, light is scarce. So Ada has a circle of light that illuminates a radius in her immediate area as she moves through the murder manor. This keeps you on edge as the room creeps into view with each step you take.

Music to my ears

Each dungeon Ada dives (literally) into is matched with a musical score. Overlapping the action as Ada makes her way through the twisted and grotesque halls of ghosts, ghouls and puzzles. It can come as a sudden surprise. And you may not know why at first but it all becomes obvious when you return to the manor. The manor is silent. There is no manor theme, no spooky chimes. All the player can hear are the footsteps of Ada shuffling through the darkness. It can be really tense at times because in that darkness, lying in wait, silently stalking, the Shadow Man is about to strike.

Is it an action-packed 80’s flick?

As much as I love looking and listening to “Sunshine Manor”, the gameplay is where I find it can be at its weakest. Ada’s main attack is tied to a power gauge. This pink-filled bar needs to be full for Ada to perform an attack but the bar takes time to refill.

The same bar is linked to Ada’s boost, an ability that doubles her speed for two to three seconds. Same as the attack, boost can only be used when the gauge is full. I can see what is being laid out for the players to decide here as they explore the manor. Does the player boost at every possible moment, leaving themselves vulnerable to an ambush? Or do they put up with Ada’s frustratingly slow walk speed but always ready to land an attack when needed?

The problem is as I just mentioned, Ada is slow, really slow. You’re going to want to use that boost at all times to make traversing the manor convenient. However, being made defenceless as a trade-off is too harsh I feel for how short the speed you get is.

Combat aside, the game has no map. Try to keep a mental map or in my case, sketch one with a paper and pen IRL. The old school was not just an aesthetic choice, it was also a design choice, a good one in my opinion.

As Ada progresses through her adventure, more threats are added to the manor to try and cut her down. This makes each return more dangerous and ups the difficulty every time. Just as an aside note, sometimes when you game over, the game over screen simply says “UH OH”. I just need to say it was the hardest I have laughed at a game in a long time and it still brings a smile to my face thinking back to it.

Should I plug in and play?

Sunshine Manor leans into the cult classic horror genre of those old VHS tapes you would see sitting on the shelf in the horror section of Xtra-Vision. It can be gory and violent at times and it just feels right to watch unfold because it’s happening to a child protagonist in the 1980s, that’s just what happens to kids in horror movies.

While critical of the combat, it was never a purely negative experience. I still enjoyed my time guiding Ada through her journey and wanted to see the story to the end. If you’re looking for an indie horror title, oozing retro style and doesn’t take itself too seriously, you cannot go wrong with Sunshine Manor.

Stay tuned to GamEir. Come talk with us on Twitter (@gam_eir), Facebook (@GamEir), and Instagram (@GamEir).
I promise we’re nice! Keep up with our streams over on Twitch (GamEir) and our videos on YouTube (GamEir) and we’ll give you all the latest content.

About The Author


Graham is the founder of GamEir and his knowledge is ever growing whenever it concerns gaming, films, and cartoons. Just don't ask him about politics.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.