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Developer: Llamasoft
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 0001.01.01
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Jeff Minter’s Llamasoft keeps on keeping on with their newest retro-inspired iOS title, Caverns of Minos. The goal of each level is the same: descend into a cavern, retrieve an item, get back to the top with it. That is grossly oversimplifying it, as a giant translucent space sheep is what the items are being delivered to, and they include such random things as a cracker, the Japanese character ‘ox’ and mankind’s last hope. The player’s ship automatically fires in multiple directions, can land on flat surfaces to rescue minotaurs, and can thrust upward in order to slow its descent when going down, and to get back up to the top faster once the item has been obtained.

This might actually be the deepest game of the Minotaur Project released on iOS yet; the gameplay is multi-faceted, being at times a shoot ‘em up, at times a lunar landing game, and a game of skillful dodging. The Jeff Minter style of both retro gaming references and sheer ludicrousness is here in full effect; the game Scramble appears to have been a big influence visually, with plenty of other cheeky visual references to other classic titles. But the game is a ton of fun, as the challenge changes from going down to going up, which becomes a frenzied race against the fuel gauge and shield bar to try and get the bonus for those rescued minotaurs.

There’s a lot to like about the controls – they use a simple swiping/sliding on one side of the screen and tapping on the other to thrust, with tilting to direct the shots. Fans of physical controls will be glad to know the game also supports the iCade, though the game is perfectly playable with the touch controls as well. The four ships provide interesting variations on gameplay; some ships provide more firepower but are harder to land, for example.

The ghost enemies will forever be my bugaboo; they are instant death upon contact, and they can be hard to see in the levels they’re in with so much going on. In fact, the game is very busy in general, and it can be hard to tell what is going on at times. Of course, compared to Llamasoft’s Xbox 360 game Space Giraffe, nothing comes close in the terms of busy visuals.

This might be the best game in the Minotaur Project yet – its blending of various game types feels original, yet still so very retro. Check this one out.

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