Developer: Llamasoft
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G, iPad

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Jeff Minter has made a career out of reliving the retro era in his games – from Tempest 2000 all the way up to his latest game Minotaur Rescue, he clearly loves old school gaming and seeks to present it in more modern forms. His latest venture is Mintoaur Rescue, an inertial space shooter that puts you in control of a ship that is out to destroy asteroids and rescue minotaurs floating in space, for fun and points. Controls are as simple as flicking in the direction you want to move, and autofire takes care of the rest. In the main game mode, Solar Minotaur Rescue Frenzy, there is a sun in the center of the screen that objects are attracted to; you have to keep too many asteroids from flying into it lest it become a black hole, which causes everything to become sucked into the middle of the screen and the playing field to become distorted. The other modes include Deep Space Minotaur Madness, which is largely the same as the Solar variant but with no sun in the center of the playing field; there are also Tanks and Jets games that are takeoffs on similar Atari-era games.

Minotaur Rescue is fun in part because of how frenetic it can get. There’s always a lot of action, and the gravitational aspects of the Solar mode allow for more craziness, and the other game modes bring plenty of variety to the game. It’s simple to play with the flick controls, and the single device multiplayer is an interesting twist as well, especially on the iPad where up to 4 people can take part. The game may be inspired by retro gaming, but contains plenty of modern iOS features, like universal app support and support for Game Center and OpenFeint. However, the best part of the game is reading the documentation in the About menu – there’s clearly a lot of passion that went into this game and with Jeff Minter and LlamaSoft’s quest to preserve a classic era of gaming.

Now, the game can often be chaotic, and hard to keep track of with your tiny ship and all the visual effects that frequently fill the screen. However, compared to one of their previous games, Space Giraffe, this is nothing. The flick controls seem to be a bit less responsive on the iPad than on the iPod touch, or require a longer swipe threshold to turn. As well, the controls can be hard to use if you want to stay in place and just turn to fire in a different direction. As well, playing with multiple players on one device can lead to plenty of obfuscation by the simple fact that there are up to 4 fingers on the screen at once.

Minotaur Rescue is a solid little inertial shooter with plenty of TLC behind it. It can be quite chaotic, but the simple controls and offbeat elements in play make it fun and memorable, and the universal app support with expanded single-device multiplayer options is definitely a plus for iPad owners. You could do much worse for $0.99.

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