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Developer: Llamasoft
Price: $1.99
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’s Minotaur Project roars on, with his latest iOS game, Minotron: 2112. This game is an arena shooter in the vein of his game Llamatron for the Atari ST, which itself was tremendously inspired by Robotron 2084. In this game, you control a minotaur, who must clear out screens of enemies, while rescuing the animals strewn throughout the levels. There are a variety of powerups to pick up, from a spread shot to one that transforms you into a giant raging minotaur. You get 3 lives by default in each of the game’s 4 modes (which vary in mechanics and powerups), with an Endurance mode available for each game type that challenges you to start from the beginning with only one life.

The game features a unique resuming system, where your best cumulative performance is saved on each level, so you can resume from any level with your best score and lives intact, and carry on from there. The game can be often and intense and difficult, so having this feature allows you to learn how to master the levels, and to add replay value to the game’s middle levels. I love the idea that a platform like the App Store exists where a well-known developer like Jeff Minter can make a game in a month, and then sell it at a small price. Also a must-read is the “About Minotron: 2112″ in the Info menu, which is a great discussion on the game’s inspiration and why it is the way it is. The documents on Llamatron and Minotaur Project are great reads as well if you didn’t read them in Minotaur Rescue.

I get what Jeff Minter is doing with the game’s different control scheme – instead of the left side of the screen being your movement stick and the right side being your firing stick, the finger you put down first is movement, and the second one changes which direction you fire in, with firing being continuous. However, if you lift your finger from the side you were moving, the side controlling your firing starts to move you. I find a problem with a control scheme that makes it easy to accidentally run into enemies when I think I’m changing my firing direction. In addition, the controls make it extremely difficult to fire at a diagonal angle. I’m not sure if this is an improvement: with the game’s wild graphical effects, it can be difficult to tell which is a beast that you want to save, and which is an enemy where collision is deadly. And the game doesn’t quite have the kind of freshness that Minotaur Rescue had, which felt much more original than this game does.

Minotron: 2112 is quite fun at times, but its controls can make the game more frustrating than it ought to be. Still, if you love retro-inspired games, and especially the Llamatron and Robotron games, or just want something a little different from the typical arena shooter, Minotron: 2112 is a solid purchase – and at worst, it’s interesting reading material.

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