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Llamasoft's The Minotaur Project #1 - Minotaur Rescue

Anyone who played games extensively on the VIC-20, C64, Atari ST, Atari Jaguar, etc. is sure to be well familiar with the works of Jeff Minter, known by some as "Yak". He has been releasing game under the Llamasoft label for more than two decades now, and he's considered by many to be one of the greats of the classic systems. After ending his involvement in the Xbox 360 and after his latest PC release, Gridrunner Revolution, he decided to start a series of games for iOS devices, which he is releasing under the moniker of The Minotaur Project. In short, the goal of The Minotaur Project is to create a series of games based on classic games, but featuring gameplay elements which do not have to abide by the limitations of the original systems on which they were produced.

His first game, Minotaur Rescue, will look familiar to many. The game is an amalgamation of several classic games, namely Asteroids and Space War, and the look of the game is intentionally replicating Atari 2600 style graphics. The game centers on a small, blocky ship which automatically fires furiously around a playfield with a star in the center. The star, of course, has a gravitational field which will pull in any free floating objects. The player is tasked with navigating through asteroid fields and the occasional UFO while trying to rescue free-floating Minotaurs before they are sucked into the star.

Anyone familiar with Asteroids will be well at home in how to handle the Asteroids and various other baddies that fly around. However, the controls will certainly take some time to master. It took me several play-throughs before I figured out how to keep my ship from zipping across the screen into an asteroid at the speed of light. If you are trying this game for the first time, think of your iPhone or iPad's screen as a very sensitive trackball, and you should be able to figure things out from there.

As is standard fare with Llamasoft games, the gameplay is fast and furious, and you'll find yourself getting sucked into the "zone" in the heat of battle. Several other game modes exist, including multiplayer mode for up to 4 people on the same device (yes, really), but the main attraction here is the Survival mode, which is the standard formula of clear-screen-of-baddies and rescue-cute-fluffy-animals, a hallmark of most Llamasoft titles. The only drawback is the less than intuitive controls, but once you have them mastered, you'll find yourself going back again and again.

The game is only $.99 on the Apple App Store. For that price, you certainly can't go wrong with it.


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