Early last month we previewed Solar Minotaur Rescue Frenzy from noted psychedelic shooter author Jeff Minter. The game is basically a trippy combination of Asteroids and Space War! played on the screen of the iPhone or iPad and marks the first in a series of Llamasoft games that are part of the "Minotaur Project," an effort by the developer to release numerous titles featuring retro gameplay, progressing forward from the Atari VCS aesthetic to the VIC 20, Commodore 64, and beyond.

The game is now complete and, with a few additions and enhancements over the preview build examined earlier, is available for download in the App Store [link].

Minotaur Rescue, which is a Universal app that natively supports both the iPhone and the iPad, consists of an active starfield play area with a sun at the center. In its core gameplay mode, you control an ever-firing ship that can fly about this starfield (wrapping at the edges) and is affected by the intense gravitational pull of the aforementioned sun. And so, too, are the asteroids closing in from the edges. Your job is to blast apart these asteroids (as opposed to slamming into them), some of which contain minotaurs that must be rescued before they drift into the sun. If too many asteroids drift into the sun, it will turn into a black hole…which is bad. The closer to the sun a minotaur gets before you rescue him, the more points you gain for said rescue. And, the more minotaurs you rescue and the closer you are to the sun, the faster your auto-fire tosses out rounds. Just to keep you fully on your toes, the occasional enemy saucer passes through (and some are tiny), shooting at you and dropping mines.

A touch-anywhere control pad puts you in the pilot's seat, with perpetual auto-fire engaged, as mentioned previously.

In addition to the core gameplay mode, Minotaur Rescue features four other playmodes, as well. There's Survival mode, where you've got just one life in a bid to score as highly as possible before obliteration. There's also Deep Space Minotaur Madness which is like the core gameplay mode, but with only the Asteroids elements in place (plus minotaurs) — no sun and associated gravity. And, perhaps oddly, there's also the Tanks! and Jets! modes, which are like the simple playmodes of the pack-in Atari VCS cartridge Combat. But, of course, with a heavy dose of psychedelia and floating minotaurs to pick up along the way.

The game features solo play, as well as (for those who have friends) two person play on the same iPhone and up to four person play on the same iPad. OpenFeint and Game Center integration are both in place, here.

See Minotaur Jeff demonstrating the game on an iPad.

Minotaur Rescue makes use of Llamasoft's new Neon 2 game engine for iOS, an evolution of the original Neon "light synthesizer" engine, which powers the XBOX 360's music visualizer and Space Giraffe title. According to Minter, Neon 2 is much improved as compared to the original, featuring a cleaner framework and a lot more bang-for-the-buck in terms of shader usage.

As fan of Minter's work, and of retro titles in general, I've had a blast with Solar Minotaur Rescue Frenzy, but also feel that the simple yet challenging gameplay may appeal to a wider audience, as well.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Anonymous

    A Jeff Minter game - I'm on it. Jeff's games always remind of the Tempest/Stargate days of arcade addiction.. which is a good thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dimitris-Katsafouros/666754640 Dimitris Katsafouros

    The controls look horrible.
    Hope it's a good game but I certainly won't try it out even if it's only .99 cents.
    I think it has to do more with the fact that I don't understand the excitement about retro gaming...

    • nyarla

      nah the controls are awesome! once they click they feel just perfect.
      though i much prefer playing with my forefinger than with a thumb as shown in the video. really fun game.

    • Anonymous

      you must be younger than 20 then? this game truly is amazing, and i really feel like i'm back in the 80s playing in an arcade. I love modern games, but some games that try and feel retro with that high score appeal just don't do it right. This game does it *perfect*.

      in regard to the controls, they are different from what we'e seen before. All you have to do though is imagine that you are spinning a trackball. The controls work great.

    • abitofcode

      Retro gaming was a time where gameplay was king, you couldn't hide behind slick graphics and cut scenes which is probably why they are still very popular.

      Developers from that period tend to know how to squeeze the most fun from a piece of hardware rather that producing the typical shovelware that accompanies most new hardware releases.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CLRJQQEJJ7WMUL3S2HMP5DONNY Dave

      The controls are actually much easier to use than the original Asteroids. Amazing game. Probably spent close to $100 on iPad games, and this $1 title has provided more enjoyment than the other $99 combined.

  • http://twitter.com/iPad140 iPad app reviews

    This makes me very happy, not just because I nearly beat Jeff at Hellgate on the Vic-20 at a Commodore show about 27 years ago.

    Dimitris: the retro appeal is to do with gameplay: speed and skill, something that games like Blue Defense! and Tilt to Play have bought into the modern era. Unfortunately no Defender or Elevator Action (Spy vs. Spy) on iOS yet

  • MarcG

    This game is great. Just play for a while in Deep Space mode and the controls will click.

    I admit it, I used to HATE Asteroids. It was one of those games I wanted to love, but just never got on with the controls. If it had these controls I would have loved it!

    • MarcG

      Has this article disappeared from the homepage?

  • dave

    What a complete fail.Minotaurs don't wear pants!How fake.
    ;-)

  • The O Show

    I agree with "the controls are good". 300,000+ on my 2nd attempt so they must be pretty intuitive. This is easily Jeff Minter's best game ever. Even he admits that the old games live fondly in our memories but were seriously hampered by the hardware they had to run on. If his next game(s) on iOS are this good, it will be quite an achievement and I'll be more than pleased to buy them.

  • Rickard

    ain't gotten used to the controls yet, but I just love the style! Retro is just pure gold!

  • EastsideStompers

    Brilliant game. Love it! Now, how can I see my scores without having to launch Open Feint?

    • EastsideStompers

      10 cups of tea and a good chunk of game time later, I have a few thoughts if I may be so bold:
      1) A bug - Sometimes when I double-tap the centre of the screen when 'game over', everything freezes and I have to reboot my device to get the game running again.
      2) I still can't find a way to view my scores, unless I log-on to OF and unless I had a good enough run to be in the top 25. Would be really nice to have somewhere in-game where you can view your personal top 10 scores, no matter how crap they are...
      3) Jets - I'm..um..not very good at this one, lol. The controls are a bit 'pat your head rub your stomach'. Would it be possible to have an option to use the main game controls instead?
      4)Maybe a slider to control the glow/blur effects? Or a simple on/off button.

      Otherwise, utter bovine brilliance! : )

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1366756683 Allen Ibrahim

    Did you forget to mention that it's only available on iTouch 3G and up? I gave Jeff Minter my dollar and now I can't play his awesome-looking game on my stupid 2G Touch.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EAVQRNUI7IBL4JO3N6663QFS2I James Kochalka

      I have a 3rd generation 8GB ipod touch running iOS 4.2.1 and it says mine is not compatible either! I don't know why... according to the app store page I should be fine.

      edit: I guess mine really is 2nd generation, even though it's one of the models that was released at the exact same time as the 3rd generation.

  • Pippo

    Asteroids redux with 80s graphics and need at least a 3GS ??? c'mon Jeff you can do better...

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  • Quickwhisky

    Jeff is Mint[er]. I loved all his games back in the day. His ideas were always different but very well implemented and executed.

    The problem is the same today as it was back then. Some people just don't want to try something different, the excuse? It's just a this or that clone. Rubbish, Jeff always has subtle and obvious differences and one big thing I always liked was his control systems. He always tried to make a different way of controlling a character, ship or whatever.

    I off to get this no question..

  • http://www.buyarmoirefurniture.net/ the armoire

    good to see jeff on the ios platform its been too long since i experienced the shroomy madness that llamasoft is so good at

Minotaur Rescue Reviewed by Blake Patterson on . Rating: 3.5