Early last month, noted gamemaker Jeff Minter released Solar Minotaur Rescue Frenzy [App Store], the first title in his Minotaur Project, an effort to release a series of new games in the style of the hardware of days long past, but without any of the limitations of the original platforms. Over the past weeks we've noted with anticipation (and some fear) Jeff's tweets, providing hints at the progress of the second game in this effort -- at least, we seriously hope that's what all those tweets were about... In any case, Jeff has just given us the best hint of all: an exclusive preview build of the game, known as Minotron: 2112, which turns out to be an enhanced iPhone / iPad (universal) remake of his 1991 shooter Llamatron: 2112.

Llamatron, which was originally released as shareware for the Atari ST, was a shooter inspired by Eugene Jarvis' Robotron: 2084. The game plays more or less like a single-stick version of Robotron -- wander about the playfield shooting baddies and not getting killed, but you're a llama instead of a superhuman and its beasties instead of helpless civilians you're rescuing. Minotron plays basically the same, but this time around, you're a minotaur, and things have gone dual (virtual) stick, so what you get feels a whole lot like Robotron, but on acid (which is a phrase that could be used to describe a great many of Jeff's creations).

Minotron offers four modes of play: Normal, which is the standard "dual stick" mode with lots of power-ups to be had; Assisted, where you are assisted by an indestructible helper droid and less power-ups are available; Simplified, where the player only has to move and avoid being killed, aiming and firing are automatic; and Hard, where only the power-ups from the original Llamatron are available.

The game's control system features temporally separated movement and aiming touches; the first thumb to contact the screen becomes the movement thumb, and the second becomes the aiming thumb, which provides a nice bit of control flexibility. (The developer suggests players may find that the use of an occasional swipe to alter the firing direction, as opposed to a constant touch to the "stick," is the better way to go and minimizes thumb obscuring screen.) And, in any playmode, the trippy visuals provided by Llamasoft's new Neon 2 engine are in full effect, as is the amusing cacophony of explosions, blasts, and bleats.

See our brief gameplay video of just the first few levels of the game.

As mentioned previously, the game is not quite finished; Jeff indicates that about a week or two's worth of finishing touches -- level balance tweaks, new enemy graphics, leaderboards and achievements, etc. -- should get it in order for submission to the App Store. And when Minotron: 2112 lands, unless one of the last minute tweaks is to scrape off all the awesome that's smeared all over this preview build, retro fans and arcade shooter fans alike are in for some serious, white-knuckle beastie saving.

  • Triggur

    Go Yak!

  • Rad

    Looks like a Great Robotron clone

  • Anonymous

    Sweet Jesus, that man is criminally insane.

    Do want.

  • Anonymous

    The Jeff Minter approach to game design: Take any popular classic game, completely overcook the visuals and gameplay mechanics so that everything is needlessly confusing and unwieldy (it's "art"), and throw in some ungulates for no real reason.

    • Anonymous

      FUCKING A! IT'S GENIUS!

    • Anonymous

      Was this supposed to be criticism? Because this is part of what makes many of his games awesome. (Although I've yet to find one that is "unweildy" except maybe his first iOS game.) Not everything he's done is an arcade redux either.

      • http://twitter.com/sleepwalkers Mac

        Just about everything he's done in the past 15-20 years has been either inspired by or has direct lineage to some classic arcade game.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, most of it. Hover Bovver was an original though.

      • Viper7

        And your point is what? He does what he does, and he does it well. Some of us like it, if you don't, do not play it.

    • Fred

      And your point is?

  • Rafi

    I. Am. Psyched. Bring it on.

  • Pageabsent

    Someone tell that stupid hippy that it isn't 1983 anymore!

    • Anonymous

      Usually only people born after 1995 have that mentality. Get off of our lawn you stupid kids.

      In all seriousness, I have gotten way more fun out of trying to beat my high score in Minotaur Rescue than any other high-score based game on iOS (or any platform). That game requires some serious dexterity! Holy shit, I mean has anyone here gotten past level 15?!?!

      • lukwtwz

        Level 38 - but only once.

      • lukwtwz

        ...On iPad, it's only fair to say

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, he should be making super hi def games where you can spot the pot marks on a dude's skin! Add blood, guns, cursing and shallow game play, like most of today's, non-Indy games, and you're in! Speaking of which, all the great indy games you see today are from developers who would have probably been hippies back in the 80's.

    • Robotron2084

      STFU kid.

    • Inspector

      You do not obviously have a clue: respect the Man, he's an institution, may I suggest you to go on Llamasoft page and download his classics first, then come back.
      Cheers!

    • Fred

      But Loads of People want retro games!!

  • Adams Immersive

    Nice Intellivision boot screen!

  • fafner

    PLEASE tell me this is gonna be universal!!

    • http://toucharcade.com blakespot

      Yes, as stated in the writeup.

  • EastsideStompers

    Lovin' those sound effect!

    • EastsideStompers

      Should have been an 's' on the end there: / Obviously I'm going through a minimalist phase...

  • Robotron2084

    Awesome.

    Will buy.

  • Anonymous

    EXCELLENT! Oh, how I played Llamatron on the ST back in the day. This is an absolute instabuy for me. I'm absolutely diggin' the classic sound effects, too, really brings me back.

  • Big Huge Nerd

    zomg Atari ST FTW!!! This is a day-1 buy!

  • Dmarcoot

    im buying that. no question. also, STFU kid.

  • ryohki

    this was *easily* my favourite Atari ST game when I was a kid.
    Oh My God.

  • Kurt_F.

    Anyone catch the downsampled re-sampling (hahahaha) from Yello's "I Love You" at 1:04? SO much respect, Jeff!!!! Very psyched for this game!

  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

    I wish Jeff would throw in some 8-bit chip tunes to his games. Using only sound effects take a lot away from any gaming experience.

  • Inspector

    I'm so glad Jeff is developing on iOS and bringing out these games, really looking forward to this: the Neon2 engine is marvellous, gameplay looks to die for (having a lor of fun with Minotaur Rescue) and sfx are top-notch crazy. What can I say: really hope the next title in the serie is an Iridis Alpha remix!! One of the best games ever, IMHO.. Go Go Llamasoft!

    • Mike_011972

      Yeah, Iridis Alpha was an amazing game. Also loved Grid Runner once I got in to it.
      He's got to do a Tempest remake on the iOS as well thou.

  • lukwtwz

    As good as the first iOS Minter game is overall, it's still on probation for its centrally located Pause--->Exit having cost me some UnagreedUponAggravation (i.e. losing for the right reasons is supposed to be frustrating), in exchange for its low monetary cost, as a result of the score forfeitures it facilitated - more than those of any iOS game I've played. Indeed, if I hadn't known who had made the game, I would have considered the whole project to be a kind of practical joke played on the iOS retro gaming community; an app flaw that should make avid action gamers think twice before investing any chunk of time for a "run" on iOS. It would only require a "disable pause" option to remedy.

  • Whiteball

    I love mino rescue and this looks just as awesome.

    The problem today seems to be people do not understand that games of this nature were/are all about trying, trying and trying a little more until you become proficient and skilled enough to get a highscore. Then you try to beat that score etc.

    The most ridiculous thing I have seen is in some comments for mino rescue, people asking for a 'sensitivity' slider for the controls! How can that not be akin to cheating. If your score is better than mine, fair enough if you have practiced, learned and mastered the controls and difficulty level. Not fair if your score is better than mine if you have dumbed down the controls to make it easier for yourself.

    People just want instant gratification without putting in any effort these days. No doubt this is why they play their games for a few days and then move on to the next, ad infinitum. Jeffs games have always had that 'one more go' playability because you know with that little more practice and care, you will beat your score and other peoples too.

  • Anonymous

    I'm excited for it, but somewhat put off by the strong similarity to Robotron, I must admit. But only because I really want the real Robotron 2084. Oh well. Hopefully this will more then do, and I *love* Minotaur Rescue.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FLG6IUDA6RU6226ZSCZYSWYQYE John Richardson

      Jailbreak + iMame4All + Robotron2084 ROM + Datel Retro Wireless Controller. A great combination.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VFWZC4LFQMSLH3KXHLOPHUIG7I Alexander Locasio

      Honestly llamatron was way better than Robotron, a lot more going on basically. Give it a try.

  • Anonymous

    Think I'm going to have to cave in and order those fling controllers for iPad. There's already enough virtual dual stick shooters to warrant the purchase. Minotron 2112 just sealed the deal.

  • Decoy Octopus

    Whats up with all these pixelated games coming out. Lame!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VFWZC4LFQMSLH3KXHLOPHUIG7I Alexander Locasio

      Its a design choice, retro...

  • Lukwtwz

    Apart from the consideration of how pathetic it is that Minter needs to constantly boast about the scores and levels reached in his own, publically unavailable game, Minotron should be great.

    • stinky ox

      Except I haven't, at all. I've shown screenshots from the game in development but at no point have I done any score bragging. I've mentioned items that can be obtained for good play because hey, people might find it cool to know what they can unlock. What's 'pathetic' is making up stuff that blatantly isn't true to whinge about.

      • Lukwtwz

        OK,levels, not scores. It was libelous to say you of bragged about scores, when in fact it was the level reached about which you boasted.

      • stinky ox

        what I did was post showing something cool that you could get if you did really well in the game (a little pink pony AI droid). I said 'you'll have to be good to get this!". It's hardly a boast, since I am the developer, and as such I can have anything I want in the game when I am testing. It was just showing people something cool they can get.

        The truth is that as the game's developer i really like it when my own scores get beaten. It's cool to see people getting better than me. It proves that I build no special advantage into the game for me alone - if you're a better player than me then you'll beat me. It'd be pretty sad if I really genuinely expected to be the best at my own game.

        I think it's fun to put up some scores for people to beat, and I think it's excellent when I *am* beaten, and if anything it gives extra bragging rights for those who do beat me - "I'm such a good player, I beat the designer!". I *want* that to happen.

        If I made a game and nobody ever beat my score I'd consider that a huge failure, to be honest.

  • Andrea

    Llamasoft is (oh wait. Let me think about it one more time. Yes, I'm pretty shure!) the best what happened to iOS and all the Retrofreaks like me out there.

    GO YAK!

    And bring the damn Tempest out ... This year ... Pleaze?!

    • Robot

      You could always take a look at Killatron 2112.

  • stinky ox

    I've put a bit about the design of Minotron here: http://minotaurproject.co.uk/blog/

  • Kieronmarten

    Great to see Jeff Minter taking the trouble to bring back all those yesteryear games we all loved, but without the restrictions. For those brought up on Vic 20's & C64's, it's retro relived on the Ipad. Well done Jeff, looking forward to see more of your classic style!

  • JoseO42

    I have this game along with some of the other games that he has released on iOS and they are a lot of fun to play with. Jeff really knows how to program games that are not only fun but visually appealing.