Last month we posted a short preview of the upcoming GoatUp [link] (then to be called Goat Goes Up) from ungulate adoring game developer Jeff Minter. GoatUp is a retro-inspired platform game -- Llamasoft's first ever, in fact -- and is a title I've spent a great deal of time with over the last week or so. The game has just gone live in the App Store, so let's take a look.

GoatUp is a platform game of the endless climber sort that, according to Minter, draws inspiration from several oldschool platformers, including the Atari 2600 title Man Goes DownNebulus / Tower Toppler, and Rainbow Island. The game puts you in control of a cute little nanny goat faced with a never-ending, downward scrolling tower bristling with platforms. Your job is to climb as high as you can by deftly jumping from platform to platform as they scroll off the bottom of the screen. It's a mechanic that's pretty well represented in the App Store, but GoatUp is full of twists (so to speak) that make it something special.

You start the game off at the bottom of the tower in a zone of grassy platforms. As you run back and forth, making your way up the ever-scrolling tower, you eat the grass and reveal eclectic arrays of bonus items that, once found, can be picked up for points -- the higher up the tower, the more points per item. Every so often you'll encounter an amorous billy goat who you can "kiss" to start your belly growing. A bit more grass consumed and it's - plunk - time for congoatulations, mommy goat! Your new little kid follows along right behind you as you do your thing on the platforms. Kiss lots of billy goats to build up a chain of kids that follow you around like a tail and help pick up bonus items and power-ups, gain more points, and knock off the baddies wandering the platforms a little higher up.

Like most of Minter's games, GoatUp bundles up a focused style of gameplay, trippy visuals (watch out for the poison mushrooms!) and a pixellated retro style that, together, evoke a sense of arcade gaming as it once was. This latest from Llamasoft, however, takes the stroll down memory lane to another level, thanks to the particular designs of the various zones you encounter in ascending the tower. After the grassy zone, you find yourself moving through a progression of zones with platforms and baddies styled after various well loved games of days gone by (as rendered on the ZX Spectrum), such as Miner 2049er, Manic Miner and Canyon Climber (whence came your goat). And, with the various platform styles come different platform behaviors. Remember Manic Miner's disintegrating floors? That's what we're talking about here. Conveyor belts, too.

GoatUp is a universal app that runs natively on both the iPhone and iPad. It features mirrored swipe / tap goat control, as well as a tilt option well suited to the smaller devices. Just after the game was submitted to the App Store, the developer added (and demonstrated) iCade support, which should arrive in an update soon. Both OpenFeint and Game Center are integrated to track scores and keep things competitive.

At a glance, and especially in static screenshots, GoatUp might look fairly dismissible given the plethora of endless climbing games in the App Store. The large number of unique elements that mix up the gameplay along with the progressive variation that the heights of the tower bring, however, really set this game apart. Now, that's not to say that it's without fault -- some lively background music would be a nice addition, and the storm of nostalgic icons flying about might seem a shade, well, confusing to the uninitiated. Even so, in the week I've been evaluating GoatUp, it's grabbed as many (and "many" is the word) hours of my time as has a certain other game involving a little fellow wearing a jetpack. That "just one more game" draw is in full effect, here.

I have long counted Jeff Minter's Minotaur Rescue [link] and Minotron: 2011 [link] as two of the very best games in the App Store, and I can tell you that GoatUp solidly lives up to the greatness of those titles. It's quite a different sort of game, but the pieces come together just as nicely.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Danny Perski

    Looks like fun!

  • Anonymous

    I like what's coming up as the goat plows through the grassy platforms. Did I see red robots from Berzerk?

  • Gibberous Crumb

    Great stuff from Jeff. Minotron is probably my game of the year so far in so much as how long I have spent on it. Perfect pick up and play and so far GoatUp is exactly the same.

  • Joblow

    too bad you can't run around the infinite grass-laden tower 360 style a la Nebulus.

    to revive an old discussion... "Nothing like Miner 2049. The goat looks to be mowing through chunks of
    grass set on a rotational cylinder (reminds me of [Nebulus])."

    ... update ... pleeze!?!?

    your humble anonymous fawn.

  • Seventitu

    does anyone remember a game from minter with flying toilets ? every level had different enemies, one of them being the flying toilets. damn can't remember the name... it was on my commodore 64... centuries ago. How I loved it.

  • Seventitu

    Attack of the mutant camels ... found it.
    Memories !

  • Macaroon

    Who would of thought mating with goats would be so much fun...

    • Macaroon

      One thing - Does anyone know if the platforms are random? They seem to be in much the same place each time. I'd also really like to know which games each level is nodding to if anyone knows. Cheers: )

  • Anonymous

    I love it when Jeff puts a new twist on old concepts. BTW the game Nebulus was also called Tower Toppler (on the Atari 7800) and Castelian (on the NES) if you're like me and were having trouble remembering where you've seen this layout before.

  • John Usher

    Wow now I have always liked llamasoft's other titles but I'm really loving this. Everything is spot on the graphics and sounds are both fantastic. Llamasoft do it again.

  • ScoopsUK

    Yep, a pity you can't run around the whole tower ala Nebulus but on the plus side Geoff has based the graphic style of the game on the ZX Spectrum, which can only be a good thing. Later in the video even the audio for the jump changes to that of Miner Willy!

  • Asolja

    In all the years I have seen this guys efforts they all seem pretty much the same,perhaps he cannot create any other graphics?.surley he must know if he omitted the Left movement these games would be much harder (and using the logic of some ppl on this forum) more enjoyable and be worthy of 5 stars.Not to mention leave out the llamas and camels etc.

  • Guest

    I've played this for a day and although it's early to say this might be Llamasoft's finest on iOS. The game is very addictive, the intrinsic rewarding mechanic of the game is the gradual opening up of the richness of the game experience: play further and the game gets better, more nuanced. Temporary super-powers, psychedelic mushrooms, the ever-growing tail of kids which acts as a weapon but only through skilled manipulation... The revolving tower is a bit misleading, I don't think the game resembles Nebulus that much. I suppose the tower does not wrap around because some level planning elements were easier to make work this way.

    • John Usher

      Watch out for them mushrooms they might be pretty but they take points off you.

  • Aulin Fan

    Jeff Minter is the best. I love his graphics, atmosphere, sound and dizzy sprites. Love so much this game..gonna spend a LOT of time on it.

  • Dave

    I have to get this as he is showing my favorite game of all time, Miner 2049'er some love with those mutants and the solidifying the platform color to solid as you run over it.

  • Michael A. Robson

    First Goat Up, now My Horse? Yeah, I can see a really bad theme emerging in recent iOS games...

  • rt

    Goat Can Fly! This game is amazing, once you start having 9 - 12 goaties it becomes super! One of my fav iOS games so far!

  • Anon

    Asphalt 6 is Free!

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GoatUp Reviewed by Blake Patterson on . Rating: 4.5