iOS gaming: Trio of Llamasoft

Of all the mobile games that’s kept me occupied during downtime moments whilst on holiday it’s these three games from veteran coder Jeff Minter of Llamasoft. All three are incredibly addictive, easy to pick up and play, button bashing arcade games that are lavished with retro style graphics and sound effects and contain multiple control configurations that simply work so well.

Have all of these ingredients in a mobile game and I’d buy it, inject a healthily dose of the Minter-ism, with it’s wacky humour and pure bizarreness and it’s a sure winner.

Goat Up

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A truly bizarre title that see’s you running and jumping from platform to platform grazing on the grass, getting fat and multiplying, collecting all manner of random bonus items and kissing goats. Yup, kissing goats gives you a nice scoring bonus as weird as it might seem. Welcome to Llamasoft!

Loving the references to iconic gaming sprites like the robots from Berzerk, the Amiga Boing ball, Mutant Camels and the themed levels that pay tribute to classics 8-bit games like Manic Miner and Bounty Bob and Jet Set Willy.

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As you jump up from level to level, the screen scrolls down with the bottom most levels disappearing. You have to keep your goat constantly on the move and jumping up to avoid dropping of the bottom of the screen. It makes for one intense game and you’ll be back time and time again to see if you can progress a little bit further.

Caverns of Minos

This games takes inspiration from a couple of classic games such as Thrust, Scramble and Caverns of Mars and adds amongst others sheep motherships, underpants and minotaurs – yes my blog is usually prone to the odd typo but believe me, all these items are actually in the game.

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Guide your craft down into the cavern to retrieve an item for you mother sheep. Along the way you can pick up hitch hiking minotaurs for bonus points and destroy fuel pods to keep your ever depleting fuel from running out. Those cavern walls can be quite tricky to navigate at the best of times and impacts will reduce your limited shields, throw in alien craft, rockets and farting SAM sites into the mix makes your journey even more precarious.

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This is one tough game and at times can be a tad frustrating sometimes. Practise and mastery of the sensitive controls are the order of the day.

Gridrunner.

Jeff once stated that he wasn’t going to churn out unoriginal ports of his own early games if he couldn’t bring anything new to the game especially as folk could pretty much play the originals via emulation. Well I’ll always love the originals (especially the chunky VIC-20 version) but this new remake is one superb shooter of a game. In fact, even if you haven’t played the original Gridrunner or indeed haven’t even heard of Llamasoft, get Gridrunner, you won’t be disappointed.

Gridrunner take inspiration from Centipede where the object is the same as the arcade classic, blast away the enemy craft which snakes down from the top of the screen. Gridrunner adds two laser cannons that patrols the left and top of the screen that both fire at random or if you cross their path.

The gameplay has been tweaked, enemy objects and bullets on screen have been increased giving plenty of those ‘bullet hell’ moments us Schmup fans love. Weapon upgrades have been added too, including some ‘right back-atcha screen filling cannons’ 🙂

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I was playing Gridrunner the other day in my iCade (all three of these games support the iCade) and moved the screen from portrait to landscape mode. What a great surprise!

All three games are a worthy edition to you iOS gaming collection and if your a gamer of old, will love the vintage gaming references contained within. I would love to know how he mirrored that classic Atari speech at the beginning of Caverns of Minos…thought I was back on Gauntlet for a second there!

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