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Continuing our best 59p iPhone game theme, this week I've been playing about with Chillingo's pint-sized iPod Touch/iPhone shooting game Minigore. In summary, biting, black furry things run at you from all sides, and you, John Gore - a square-jawed, Clint Eastwood-esque, all-American hero - must fend them off by shooting their faces with your gun.
The controls revolve around two virtual sticks in the bottom corners, the left-hand one for the direction of movement and the other for the direction of fire (which is constant if you're touching the right-hand stick). The setup works really well, despite the fact of my suffering slightly from the, by now ubiquitous, 'big-thumbs-cover-screen' issue. However, if you have normal sized thumbs, I'm confident you'll find it an intuitive, well-balanced and eminently usable scheme.
Three sizes of furry bad guys fit one inside the other, so shooting a big-un spawns some mediums, which in turn spawn more little-uns, and thus enemy are not exactly few and far between. In addition to the three sizes of furry, flaming versions appear that are super-fast and will outrun you (robbing you of your one non-weaponry related 'edge'), unless laid to rest swiftly.
The lush, stylish visuals bring a real sense of class to the experience.
John begins with a rapidly firing machine gun, but occasionally a special pick-up appears (in the form of a crate), that gives you limited use of a powerful double-barrelled shotgun. While it might sound dubiously advantageous, in the context of how many incessantly marauding enemy he faces, the fact that Mr Gore is blessed with infinite ammunition is less an unrealistic advantage, more an absolute necessity.
The iPhone graphics are pleasantly manifest in a kind of blocky cartoon style and are really nicely rendered. There is only one (woodland) landscape, but you get a fair amount of mileage out of this one arena without the experience starting to feel too samey. The lush, stylish visuals bring a real sense of class to the experience, which is all the more impressive given that once the game begins you feel like you barely get a split second to register anything other than the direction of your next chomping attacker. The sound also works very well with a nice choice of music and some great sound effects, supplemented by amusing commentary from John Gore himself. Aesthetically speaking, Minigore punches well above its weight.
It's a tense experience to be constantly hounded by chomping critters - basically once you start, you have to stay on the run and there is little in the way of respite. One nice touch is that once you've collected three cloverleaves (occasionally dropped by vanquished foe) you turn into a flaming bull, which gores all surrounding attackers. This gives you a chance to create a small pocket of breathing space if things are getting a little hectic. However, you have to remain aware that you will soon return to mortal John-ness, so you have to trade off offensive and defensive considerations.
Minigore manages to get the balance just right between the simplicity and repetitiveness.
Although it's pretty intense, I found it less overwhelming than Chillingo's previous frantic iPhone shooter iDracula, I think mostly because of its more cartoonish visual style and the simpler, less crowded interface. For my money, Minigore manages to get the balance just right between the simplicity and repetitiveness of what you have to do and the speed and frequency at which you have to do it, wrapping the frantic action up in a pleasing visual style that makes the whole thing work really well. In addition to fitting the quick, dip in, dip out mobile game mould well, the experience has an old-school arcade aspect to it, which can only be testimony to a very well conceived and implemented piece of game design.
There isn't masses of depth currently on offer with Minigore, but given what happened with the extensions to iDracula, and the fact that mention of a multiplayer mode has already been made on its App Store page, even if you're not currently convinced that its 59p tag offers value (which frankly I am), then you can fairly confidently expect more Minigore for your money in time.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: