Caverns of Minos Review

By , on January 23, 2012

Caverns of Minos
  • Publisher: Llamasoft
  • Genre: Action
  • Released: 17 Jan, 2012
  • Size: 8.3 MB
  • Price: $0.99
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4 out of 5


  • Gameplay feels fresh despite dense references to classic shooters.
  • Simple and inspired controls; keeps the screen clear while providing fidelity.
  • Harder modes go the extra mile by modifying how the game is played and not just the enemies themselves.


  • Mish-mash of styles including rather childish effects can be hard, if not impossible for some to enjoy.
  • No sensitivity options for controls; stuck with what you're given.


Llamasoft and in particular Jeff Minter once again manages to densely pack an arcade game with concepts inspired from classic titles as well as Minter's clear auteur style; it's a shooter that both attracts and repels you, making it almost the Vegemite of gaming.

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I think I'm slowly getting it - by 'it' I mean Llamasoft, and by 'get' I mean I'm not sure if I'm just losing my mind or if their games have simply grown on me like some sort of hyper-color retro-tastic mold. Their latest arcade focused title Caverns of Minos may owe its inspirations to titles like Caverns of Mars, but in typical style the game will either inspire joy thanks to its many self-referencing gags and over-the-top mash-up of gameplay, or will simply feel like an unholy mess; in other words, it's Llamasoft doing what they do best.

Amongst the terrifyingly eye-watering hyper-color pixelated visuals lies a game with roots that tendril along some of Atari's greatest including Asteroids. Much like its inspirational title, your aim is to plunge in to the depths of a hostile pit, avoiding or decimating enemies in turn; collecting an object at the bottom (be it a piece of cheese, an ox, or something even more abstract); and then attempting to reach the mother-sheep at the start before running out of fuel or shields.

These last two can be replenished by collecting minotaurs and are often best saved for the trip up as you encounter far more resistance from the enemies that range from bouncing asteroids to Space Invader-esque aliens and minotaurs cosplaying as robots from Robotron: 2084. Thankfully the controls provide a surprising amount of fidelity, with the thrust and swipe-to-move controls also being paired with tilt-based aiming for the bullets spewing forth from your ship.

Should the challenge prove to be too simple you can kick things up a notch by selecting different vehicles, with the last being reserved for an Asteroids-ship with insane firepower and game-appropriate controls.

Caverns of Minos is a cacophony of styles, themes and inspirations bundled in Llamasoft's typically childish sensibilities ('fart' sounds for firing enemies are not uncommon). Despite its rough appearance, the game features a solid core of fast and furiously challenging gameplay, though your ability to stand playing the game will depend on whether you 'get it' as well.


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