In which the black ox with the blue star out of Super Ox Wars takes an occasional look at games we like which aren’t actually ours.
This game was recommended to me by one of its creators, who thought I might enjoy it; and indeed I do, it’s rather nice. It’s called “Monotaur”.
Of course that’s a headstart right away; getting me to take notice of a game is going to be significantly easier if there is a hint of minotaurishness about it. The game itself is almost entirely abstract, its boanthropic reference pared down to nothing more than a tiny circular blob with teeny little horns which somehow nevertheless manages to be quite cute.
It’s a tilt game, and I’m not usually much of a one for tilt games, but this one manages to be quite fun and compelling for such a simple thing. The basic gameplay mode is simply this: you can move your little horny blob round the screen by tilting, and touching the screen causes it to flip between black and white states. As alluded to in the screenshot above, think Ikaruga. (Never played Tilt to Live also mentioned there but I imagine it’s some kind of tilty avoid-em-up).
Various other blobs rez in, sometimes randomly and sometimes in formations, sometimes black and sometimes white. You have to avoid the ones not your current colour, and poke the others with your tiny horns. Like in Ikaruga you earn “chains” for successive undefeated hornings. You attempt to survive as long as possible (in the endurance-style play modes) or to get to the end losing as few lives as possible (in the timed versions) whilst racking up the biggest chain-score you can as you go. It sounds dead simple and it really is not a complex game, but for all its simplicity it is quite addictive and fun.
Other gameplay modes can be unlocked through play (or by paying 69p to unlock everything, which I did, more because I liked the game and wanted to get rid of the ad that otherwise appears at the end of every level than to skip the unlocking process).
Rage Mode has you scuttling around avoiding the baddies as long as possible whilst picking up “Rage” powerups. By stacking these you can unleash circular blasts of destruction in ever larger radii, your objective being to collect up as much Rage as possible before detonating it, thereby killing as many enemy blobs as possible in a single blast.
There’s a Pacifist Mode where you eschew horn use altogether and just avoid everything for as long as you can (memories of Geom Wars there). And there’s a Master Mode where chains don’t carry over between polarity changes, encouraging you to risk staying one colour as long as possible to get the biggest chain even if it’d be safer perhaps to switch.
Subtle variants on the basic theme which are sufficient to make each of the four variants distinctly enjoyable in their own ways.
Presentation is very tidy, the graphics sparse and abstract and monochrome but nonetheless stylish and even a little bit cute (the little horns!). There’s an appropriately thumping tune that builds in intensity the longer your scoring run goes on.
If you liked Ikaruga and are a fan of the progressively sphincter-tightening sort of feeling you get from these type of chain/avoid games then definitely give this a go, it’s fun and there’s no piss taking with the IAP, just 69p to unlock everything and fuck the ads off, if anything it’s too cheap; any game that’s halfway decent and which entertains you deserves at least a couple of quid I’d say. Bugger 69p, I think it does more harm than good to game development in the end.
But I digress, so I’ll finish off pimping this stylish and very slightly bovine game – give it a try, even if you’re not particularly into tilt games and don’t know what an Ikaruga even is. You may well enjoy it just as I did.
The only thing which could have made it better would have been the occasional minotaurish grunt .