Pick up and play gaming has returned to the iPhone at last. While we’re always excited to see apps that push the boundaries of portable gaming, there’s still a lot to be said for games you can instantly get involved in when you have a spare five minutes. Minigore is one such game; simple, effective and great looking. After a load time of a few seconds, by comparison to the tea break-length startups we’re begrudgingly getting used to, one tap of the screen drops you straight into the action.
You take on the role of John Gore, a kind of square-headed Chuck Norris, whose sole purpose is to defend himself from onrushing creatures named “furries” of which there are several different types. One bite from a Furry sees damage done to your character, allow a second and you’re Furry food.
Control-wise, Minigore provides two pads at the lower left and right of the screen when held horizontally. The left controls the character’s movement while the right fires and aims your gun. As game controls go, this is the perfect method for the type of frantic survival tactics you’ll need when playing Minigore and the game reacts well and plays fluidly. While you have the option to turn the pad displays off to avoid distraction, it’s all too easy to miss an on-rushing Furry hidden by your thumb which can, especially in the latter stages of the game, become very frustrating.
Concentration, Red Bull-fuelled reactions and a cool head are what you’ll need to score highly in Minigore as the Furries get bigger and more numerous. Four different enemies are ready to take a bite out John Gore: the Minifurry, Furry, Giant Furry and the Firefurry. While the Giant Furry is a worry due to the way it spits out more Furries when shot, the Firefurry is the one you need to look out for and use all of your available powerups before you become surrounded. As you progress through the game you’ll discover four-leaf clovers which, when you collect three, offer you a burst of invincibility for a few seconds of sheer carnage. Aside from your machine gun which, thankfully, never runs out of ammunition, you can also collect a shotgun which does a decent amount of damage. Weapons appear as crates which you’ll find scattered around the landscape periodically and they can also be used as a handy explosive device when repeatedly shot which can reduce the pressure as things get more hectic.
Online highscores, provided by the excellent OpenFeint, show the top Minigore players hitting above the 20,000 point mark while we struggled to break two thousand in the first few hours of play. An Expert mode is available on the Settings screen to crank things up from the start once you get good.
The music in Minigore is great (although somewhat repetitive) but, now we’re all OS 3.0 crazy, the option to pick tracks from your own iPod library is also available. We did find it occasionally sluggish when browsing tracks, but it’s nice to be able to handpick individual playlists of tracks rather than simply play a whole album through.
As we said, this is a true pick up and play game. Easy to get into, difficult to put down. When you start playing, you may think you’ll tire of the same map, weapons and features but, just wait until you realise Minigore has taken so much of your time you haven’t eaten, shaved or showered in three days. Regardless, the game is due for an update anyway, with episode two already submitted to the App Store boasting new abilities and save/restore features and Episodes 3 and 4 are on their way with multiplayer among other updates.
All this and the application is still only 59p ($0.99), which makes Minigore even easier to get hooked on.
Fun Factor: 9.0
Value For Money: 8.8
Kung Fu Verdict: 8.8