We recently got our hands on a preview build of Minigore, an upcoming dual-stick survival shooter from Chillingo and Mountain Sheep. From what we saw, the game is coming along nicely, with what may just be the right formula for success.
The first thing that stands out is the art style. You play as the block-headed John Gore, who fights off equally block-shaped enemies called the Furry. Everything is rendered in a grassy 2D environment, full of 3D objects such as rocks, brush and trees. These don’t act as obstacles in the sense that you can walk through them, but they do cover up your vision, making for hairy encounters with Furries.
The Furries come in all shapes and sizes. There is the tiny Minifurry, Furry, Giant Furry and a faster-than-light Firefurry. John’s gun shoots laser-like bullets at them, which divide larger Furries into Minifurries so they can be killed. To say the least, these enemies are formidable foes.
The game includes three distinct weapons. You start off using a machine gun with unlimited ammo. Furries can drop crates that hold either exploding booby traps or shotguns, which give you a little extra kick but have limited ammo.
However, there is also another way to plow through the Furries, quite literally. If you collect three of the four-leaf clovers dropped by Furries, you turn into a flaming beast that squishes Furries of all sizes like ants. Add in some sweet banjo music, and you have got yourself one hardcore package. Now it just needs more cowbell.
Instead of using the classic health bar to show how much life Mr. Gore has left, this is shown instead through his physical state. For example, at the start of the game he is fully intact with his hat on, but as the Furries get to him, he gradually gets bloodier until he dies. Yes, the game is full of gore (pun intended).
Some other features of Minigore that we did not get a chance to try out were online scoring provided by OpenFeint, and expert mode, which will allow those hunting for high scores to jump into the heat of things quicker. iPod library access will be supported, and an in-game messaging system will be implemented that will allow you to challenge other players to beat your score, just like ngmoco’s Plus+ network. There is also apparently voice acting for John Gore as well.
But all this is just ‘episode one’. After speaking with Timo Vihola, create director of the project, we got a first look at what is coming in the second episode and beyond.
Episode two will include ‘more of everything,’ Vihola said. For example, Mr. Gore will speak more, health will be shown in three stages (currently there are only two) with the additional one being Gore with a headband on, and levels will include a fence to show the boundaries. Vihola also hinted at a new gameplay mechanic: ‘The mysterious transforming mushroom makes its appearance in the second episode…’
Beyond this second update, which is already in the works, there will be a wide range of other features (many of which can be previewed in the trailer of the game). First and foremost, there will be co-op where one player is John Gore and another is his 9-year-old daughter. New snow and desert areas are scheduled, each with a special costume for Gore such as a fur cap and cowboy hat.
As far as enemies go, there a whole slew of them. These include King Furry, Wormwolf, Old Man Tackle, Lumberjacks, Cossacks and Green Grunts. Vihola said each enemy will be unique in the way they play, and we are curious to see how they come out. As expected, you will need new ways of crushing these enemies, so there will be new weapons, including the sheep cannon, dual-wielding machine guns and an assault helicopter.
Now, you may ask when the feature of most interest to you is coming. What if we told you it was all in your hands? Vihola said they are going to let the users vote on what feature they want to see. There will be a poll after each episode, and the most popular of them will get implemented in the next update. They already did something like this with the game’s tagline, ‘Tiny Creatures, Giant Adventure.’
We also asked Vihola how Minigore will tie into Hardgore, the tower defense-style sequel. While he could not tell us too much at this point, he said there is a larger backstory that will be revealed at a later point and that both games would feature John Gore as the protagonist. It will also be a much larger game, which will be reflected in the price. One of the things Vihola said that really grabbed our attention was that ‘the genre is not literally ‘Tower defense’ and I think ‘Village defense’ might be a more fitting description. Oh, and it has Santa and penguins!’
If all of these features come through, Minigore will not be so tiny after all. The first episode has been completed with a likely price of $0.99.