GIMME INDIE GAME: MINOTAUR CHINA SHOP, HAPPINESS IN SHATTERY


12.11.2008

Brandon Boyer

23 Replies

Minotaur China Shop might not be Flashbang’s most accessible game (that prize would have to go for the much more parent-friendly puzzler Splume), but it is its funniest. It’s not just the latest blog entries from the overly defensive Minotaur himself, though that helps, or that in-game, Flashbang have played everything perfectly, wryly straight, even when the pegasus in leopard print walks in and desires the ‘fancy plate.’ It’s also the more subtle joke that, at heart, China Shop is a subversion of and a gentle dig at the current casual game glut of Diner Dash clones.

But it’s also that, played “right,” Flashbang have perfectly pegged that ever-present anger-management underlying tension. You get that from the Minotaur’s stiff bipedal wobble (who you “drive around” more than “make walk”), as well as the precariousness of the shop packed tight with breakables, and the absurdity of the beast choosing a new profession so dainty at its core (that’s made the juxtaposition an apt cliche from the start). All together, there’s never any doubt that you’re only one misjudged turn away from havoc.

And, smartly, Flashbang have tuned that havoc into just as lucrative an option as playing straight: once the Minotaur has let his rage get the best of him, insurance kicks in and compensates you for every broken item, though you’ll obviously lose your customer base and have to deal with security firing arrows to keep your aggression in check.

Set in five separate days over which you can tune and upgrade both the happiest and angriest play styles as you wish, Minotaur lends itself perfectly to experimentation and replay — exactly what you’d want from a web game — and has instantly rocketed itself to the top handful of our 2008 indie game list.

Minotaur China Shop [Blurst]


COMMENTS

  1. The Poisoned Sponge

    This is bloody marvelous, a wonderful hybrid between careful navigation and mind numbing rage that just keeps on getting more and more amusing each time it’s played. Using ragdolls to keep the minotaur afloat is rather ingenious aswell, allowing him to be clumsy without feeling forced. Brilliant.




  2. The music is strangely excellent. I can’t seem to actually play the game though, the keyboard controls aren’t working for me. Maybe I’ll have to try at home.


  3. Russtolium –

    Once I booted back into Windows and installed Unity, I was unable to get any of the games to work with IE (no controls). However, the controls did seem to work with Firefox.

    However, it would be nice if they would change the front page mention to omit the term Flash, as it is misleading.


  4. Mneptok: Miguel de Icaza, founder of the GNOME and Mono projects, is working on a Unity player linux port: http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2008/Nov-14.html

    Russtolium: Google Chrome and Unity don’t play together, yet (input doesn’t work unless you go full screen). This will be fixed in Unity 2.5, but in the meantime you may need to use a different browser. Sorry!


  5. From anonymous to anonymous:
    Linus users do not use Windows.
    They use Linux.
    That’s why they’re called “Linux users”.



  6. Oh wow I should have noticed that, yeah I was using Chrome. Works perfect in Firefox. Flashbang has an uncanny knack for creating technically impressive and surprisingly well designed web games based off the most brilliantly absurd circumstances of whatever extinct or mythical beast you happen to control.

    They’re starting to build quite a powerful catalog and this is definitely another great entry. Going into a literal flaming rage while ‘security’ shoots you down with arrows is pretty much awesome.


  7. This is such fun!

    Has anyone worked out which is the better strategy: peaceful shop-keeper or bull in a china shop? I haven’t managed to go a single round without going ballistic..

    Well made and great humour in every aspect, brilliant!


  8. Not to double-comment here, but I just played Jetpack Brontosaurus and it is equally rad. These games are absolutely stellar.




  9. Bevatron Repairman

    I’m finding my best scores so far come from a couple of days of earnest sales followed by maxing out my Rage Insurance and going on a rampage. You can sack your store pretty quickly, so at the beginning of each day, try to sell a little bit.

    I like how one gets tunnel vision as one gets angrier and angrier.


  10. Kieran O’Neill

    #6: Good to hear. That site is about as FOSS-unfriendly as it can be, full of VBScript, ActiveX and software that doesn’t run under Linux.

    Game looks nice, though. Well at least from the video. :(


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