modern culture since 1991

Wings over Sealand


The mack daddy of metagaming

Posted on February 25, 2012 by RevStu

Alert WoSland viewers won't need telling that there's nothing this blog enjoys more than a hearty slice of metagaming, and there can be little rational disputing that the modern-day maestro of the form is cranky old code-grump Jeff Minter. The ruminant-loving curmudgeon has just released another retro-flavoured reference-rammed remake onto the App Store, and it's his best work yet.

iOS Gridrunner is the latest in a long line of remakes of Minter's veteran Centipede derivative, and it's a brilliant interpretation. A tiny (12MB) universal app offering both iPhone/iTouch and iPad versions for a single 69p payment, it's got the VIC-20 and C64 games thrown in as bonus freebies and it also supports the iCade. Frankly you'd have to be some manner of total spoon-faced klutz to pass it by.

It's an all-action blast, and while we wouldn't say the MOST fun you can have with it is spotting all the bits he's nicked from classic 80s coin-ops, it's certainly an entertaining diversion. We're bound to have missed loads, but below are all the ones we've spotted so far. See if you can find any that slipped our notice and we'll make a definitive list.

Slow-moving bomb: Space Firebird

Flying saucer and spinning red/blue robot: Uni War S

Most in-game sound effects: Moon Cresta

Sheonite, Kapi and Brag Zakato enemies: Xevious

Pod and Swarmer enemies, end-of-level sound effect: Defender

Insert-credit sound: Galaxian

Warp power-up/speech sample: Astro Blaster

Not yet identified: various effects and the "Thank you" new-life speech sample. Sounds like very early-80s Sega hardware but we can't pin it down. Anyone?

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  1. 09 05 12 02:27

    Gridrunner (iOS) review

22 to “The mack daddy of metagaming”

  1. daneel says:

    Ooh, shall give this a go.
    Did you pick up Midway Arcade yet? My take would be good price, shame about the dodgy controls.

  2. RevStu says:

    Yeah, I bought the core app and the Total Carnage pack. Haven't dared even try Spy Hunter yet, but I thought Defender worked about as well as you could hope on a touch screen.

  3. Rob M says:

    It looks suspiciously like that ship is going to be hidden under my thumb – is this the case?  And does it control normally, or does it have that crappy inertia thing going on like Minotron?

  4. No Name says:

    It's inertia, and the ship does sometimes get hidden by your thumb.

    But it *is* brilliant.

  5. RevStu says:

    It's a dynamic joypad, and a quite different type of one too, so there's really no need for your ship to be hidden by your thumb 99% of the time. (Well, ever, because you shouldn’t be using your thumb.) It took me a minute or two to get used to, but it actually works very well.

  6. Irish Al says:

    The blobs are sort of like Trailers in DropZone.

  7. Irish Al says:

    Also the Thank You could be from King & Balloon.

  8. RevStu says:

    There's no "inertia", incidentally. Lift your finger from the screen and you stop moving immediately.

  9. RevStu says:

    "Also the Thank You could be from King & Balloon."

    No, K&B's is much camper.

  10. art says:

    There's no inertia but there is acceleration. Takes a little while to get used to but it's great once it clicks.

  11. Blucey says:

    On that Midway pack, Tapper is actually more or less fully playable with touchscreen controls (go with a non-fixed stick though of course).  Really rather nice.

  12. Sledge says:

    Incompatible with my 2nd gen iPod — now what am I supposed to spend the 69p on?

  13. RevStu says:

    A downpayment on a better iPod.

  14. Sledge says:

    Hey it runs Rage, it should run that!

  15. Bobby Powell says:

    Stuart Campbell is my mack daddy.

  16. Irish Al says:

    That Thank You sample is annoying me now. Could it be the insert coin sound from some game or pinball ?

  17. RevStu says:

    "Hey it runs Rage, it should run that!"

    It SHOULD, but Jeff doesn't believe in optimising. Even on a 3rd-gen Touch it's noticeably slower than on an iPhone 4 or iPad 1.

  18. Marc says:

    Isn't the VIC version charmingly shit.

  19. RevStu says:

    It's more fun than the C64 one, for sure.

  20. Pomegran says:

    Some samples are from Juno First.

  21. Irish Al says:

    Is there a case for having separate leaderboards for iCade users, I wonder? Surely none of those people up in the 600K bracket in Pure mode are using their finger. Or maybe they are and I'm just more shit at it than I thought.

  22. RevStu says:

    I'd say the high scores are more likely to be using the iPad version or a 3rd-gen iTouch, if there's hardware advantage involved. The iCade isn't nearly as big a boon here as it is with Caverns Of Minos.



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