Ancipital

by Paul Morrison


Jeff Minter is a very singular game developer, and his Llamasoft is a very singular company. Never in the history of computer games has a programmer married his love of arcade machines and cloven-hoofed animals with such success. And it's a far better marriage than that description might have you believe...

Although there have been, and continue to be, a number of successful Llamasoft games featuring a variety of different ungulates... Sheep in Space, Attack and Revenge of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner (erm, hang on...)... my personal favourite of Jeff Minter's Commodore 64 games was always Ancipital.

Hmmm.  That must be funny.

Hmmm.  That must be funny.

Playing as Cippy, a goat-like creature from far away, you must escape from within the confines of a 100-room complex of evil, well, just because. Why would you stay there, really? It's not just as simple as walking through the front door, though, as each room is sealed shut and can only be unlocked by blasting the weird things within and by stomping on the walls from a great height.

Seeing as this is a British game from the early Eighties, the inhabitants of the complex are not robot guards or sentries. Instead, you'll be assaulted by such things as hammers, cigarettes, fruit, nuts and bolts and other household objects and pets. It's quite bizarre, but tremendously enjoyable.

Yak's the way I like it!

Yak's the way I like it!

It's great fun to play, with a control method that features a real sense of weight. Making Cippy change direction to stomp on a wall feels real, especially when the room shakes with a crunching sound effect. With each “level” being contained within a single screen, I believe that Ancipital would be a perfect game to be remade for Jeff Minter's iOS Minotaur Project. If that doesn't happen, then we should remain thankful for the version we have... it's superb.