Fly a whole planet with Min: A Space Adventure

Min: A Space Adventure is a new iOS game from small independent developer Cwerki Studios. The game is an Unreal Engine-powered 3D racing game of sorts designed for iPhone 4S and all generations of iPad, and is available now from the App Store as a free download.

Min casts players in the role of a strange civilization who live on a tiny planet roughly the size of a beachball. The Minimar, as the planet’s inhabitants are called, have discovered a way to harness their planet’s energy and have used said discovery to strap a huge rocket engine onto the back of their planet. Using this, they hope to explore space — though before they can get out into the wide reaches of the cosmos, there are a series of increasingly-perilous asteroid caverns to negotiate first.

The main gameplay in Min is based around “time attack” racing. Players begin at the start of a level and must reach the exit as quickly as possible without allowing the planet Min to be destroyed. Along the way, the player collects materials which can be spent in the in-game shop between levels, and earns progress towards “Eureka Points,” which may be used to upgrade the planet’s capabilities in various ways.

Superficially, the game resembles relatively simple “tunnel racers” such as Hands-On Mobile’s Brainpipe, in which the player moves constantly forward and simply moves their position up, down, left and right. It becomes quickly clear that Min is somewhat different to these games, however, as the player actually has full control of the craft’s pitch and yaw rather than simply moving its position relative to the tunnel. Levels are designed with this movement style in mind, which means the player will often encounter sharp-angled turns in the corridors that the player must carefully steer around or risk slamming into the wall for considerable damage. The route which the player must go is generally clearly marked with signs on the walls, however, so frustration at not knowing which route to take is kept to a minimum.

The game is free-to-play but monetizes through sales of soft currency, known as “cMats.” These are used to purchase consumable boosters and variations on the basic Min planet, each of which has its own capabilities. They may be earned through play, but purchasing allows the player quicker access to all the content the game offers. The most expensive pack comes in at $12.99 and reportedly offers enough cMats to purchase everything currently in the game as well as have some left over for the upcoming content patch. The player may also immediately purchase level ups (and thus Eureka Points) for $0.99 a time.

Min’s gameplay is simple but frustratingly addictive — the difficulty ramps up very quickly, giving the player a significant challenge throughout. The audio-visual presentation is very good, too — the Unreal Engine is excellent at throwing 3D graphics around, particularly on newer iOS devices, so the frame rate is kept very smooth while allowing the game a distinctive, detailed look. The only real qualm with the presentation is that the interface is much too small and fiddly on the iPhone 4S’ small screen — some menu buttons are very difficult to accurately press on the first attempt, which could lead some players to the mistaken assumption that the game is not working correctly.

This is something which could easily be fixed in a future update, however — Cwerki Studios is presently committed to regular updates on the game, and is soliciting feedback from fans via its official Facebook page. Exactly what content will show up in the next update is not yet known, but some teaser images suggest that something involving two Mins — perhaps a multiplayer mode? — is in the game’s future. Fan engagement is off to a slow start so far, but the team seems genuinely keen to interact with fans and find out what they want to see from future incarnations of the game, which is admirable. Already the game provides a fun, well-presented and challenging experience — and, perhaps best of all, does so without feeling the need to clone another developer’s work or simply provide another unoriginal twist on a stale genre. While the developer’s relatively unknown status will likely prevent the game from gaining particularly significant traction in the App Store charts given the ruthless competition it is up against, Min deserves to see some success for providing something a little different and not just taking the “easy way out.”

Min is not yet listed on our traffic tracking service AppData. Check back shortly to follow its progress through the App Store charts.