App O’ The Mornin’: Theseus

Robert Abbott is one of the masters of logic mazes, which add layers of complexity to the standard linear point-to-point maze. (You can find his home on the web here.) He does a lot of work for us at Games Magazine, including some fine cover puzzles. We even made an interactive version of one of his cover puzzles, called Starry Night, which you can try online.

One of his most enduring designs is Theseus and the Minotaur, which has evolved over several iterations, including pen-and-pencil, computer, Java, and the game Mummy Maze (PopCap), which belatedly acknowledged its dept to Abbott’s original concept.

It now finds a welcome home in the App store with a very simple, clean visual style and control system. Developed by Jason Fieldman, the app offers 17 levels in the free Lite version and almost 90 in the full $4 version. The goal is to maneuver “Theseus” (a blue ball) to the exit by first trapping the “Minotaur” (a red ball with horns) in one of the niches on the map. Since the Minotaur is always closing on Theseus with two moves to Theseus’s one, the trick is to find ways to trap him with his own rules of movement, which favor horizontal motion over vertical.

Although the rules are easy to understand, the puzzles get larger and increasingly complex, and some a real mind-benders. There are many maze games in the App stores, including rolling ball games that use the device’s motion control to emulate tilting mazes, but Theseus is the most clever. It’s a classic design done with a solid implementation.

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