Its title and the fruit bowl on its App Store icon may suggest otherwise, but there’s no mistaking Five A Day for anything other than a Llamasoft production, from the C64 font on its title screen to the ambient soundtrack, punctuated by tolling bells and the occasional cough. Not forgetting, of course, the floating minotaurs in gaudy sweaters and the reverberating howls and cheerfully silly bons mots that celebrate a level’s completion. Those seeking a healthy eating plan are advised to look elsewhere: this is more likely to encourage consumption of hallucinogens than fruit and vegetables.
At first it seems more lethargic than psychedelic, however, though the slow pace allows you time to adjust to your craft’s wide turning circle. Shooting is automatic, so you can focus on collecting the fruit that enemies leave behind. This forms a trail behind you, increasing your rate of fire and replenishing lost energy, and also acts as a weapon against the motherships that appear once enough aliens have been destroyed. The process is repeated for five levels over different times of day, though rather than a traditional cycle you soar through cloudscapes at Crunchtime and Nicecupofteatime, moving from Maneday to Hoovesday.
By the time you reach Fursday, Five A Day has become as stern a test as any of Minter’s iOS efforts, not least because the nudge you receive when hit can all too easily see you rebounding clumsily between projectiles. A minor frustration, perhaps, but coupled with a soundtrack that is more unsettling than relaxing, Five A Day could prove even more of an acquired taste than usual. It may be a comparatively fleeting pleasure, then, but Llamasoft loyalists will be happy to further indulge one of the industry’s true characters, whose prolific recent form suggests he’s more creatively fulfilled on iOS than any previous platform.