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 Post subject: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 2:06 am 


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Joined: 07 Sep 2013
Posts: 1515
Location: Pennsylvania
I don't know, I just felt like playing some modern arcadey games in that 80's twitch action vein that Williams and Eugene Jarvis defined (Defender, Robotron, etc.), and first thing that came to mind was Jeff Minter's stuff. Weird timing, as the topic of Llamasoft just came up in the VR shmups thread. I really enjoy his game design sensibilities, the only real questionable thing (well besides the abundance of inexplicable iconography, sound bytes, and the recurring ungulate motif) is the absolute sensory overload most of his games have with neon particle effects clouding out most of the screen. This is kind of a YMMV thing, personally I think not only is it a part of the Llamasoft aesthetic, but it's kind of part of the challenge, you need to filter out all the visual noise and get in the zone to succeed.

Two titles I've been playing on PC are Moose Life and Minotaur Arcade Vol. 1.

Moose Life seems really promising, but I haven't played much of it yet. From what I have played so far, it seems like it kind of builds off of Konami's Juno First, and adds a plane flipping mechanic.

Minotaur Arcade Vol. 1 has 2 revamped versions of games that Jeff originally released on smartphones: Grid Runner, and Goat up. Grid Runner is the real star of the show here, building off Centipede and adding plenty of twitch action and neon particles to filter through. A significant revamp of the iOS and Android versions. Goat up is a fun little extra, but not close to being on the same level as Grid Runner, it's a weird little platformer that I can't describe very well. Other thing I'll say is that for Grid Runner if you're not using VR, you really should be using mouse movement for Grid Runner, but you have to opt into the beta branch of the game to enable it, which is only indicated on the steam discussion board.

Maybe one of these days I'll try out one of his real early 8/16 bit home computer releases using my MiSTer...
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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 8:08 am 


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Joined: 26 Feb 2005
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Location: Wigan, England.
Minter doesn't get enough love around here. Only time I ever saw any real discussion was around the time of, arguably, his weakest game with Space Giraffe. Don't care what anybody says, the visuals get in the way of the gameplay on that one.

Polybuis, Moose Life and Gridrunner are absdlutely brilliant. Not so much a fan of Tempest 4000, but I've always felt the controls on Tempest are weird - sort of analogue but not quite, I don't like the 'lanes'.

I'm still hoping for a couple more ports from iOS. Minotron in particular is the best Robotron rip I've ever played.
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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 8:52 am 



Joined: 03 Nov 2008
Posts: 117
I love his games, every now and then I have to take out my Atari ST and play Llamatron 2112.

Tempest 2000 is probably my favorite game on the Jaguar.

TxK on the Vita was pretty neat.

Had not heard of Space Giraffe on the 360, will check it out looks fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 8:56 am 


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Joined: 26 Jul 2009
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Gridrunner Revolution was originally a PC game, and I read Gridrunner++ controlled with mouse as well. Revolution (demo) struck me as a distinctly computer game.
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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:08 am 



Joined: 27 Aug 2006
Posts: 269
Location: Bonny Scotland
I'm a massive fan of Jeff Minters early games - the ones on the Vic20 were fantastic back in the day.

The Vic 20 versions in my opinion actually outshone the C64 versions, check out Lazer Zone on the Vic, the sound effects are 'Awesome' - nice thunky meaty sounds, a bit like Defender.
Compared to the C64 version which is more pew pew pew sounding.

Check out the obvious classics such as Gridrunner and Matrix- but also try Hellgate, another kinda overlooked Vic 20 classic which never really gets any mentions and again, is far better on the Vic20 than the C64.

Other notable mentions- MetaGalacticLlamas and Traxx- oh and some defender clone- Andes Attack- they're pretty early and so so.
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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:47 am 


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Joined: 31 Jan 2019
Posts: 336
I'm Minter agnostic. It comes down to a game to game basis with him (I think at this point, even his most die hard fans can admit he's just a capable putting out a stinker as a hit)

That said, I've been LOVING Moose Life. I think it's easily his best since Tempest 2k. I made a thread, but it didn't get a whole lot of interest.

If I had my wish, Spotify (or whichever giant music service) would give him a truckload of cash to build them a visualizer and he could retire in style.

Had not heard of Space Giraffe on the 360, will check it out looks fun.

It's... dissive. I thought it was okay. It tries a bunch of new things and not all of them totally work. The one bit of advice I'll give is to be sure and read the instructions. It doesn't work the way you think it does.


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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:35 am 



Joined: 02 Sep 2015
Posts: 2
Marc wrote:
Minter doesn't get enough love around here. Only time I ever saw any real discussion was around the time of, arguably, his weakest game with Space Giraffe. Don't care what anybody says, the visuals get in the way of the gameplay on that one.


One of the major themes of Space Giraffe is that it's built to de-emphasize the player's need to see clearly everything going on, relying on feel and audio feedback to get around the web. If (and it's a big "if" for a lot of people) you can get to grips with that you'll find it's one of the best shooters available. Personally I'm only middling at it, but every once in a while I find my way in to the headspace it's trying to create and it's simply amazing in there.

Much as I love Llamasoft, I really wish they had a UI designer on the team. Amazing games, and the tutorials are much better than they used to be, but navigating the menus is almost always its own unique challenge.


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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 7:40 am 


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Joined: 11 Jun 2008
Posts: 269
Location: London
m.sniffles.esq wrote:

If I had my wish, Spotify (or whichever giant music service) would give him a truckload of cash to build them a visualizer and he could retire in style.



Minter created the Neon music visualizer built in to the xbox360.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjI4dYWsFbM (Epilepsy warning)

It's also interactive.

http://minotaurproject.co.uk/x360manual.php
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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:26 am 


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Joined: 31 Jan 2019
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Minter created the Neon music visualizer built in to the xbox360

That's what gave me originally gave me the wish. He has the experience, they (Spotify or whoever) don't currently have one (but they do have deep pockets). Plus, his whole "future '80s" aesthetic is tré chic nowadays. Someone should get them together.


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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:42 am 


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Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 1204
Location: Finland
I'm delighted to see some Minter love here. First time I stumbled onto his work was Batalyx for Commodore 64. I couldn't understand anything about it at all, but it felt so unique and intriquing that I never forgot it since. I eventually bought the original copy and was able to read instructions, and it revealed to be quite nice multi-minigame which no one has replicated ever since.

I met the man few years back when he was visiting our town, we had few beers and discussed about the faux "retro" style games of today; and how much cooler it would be to develop "real" retro shmups for an actual old arcade hardware rather than just developing it on PC and pretending it's "retro". It was just talk, but I hope he some day gets to it.

Ps. Back in the day, people around me claimed that Batalyx was done under "the influence", but Jeff assured to me that he has never taken anything stronger than tea :)


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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 2:01 pm 


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Joined: 24 May 2011
Posts: 330
Location: New Jersey, U.S.
Polybius remains the best PSVR game imo, and one of his best games overall. Absolutely love that game.

I’ve only played Moose Life a few times, but it seems awesome. Really need to get back at that one.
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 Post subject: Re: Jeff Minter and Llamasoft
PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:11 pm 


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Joined: 31 Jan 2019
Posts: 336
but Jeff assured to me that he has never taken anything stronger than tea

Mushroom tea...

I kid


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