Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story

  • Couch Co-Op: 2 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
  • + Co-Op Modes
Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story - Co-op Review
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Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story - Co-op Review

This collection of classic games from Jeff Minter features 4 co-op titles, including Tempest 2000.

Jeff Minter is a long-haired English video game developer who got his start creating games for European computers in the early 1980s. Nowadays, Minter is best known for the Tempest series, but he has created an astounding number of games, usually by himself or with very small teams. Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story from Digital Eclipse celebrates the life and works of Mr. Minter, compiling tons of biographical material and 42 classic games in one robust package.

The user interface of LTMS, as we’ll abbreviate the collection’s title, will be familiar to any retro enthusiasts who have played Atari 50: The Anniversary Collection or The Making of Karateka, also from Digital Eclipse. Both LTMS and The Making of Karateka are part of Digital Eclipse’s Gold Master series, software titles that are designed to be interactive documentaries. The mileage that modern gamers will get from these Gold Series titles will vary depending on the individual gamer’s interest in the subject matter.

Llamasoft the Jeff Minter Story Xbox Series X

The collection is divided into three sections: “The Jeff Minter Story” (the documentary section), Games Library, and Gameography (a simple list of all of Minter’s games, including some that are not part of this collection, such as Defender 2000 and 2023’s Akka Arrh).

The documentary section is broken up into four chapters covering the stages of the Mint-man’s career. Within the chapters, you’ll find photos, video interviews and other footage, and even 3D replicas of cartridges and floppy discs. The documentary section is a great way to learn the history of the British indie developer scene and how Minter has navigated it over the years.

Games Library

Llamasoft the Jeff Minter Story Game Library Xbox Series X

The library is where you’ll go to play the actual games of the collection. Games can be sorted by year or title. Each game has cover artwork, a brief description, and instruction manual scans or screenshots of the original instructional file. All games have remappable controls, save states, and video and border options as well.

The 42 games included here run a wide gamut, but they often involve llamas and/or camels – signs of Minter’s personal style and sense of humor. It must be stressed that many of these games come from the era in which developers were still figuring out how to make games fun. Some of these games are just too old and clunky to be enjoyable, even to someone like me who still likes games from the NES era.

Gridrunner Remastered Llamasoft The Jeff Minter Story Xbox

One of the Mint-master’s most respected games is Gridrunner, a shoot ‘em up that started on the Commodore VIC-20 computer and spawned many ports and sequels. Several iterations are playable in this collection, with the most notable being Gridrunner: Remastered. Digital Eclipse has taken the core gameplay of the Commodore 64 version and added slick modern visuals and sounds. Remastered is a cool way to play Gridrunner, though the option of updated gameplay would have been a nice inclusion.

Four of the collection’s games support 2-player local co-op; let’s take a look at them.

Laser Zone (Commodore 64, 1983)

Llamasoft the Jeff Minter Story Laser Zone Xbox Series X

In Laser Zone, an alien armada is attacking the walls of a Terran outpost. Two satellite dish-shaped guns located on the wall and floor of the outpost are the only defense. If playing solo, one player controls both guns. In co-op, each player gets a single gun.

During every level, enemies descend from the sky and advance towards the outpost walls. Touching an enemy means death. Each gun can only shoot in one direction, so the two players really have to look out for each other. Laser Zone is a bit simple and dated, but the intuitive gameplay and cooperative element can still be fun for a while.