Digital Eclipse Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story PS5 review PS5 Review

Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story Review (PS5) – A True Industry Legend Finally Gets His Due With This Superbly Produced Interactive Documentary

llmasoft the jeff minter story ps5 review

It’s with a clear head that I can honestly say that there has never been, or likely never will be, anyone quite like Jeff Minter and yet it seems that while old farts like me will forever hold him in the highest esteem (thanks in no small part to a childhood spent in the early 80s with a ZX Spectrum and a copy of Revenge of the Mutant Camels II), it’s also clear that many of the newer generation of gamers will likely have never heard of him. And that’s where Digital Eclipse comes in with Llamosoft: The Jeff Minter Story, the latest entry in its excellent Gold Master series, as it both focuses on Minter and the outsized impact that he had on the games industry – one that was both seismic at the time and keenly felt now – and the very games that have stood the test through time.

Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story PS5 Review


A Thoroughly Researched, Beautifully Presented Interactive Documentary On A Games Industry Legend

For those who haven’t been lucky enough to play the previous entry in the Gold Master series (a lovingly crafted effort on Jordan Mechner’s martial arts adventure Karateka) or have yet to indulge themselves in the myriad pleasures of the stupendously content stuffed Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story follows the exact same interactive documentary structure as those two previous entries. This means that in telling Jeff’s story from his early days onwards in a chapter based format, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story provides eager gaming historians with access to all manner of handwritten notes, candid photos, design documents, classic game covers, manuals, commentaries, advertisements and so much more all lovingly rendered in eye-popping, pin-sharp 4K resolution.

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Something else that Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story does is to supplement such materials with some expertly produced video clips at key points in Jeff’s history, providing valuable feedback from his fellow co-workers, industry luminaries and a clutch of current journalists, presenters and influencers. All told it makes Llamsaoft: The Jeff Minter feel like an almost voyeuristic peek into not just someone else’s life, but also the very industry that they helped to shape.

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From Jeff’s early dalliance with titles that were inspired by other games and were renamed to avoid falling foul of copyright (his Defender clone was hilariously just called ‘Defenda’), to the early health troubles which narrowly focused his ambitions to get into making video games all the way through to his superbly dry humour and eccentric affection for keeping sheep and other such furry folk on his farm in rural Wales, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story does a stellar job of illuminating the exploits of a true industry legend. Handily, you can also navigate through all of these materials and chapters in an entirely non-linear way, allowing you absorb and digest the wealth of content available completely at your own pace. Which is, you know, nice.

Of course, much like Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration and The Making of Karateka which came before it, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story also comes generously stuffed with a range of games though obviously here the games that are included have been carefully plucked from Minter’s own legacy, rather than anywhere else. It’s a sizable collection too which spans many systems, from the Sinclair ZX81 and Commodore VIC-20, through to Commodore 64 and even the Atari Jaguar and obscure machines such as the Konix(!), all the while providing a true kaleidoscope of everything that Minter has managed to accomplish during his nearly half a century long career in the games industry.

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Though it’s true that some of these games have clearly aged much, much better than others, the majority of the titles included in Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story still remain a blast to play. Including just about all of his earlier games (where the source code still exists), titles such as Gridrunner, Revenge of the Mutant Camels II and most crucially his Tempest titles (and in particular Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar), are hugely enjoyable within the own right and really ram home just how tight and carefully judged arcade game design can be instrumental in embedding that ‘one more go’ temptation into players which helps to underscore just one of the reason why Jeff Minter is considered to be an industry legend.

Further Reading – Upcoming PS5 Games 2024 – The Best PS5 Games Coming Soon

Put simply, he *gets* what makes a video game compelling at a basic level and innately knows how to create an equally compelling gameplay loop to gamers hooked. In addition to Minter’s back catalogue, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story not only packs in his two wonderfully eccentric light synthesizer experimental games (Psychedelia and Colourspace) but also Gridrunner Remastered, a fully remastered take on Minter’s classic grid-based shooter that not only brings it up to date a fresh lick of paint and a reworked audio presentation, but which also operates off of the existing Commodore 64 core to ensure an experience that’s as accurate as possible. To say that developer Digital Eclipse has created something of a love letter to both Jeff Minter and his storied output would be an understatement.

An industry iconoclast, beloved eccentric and arguably the father of modern high score chasing, the sort of spotlight that the Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story puts on its titular subject feels hugely overdue to say the least. Beautifully put together with a wealth of painstakingly researched historical material, candid looks at Jeff’s storied life from Jeff himself and just about all of the games that heralded his rise to prominence in the games industry packed in for kicks, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story is a masterclass how you find out about one of the charismatic and genuinely talented legends of the games industry – and you’ll have a great time doing it.

Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story is out now on PS4 and PS5.

Review copy kindly provided by PR.

Score

8.5

The Final Word

An industry iconoclast, beloved eccentric and arguably the father of modern high score chasing, the sort of spotlight that the Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story puts on its titular subject feels hugely overdue to say the least. Beautifully put together with a wealth of painstakingly researched historical material, candid looks at Jeff's storied life from Jeff himself and just about all of the games that heralded his rise to prominence in the games industry packed in for kicks, Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story is a masterclass how you find out about one of the charismatic and genuinely talented legends of the games industry - and you'll have a great time doing it.