This month in Q5, we find out which games make Jeff Minter, the creative force of Llamasoft since 1981, tick.
What was the first game that you remember playing?
It was probably a dedicated home Pong set that my brother brought over to my parents’ house. I remember I was curious, and thought it’d be quite nice to have one myself, but I couldn’t afford one so didn’t think much about it after he’d gone. I wasn’t truly bitten by the video game bug until I first encountered Space Invaders.
What’s your favourite video game of all time?
I should say Robotron, although I’m by no means super-skilled at it. It’s just such a perfect, brutal, elegant design. It’ll kick your head in again and again, but you’ll always come back for another go. It was technically amazing for its time, with lovely shattering explosions and more enemies onscreen than anything that had been seen at that time by far. Vid Kidz Jarvis/DeMar at their best.
What do you think is the most underrated video game of all time?
I’d say the sequel to Robotron, Blaster. Not that it was a better game – it was decent, but not as good as Roby. It’s more the fact that it was *originally* made for 8-bit Atari hardware (the 5200), but Williams didn’t want to release a home version before an arcade version, so the Vid Kidz did a port of the game to arcade. Meanwhile, the 5200 kinda bombed, and rather than release it on the 5200 it was simply never released. It surfaced a few years ago, and for an Atari 8-bit game it’s pretty damn amazing, making a pretty decent fist of a fast-paced 3D game on that hardware, with an interesting graphical style. I think back in the day I’d have just about peed my pants at the idea of an original game for the Atari from the creators of Defender, Stargate and Robotron, my absolute heroes of game design and the single biggest inspiration to me in developing my own games.
Which of the games that you’ve created is your favourite?
I’m always going to say Hover Bovver, because it was a collaborative design between me and my dad, and made at a time when everything was going really well and the games biz was just a fun and creative place to be, before it turned into a huge industry full of companies out to make Serious Money.
What are you working on currently?
I’m currently working on a multiuser VR light synth.
Be sure to check out Llamasoft’s latest blast, Moose Life, on PS4 and PC.