A Yak's Favourite Games | Everygamegoing

ST Format

A Yak's Favourite Games

Published in ST Format #24

Ace-programmer Jeff Minter, llama fanatic and creator of the Format Gold winning Llamatron, picks his fave Top 20 games of all time exclusively for ST Format.

A Yak's Favourite Games

Jeff Minter, or Yak as he prefers to be known, is a veteran of the games industry. He began writing games for the Vic-20 many years ago - he once wrote a complete version of Gridrunner that totalled an incredible 3K in size, and that included all the sound effects and graphic routines! He soon progressed onto bigger and more powerful micros, but his games always retained a distinctive flavour, often featuring mutant llamas, goats or sheep, and having bizarre titles like Revenge Of The Mutant Camels.

His first game for the ST was a version of Defender called Andes Attack which substituted llamas for humanoids. Super Gridrunner soon followed. Since then he's had programs published both under his own Llamasoft label an dby Atari's software arm, ARC - most notably Photon Storm and Defender 2, the best version of Defender ever produced for the ST.

A hippie and proud of it, Yak specialises in taking old game concepts like Defender, adding enhanced (and weird) graphics and sound, and improving the gameplay. His philosophy is that fancy graphics count for nothing if the game doesn't grab you. Llamatron, his latest effort, has been awarded a Format Gold and is available as Shareware, and an exclusive version is yours free on this month's Cover Disk.

But Yak doesn't just write games. Ever since the early days he's been developing "light synthesisers." Beginning with Psychedelia for the 8-bits, he progressed to Colourspace for the ST and the radically improved and updated version, Trip-A-Tron, which took a year to write.

So what's next? Well, possibly more and even better Shareware releases - if people are prepared to show their support for Llamatron. But at the moment Yak's time is taken up with a certain new piece of hardware from Atari. Suffice to say, its name isn't a million miles away from "Jaguar" and he's "getting to grips with its video chip". We should see some results by the end of the year.

1. Llamatron

"Yes, it's one of mine, but it's not here just because I wrote it. I've always loved Robotron - in some ways it's really the ultimate shoot-'em-up. It inspired Llamatron but the latter has a lot more levels and weirder weirdoes than the arcade machine. It lets anyone take on the first few levels but can soon challenge even a hardened zapfield." 95%

2. Starglider 2

"This 3D exploration/blaster gets a new lease of life in the Yak charts because it runs on the TT - you want to see fast 3D? Then take a look at this. I love the idea of having a whole solar system as a gameworld for you to interact with. Saying that, it still suffers from the same major flaw as Damocles: there's a whole system full of worlds and objects for you to explore, but there aren't any people." 95%

3. Lemmings

"One of the best designed games I've seen for ages. I have always liked games which require a bit of lateral thinking. The idea of replacing the single player entity with a whole herd of wee shaggy beasties is inspired and it works excellently. If you value your sanity, keep your mouse balls clean for Lemmings. Accurate mouse control is paramount in this game." 94%

4. Damocles

"Damocles (the sequel to Mercenary) is incredibly impressive in scope, has a vast play area, and contains weird things like a small planet called Midas with nothing but 16 million individually numbered pyramids on it. Unfortunately, just like Starglider 2, the game suffers a bit because it's totally devoid of life. Every planet is a bit like a kind of galactic Newcastle Emlyn on a Wednesday afternoon." 94%

5. Powermonger

"I'm not usually into wargames, but Powermonger by the Bullfrog team manages to get you instantly interested with its unique graphical representation of the gameworld. It's fun watching your armies wasting the enemy soldiers, looting, pillaging and stealing the women or raping the cattle. It's still a bit upsetting though because sometimes you have to eat the sheep in order to survive a harsh winter." 93%

6. Captain Blood

"I like this because it's so damn strange. The Jarre samples were a bit of a letdown but there's a lot of impressive stuff here: the fractal flight sequences and especially the unnecessarily psychedelic warp sequence. The unique style of the Exxos graphics gives the game a weird atmosphere and sets it apart from other adventures. It might perhaps be a bit too weird for some but it's worth seeing." 91%

7. Defender 2

"This isn't because I wrote it, it's mainly because I'm nuts about Williams games - Stargate in particular. What did you expect? This has good versions of both the original Defender and Stargate, as well as a version of Defender 2 - complete with loads of extra levels and weapons. This was the first game where I got to grips with samples too. Defender 2 has to be loud. Weedy chip noise just will not do." 88%

8. Virus

"I know Virus lacks depth, and you need a clean mouse and at least two days of flight training before you can even fly the thing, but stick with it and it pays off. When you can zoo and swoop to perfection, deal death to all those scumbag mutants and fighters, execute powered dives to get yourself out of trouble and pull out only pixels above the ground, it's excellent." 86%

9. Gauntlet II

"I liked this one because it's pretty close to the arcade original - it's even got all the samples. The ability to choose your character is far more flexible than Gauntlet too. You can have a party of up to four Wizards, for example. The game is also a lot more technically accomplished. I really like multi-player co-operative games - they're so few and far between, and Gauntlet II is one of the best." 86%

10. Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters

"Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters is a bit like a sort of 3D Robotron. This has a wicked two-player co-operative mode and is very playable. The graphics are amusing too - especially when you frazzle one of your own bimbos. No great tech wizardry - just a good and unpretentious zapper." 80%

11. Super Gridrunner

"On the TT, this oldie gets a new lease of life. It runs flawlessly, is 20% faster than on the ST and doesn't slow down at all - even if there's plenty of junk on the screen while you're playing." 88%

12. Arkanoid

Technically flawless but only runs on the old TOS. Ridiculously simple as a game idea, this is just so playable and it's addictive as flip!" 80%

13. E-Motion

"This is a weird game that requires two of my favourite game skills: a good deal of logical thought and the ability to fly a ship well." 76%

14. Elite

"I really enjoy this one. You could still do with a sense of 'being there' though. It's more like 'I'll just rotate that alien into the middle of the screen' than 'Oh no, he's gonna toast my ass!'" 75%

15. Stunt Car Racer

"The best driving game for the ST. Some truly wicked 3D creates a very real world. It's a shame it doesn't want to run on my TT though." 74%

16. Dungeon Master

"This is excellent, not least because it encourages people who are usually bored by the standard RPG stuff to have a go. Great fun, especially with a group of you." 93%

17. Plutos

"A really old game (that's no longer available). Graphics aren't anything eyeball-busting, but it's a better vertical scroller than many other better known games. It's even more fun with two players." 82%

18. Time Bandit

"A multi-directional scrolling exploration cum blaster game, with the emphasis on blasting at the higher levels. There are plenty of puzzles and there's even a sheep in it too." 69%

19. Flight Simulator 2

"Okay, so there are no lasers and you're usually just pootling about in a Cessna or Learjet, but it's fun to do silly things like fly upside-down under San Francisco's Bay Bridge." 75%

20. The Handy Hendy Bendy Mandy

"An amazingly-fast program that generates Mandelbrot sets, written by my mate Hendy the Mad Mathemagician. It's not finished, you can't buy it and it isn't strictly a game, but I play with it for hours!"

Jeff Minter