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Atari is Copyright-Bullying the Creator of TxK and Tempest 2000 Because TxK is "Too Similar" to Tempest 2000. Huh??

Posted by Jessica Fisher on March 18th, 2015

Update - 3/18: Gamasutra reached out to Atari for comment, and the response isn't exactly reassuring. The company is basically citing reviews that liken TxK to Tempest as proof that the two games are too similar, and insists that they have been trying to reach an amicable solution with Llamasoft (Jeff Minter) from the beginning. A claim that he wholeheartedly disagrees with. A .PDF of one of Atari's lawyers' letters has been shared by Llamasoft, and it paints picture that's somewhat different from the official commentary.

TxK, created by Jeff Minter and Llamasoft (GoatUp, Caverns of Minos, Minotron 2112), is an action shooter that's kind of the spiritual successor to Minter's previous game, Tempest 2000, which was published by Atari in 1994. Recently, Atari has set their lawyers upon Minter in an effort to shut down TxK and any other titles that might be related to Tempest 2000.

Minter has posted an explanation of the situation on Llamasoft's discussion boards that detail Atari's accusations of theft by Minter of source code, music, and the concept of "jumping" of all things.

Jeff Minter: "... in order to create TxK I must have had access to, and stolen secrets from, Atari's source code, in order to steal the work of the other people who worked on Tempest 2000. (I *wrote* the source code for Tempest 2000, and didn't need to refer to it at all to create TxK, even if I still had it. The only other people who worked on the game were Joby Woods who did bitmaps (TxK has no bitmaps apart from one 64x64 graduated dot) and the Imagitec musicians (TxK has neither a modplayer nor any of Imagitec's music). So I stole my own work out of my own brain I guess.

"The soundtrack to TxK sounds identical to the soundtrack of Tempest 2000. (In fact the TxK soundtrack is entirely original and highly acclaimed; it won a Develop award and went to #1 on Bandcamp).

The player ship can jump. Apparently Atari owns jumping."

While most of the allegations could be argued, Atari has created a legal situation that will be astronomically expensive to contest. They are using their significant size and wealth to force the smaller company and developer into submission, basically. Atari also changed the original name of Tempest 2000 to Tempest X (along with just enough of the content) when porting the game to the PlayStation in order to cut Minter off from any royalties he might have earned through sales.

According to Minter, "...they are still trying to insist that I remove from sale Vita TxK (even though it's plainly at the end of its run now and only brings in a trickle these days) and sign papers basically saying I can never make a Tempest style game ever again. So no chance of releasing the ports."

Say goodbye to all those Tempest spin-off dreams. Atari is laying down the law with a fist made of money.

Super Ox Wars Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on July 13th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CAPRICIOUS
Super Ox Wars is the latest game from gaming industry veteran Jeff Minter, a psychedelic bullet hell shoot 'em up inspired by a festival in a small Brazilian village in the Amazon.
Read The Full Review »

Gridrunner Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on March 5th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: RUN TO THE GRID
Gridrunner is a remake of Jeff Minter's series of arcade-style shooters, a hybrid of Centipede and Galaga.
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Caverns of Minos Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Carter Dotson on January 31st, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CAVERNS OF FUN
Caverns of Minos is a hybrid shoot 'em up and lunar lander game from Jeff Minter's Llamasoft.
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GoatUp Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on October 3rd, 2011
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: RETRO JUMPING GOODNESS
Llamasoft's take on platformers is certainly odd, but it's also quite a bit of fun.
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The Portable Podcast, Episode 104

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 27th, 2011

Ungulates just going every which way!

On This Episode:

  • Carter speaks to legendary game developer Jeff Minter. They discuss his portfolio of titles on iOS and the inspiration behind each, from Minotaur Rescue to his newest title, GoatUp, and why he had to rename the game from his planned title "Goat Goes Up."
  • Who We Are:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guest: Jeff Minter, Llamasoft
  • Music:

  • "Beatnes7 (Theme to The Portable Podcast)" by The Eternal - Download on iTunes here:

  • "Nanocarp" by The Eternal

  • How to Listen:

  • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
  • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.

  • Listen on WRGT Radio every Friday at 4pm Central
  • Listen Here: [powerpress]
  • Apps Mentioned in this Episode:

    Minotron: 2112 Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    By Carter Dotson on March 9th, 2011
    Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MINOTAURS INHERIT THE EARTH
    Minotaur: 2112 is the latest in Jeff Minter's Minotaur Project, being a take on the classic arena shooter, Robotron 2084
    Read The Full Review »

    Minotaur Rescue Review

    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    By Carter Dotson on January 17th, 2011
    Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: I LOVE A MINOTAUR
    Minotaur Rescue is a new retro-inspired shooter from game designer Jeff Minter that has you trying to destroy asteroids and rescue minotaurs in a psychedelic space environment with single-device multiplayer support for up to 4 people.
    Read The Full Review »