"Always remember to pillage *before* you burn."
FALCON GAME REVIEW: "LLAMAZAP" BY LLAMASOFT
(Also a review of the Jaguar Powerpad)
by Richard Karsmakers
Shall I start this review by attempting to give you an idea of
the water that passed under the world's various bridges between
the actual finishing of this game and its final release?
No, let's not. No use getting all depressed over something as
trivial as, say, a year more or less. Suffice to say that Atari's
intended release of various Falcon-specific games to coincide
with the release of this machine has not really materialised very
well. As a matter of fact, some of the promised titles have yet
to be seen anywhere outside of very optimistic press releases.
And by now the Falcon has been on the market for, what, about
The game I had personally been awaiting with something most like
zeal is "Llamazap". It's not a big secret that I have really
found it difficult to dislike any of the games turned out by
Llamasoft, starting back in the 8-bit heydays and continueing
right into the Atari scene with such gems as "Llamatron" and
"Revenge of the Mutant Camels" at a shareware fee of 5 bob a
piece, and his more recent "2K" stuff on the Jaguar.
Anyway, "Llamazap" finally found its way onto my hard disk, I am
glad to say. And what I ended up with was one of the most arcade-
style games I've ever seen, using the Falcon's capabilities
really rather well.
Unlike his previous efforts, Llamasoft's Jeff Minter has now not
done all of it himself. The graphics were done by a more
dedication graphics artists and I seem to recall the music
(modules) having been done by someone else similarly. But the
most important things, game design and fine tuning, I suppose
were left up to the man that I think would need to be credited
for releasing more playable games than any other person in the
computer industry. No oodles of senseless beauty in the graphics
department that take to the butchers' whatever remains of
playability, but true addiction and the kind of action that just
keeps you coming back for another firm arcade thrashing.
Thrashing? Oh, yes, most certainly a thrashing. For if you think
"Llamazap" - or most of Jeff's other games for that matter - are
a doddle to play you're sadly mistaken. What it usually boils
down to, indeed, is that your average lifespan will end up being
rather on the short side. Many of the Llamasoft offerings make me
want to play them with my back turned to the screen and fireing
off in random directions holding the joystick upside down - that
was the only way I could play "Hellgate" on the Commodore 64
anyway. It isn't quite that difficult in the case of "Llamazap",
but it's definitely the kind of game that had me unleash a
tendency to use words like "itchy trigger fingers", "sore joypad
thumbs" and that kind of thing.
I think it's a darned shame that Jeff has been whisked off into
some or other dungeon in a California office, probably out of
reach of sunlight, programming the Jaguar full-time ("Defender
2000" at the moment). Obviously it wasn't enough for Atari just
to abandon the Atari Falcon in favour of that earlier mentioned
rather spiffing game console. "No," they must have thought,
"let's also offer a lucratively paid job to the only guy that
ever gave the Atari shareware scene some genuine impetus" (rumour
has it Jeff made 20 grand in pound sterling on Atari ST
Anyway, my grumblings seem sadly out of place here. I think it
might be better to start the review. But before I write something
about "Llamazap" I'd like to mention a few things about the
Jaguar Powerpad that is needed to play it.
A few things about the Jaguar Powerpad that is needed to play it
The Jaguar Powerpad, which can be connected to the joystick
ports on the far left side of your Falcon, is about the size the
Atari Lynx should have been. About two thirds of it is taken up
by a numeric keypad like a telephone's, including "*" and "#".
The top one third has, at the left, a joypad. At the right there
are three red fire buttons, ergonomically designed, labelled "A",
"B" and "C" from right to left. And in between the fire buttons
and the joypad are two further buttons, "Pause" and "Option".
The Powerpad needs to be held by two hands or can, alternatively
(and I think a bit stupidly) be placed on the table to be used in
the way Jeff Healey uses his guitar. It's kinda OK design-wise,
though it feels a bit unsolid and light. I find it easiest to
hold it with my middle fingers in the depression at the rear that
I suppose was meant for the index fingers, and hold my index
fingers along the Powerpad pointing towards where the chord
connects. The fire buttons and joypad are operated by the thumbs.
Although it takes some getting used to the joypad, it's a really
neat piece of work. It will cost you somewhere between the
equivalent of 50 and 70 Dutch guilders, depending where you buy
it. Apart from the fact that it's a prerequisite to be able to
play "Llamazap", you can also use it to play "Tautology" and
"Multi Briques" as well as, likely, quite a few other games.
In "Maggie" disk magazine issue 17 there's an interesting
tutorial on how to use the Powerpad in your own programs (this
will, by the way, most likely be used in the upcoming issue of ST
NEWS as well). Said issue of "Maggie" also has a resident
programette that changes your Powerpad into a very flexible kind
of trackball to replace the mouse.
The only thing I like rather a bit less about the Powerpad, by
the way, is the fact that is tends to get unplugged rather
easily. It doesn't fit as snugly and safely into its part as
perhaps it should.
And what are we here for, pray?
Now let's get on with what we're here for: "Llamazap". Finally
released (or at least finally arrived at my place, which is the
same for me, bottom-line-wise, really) and now ready to be
"Llamazap" contains some 25 levels and must have included an
awesome amount of coding. Jeff seems not to have been stricken by
the "optimum code usage" bug that is prevalent in so many game
designers/coders these days, and as you continue through the
madness of photons and sounds you will meet just about every of
his previous games he's ever done, possibly with the exception of
8-bit "Hover Bovver".
It kicks right off with a really intense and very colourful
incarnation of "Attack of the Mutant Camels". If you use ship
three and find out you should shoot them in the bits of their
bodies just below their heads you can clear it pretty quickly. It
took some time before I knew that (I was pretty stubborn and, for
a while at least, decided against using Jeff's "strategy guide"
he'd sent me quite some time ago). And, er, you'd better back
like hell away when they jump, for otherwise you can't shoot the
things they hurl at you. Loads of bonuses come at you in true
Minter style as you shoot the bullets from the camels' mouths.
But that does require quite some getting used to the joypad
control for agile movement coordination. Thankfully, Jeff has
included a practise range level in the game as well, where you
can shoot and dodge and manoeuvre to your heart's content.
Level 2 is called "Interstellar Space Sheep". In "Defender"
style, nasty thingies kidnap sheep from the two planet surfaces
that are, in a style all to illogical yet familiar, at the top
and the bottom of the two-screen high playfield. You have to
prevent all the woollies from getting sheepnapped and kill all
generators that are to be found on the planet's surfaces too.
These generators produce killer sheep that can be a real pain in
the posterior. So the quicker you take out the generators, the
sooner you'll be hassle-free. At least, well, relatively spoken.
"Get Your Goat" follows next. By now you should have some
powerups to increase ship's three shot to the three way spread.
The main nasties in this level are Alien motherships, that look
like KGB flying saucers, assisted by evil Ancipitals on the
planet's surfaces (this time a regular and upside down mirrored
surface in the middle of the playfield). You have to protect
goats this time, those dreadful little creatures that will
readily eat your besnotted hanky and that are responsible for the
existence of the dread word that starts with a "G" and ends with
"Return of the Mutant Camels" is next, which will look a bit
familiar to those familiar with level one. Leaping camels again,
though this time even more vicious than their cousins earlier in
the game. Homing missiles are added to the threats, so you will
have to use turbo (fire button "B", which you can use together
with "A" by tilting your right thumb to the left a bit) to avoid
them and get back to the actual camels that fired them.
On next is a level that should look familiar to any person who
claims to have a history of game playing on the Atari 16 bit
platform (including the Falcon, mind you!): "Llamatronic". You,
the llama, leave the ship for this mission. Here you have to move
around, shooting in the direction you move unless you keep the
fire button pressed in which case the direction of your fire is
not changed when you move somewhere. The trick here is to sit in
the left bottom corner where you can shoot safely while you're
collecting power-ups. The red bullets are particularly worth
while because they're rather nice phage bullets that will cling
to the enemy and score a lot more hitpoints!
"Chase and Destroy" is on next. This is true shoot-'em-up mayhem
again, where you basically have to use turbo speed to get into
the vicinity of the biggest and meanest meanie here - the enemy
plane. When you destroy it the pilot bails out, and collecting
these pilots you can get reams and reams (well...a few, anyway)
one-ups (that being arcade lingo for "an extra life").
It's right onto "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" domain
here on the next level, "That Sinking Feeling", a level that is
an air and sea kind of thing. Makes a song with a similar title
come to mind, and it's a song I don't like, but that's just
trivial. What you have to do here is pick off ships and rescue
dolphins, doing this alternately or, possibly, simultaneously. A
lot of points can be scored here by foiling dolphin abductions.
Using an Orb (where does Jeff get the weapon names...music
maybe?) you can brush these across enemy ships to destroy them.
And in the end you've got to sink the ship after killing off all
its guns. You can either solve this level quickly or sit it out
in true "Bubble Bobble" waiting-for-the-bonuses-before-killing-
the-last-meanie style, trying to get as many points as possible
for milking abduction foilments (ahem).
"Go, Sub" is next in line, though by no means the last yet. This
is a submarine level where you have to kill subs and avoid
streams of mines hurled onto you by little surface ships (and
these mines are real muthas!). The subs throw nuke pods that you
must, at all cost, prevent from touching the bottom. So the
higher up you kill the subs, the more time you have to intercept
them. The mines can be evaded by using ship three's orbital
doobries (don't frown your brow; I am not the person who thinks
up these advanced weapon system names). And many mines explode
before they hit the bottom, so if the scanner tells you there's
many ships throwing mines, go deep.
On the next level, "Giant Mutant Fish From Hell", there is,
surprisingly, a giant mutant (jelly-)fish from hell. A really
nice level that will award the prudent triggerhappy maniac
copiously if only he/she knows where to do what. The jellyfish
needs to be destroyed as soon as possible, but you have to avoid
triggering electric eels that will shoot at you when you hit them
(which is easily done when you're using the orbital doobry
thingies). There are also dolphins that bomb you, but when you
come closer carefully they will cease bombing and allow you to
collect them, yielding power-ups and one-ups.
Another old 8-bit game deja vu is encountered on the next level
by the name of "Metagalactic" - the 8-bit game meant here being
"Metagalactic Llamas on the Edge of Time". Goats need to be
protected here by your llama form, and fire button "B" now
functions as a "jump" button. Spiders are rather nasty here and,
obviously, will need to be inhumed. It's important to use the
screen wrap here to zap muthas from the side they don't expect
you to be. This can be done because the level, like that of
"Llamatronic" and the further reoccurrences of the level, is only
one screen big.
"Asteroids" requires you to blast rocks and mop up strays,
having entered your craft again. If you don't mop up, you'll be
set upon by Baiters. There are plenty of little flying saucers
that are quite a nuisance but that don't pose a big threat. By
hitting them off aplenty, however, you can make sure you get a
bigger bonus at the end of the level. And we all know that
bonuses are, like Guiness, good for you. It's advisable to switch
to ship three with three-way shooting. It's also better on later
On we go to "Yetanothergamestyle" which is, how remarkable, yet
another game style (yes, I know this joke - if joke you can call
it - it wearing a bit thin by now). You should have to Orb at
hand to get at rockets coming up from below and kill the final
boss monster, and shoot everything that moves except for the
spontaneously appearing llamas that you should gather to increase
your bonus significantly. This is basically a level that has
rockets coming at you by the bucketload, and asteroids to either
dodge or shoot.
And merrily we scroll along onto, erm, "Merrily we Scroll
Along". The best way here is to move under the giant bouncing
llama (which can't be killed anyway) and then rub the boss
monster's tentacles with your Orb (now how's that for a whole-
hearted exclamation of "oo-er!"?). Again you have to zap
everything that moves but collect the llamas for one-ups.
"Asteroids II" follows now. This is basically the same lark as
"Asteroids" encountered earlier, but the difference is that the
rocks rush at you once they're fragmented. This can be really
nasty, especially when you flee back and run into another
asteroid, which would cause instant annihilation.
Yes, next is "Gridrunner", which basically means that a pod
detaches from your ship and you have to control that along the
grid. I nearly got tears in my eyes upon seeing the familiar grid
and the thingies rushing down at me, and my shooting like some
crazy deranged bonkers mad kind of person. The lightning bolts
are a lot more deadly now, though, so the first couple of times
on this level you're very likely to die. Little goats run to and
fro occasionally, which you should collect instead of kill. Not
killing any goats will give rise to a nice accumulative bonus.
Yeah, Jeff really knows how to give people incentive to play a
game in an other than brainless fashion.
The pod rejoins the ship as we enter the next level, "Atomic".
This is probably Jeff's way of coping with school memories, and
those involving chemistry in particular. Some of the molecules on
this level can be shot, and others need particles of deceased
ones to be disintegrated. Like any atomic disintegrations, bits
fly off that tend to A) Haunt you, and B) Incinerate you upon
On to "Insects"; maybe another childhood memory to be got rid
of? Bees galore at start, which you have to kill, together with
the beehive. Next, spiders start dropping off onto the screen.
They need to be shot when they're on the ground, unless they are
in the process of the vile deed of sheepnapping again. There are
a lot of dragonflies, too (nice and colourful to draw, I
suppose), and if you fly into a spider's web, well, what do you
"Brains" is next. And it's clear that you need one for this
level. But not to think, but to move quickly and dodge the
rotating eyeballs while shooting at the brain while it's exposed.
And in the end you'll have to collect the lightbulb, of course,
still shooting and dodging those eyeballs.
A really nice level, probably inspired by a Nintendo game or
something, is "Death to Cute". Cute boxes hover over a planet
surface and out of them pop viciously cute baddies. Basically you
just have to shoot them, avoiding whatever shrapnel will fly off
whenever you do. This is definitely the craziest level, graphics-
"Llama in a Jetpac" is the next one, and by the time you've
arrived here you will have a loathing for all levels in which the
llama leaves the ship. Why, I did anyway. This level is only one
screen in size, but the right half of the screen is occupied by a
large monster that made the name "R-Type" leap to my mind. It
consists of guns that have to be destroyed, and once you've done
that you have to shoot its brain. It's really quite different
from the rest and, if I say so, a bit less inspired than most of
the other levels. Still, with over 10 different game styles in
one game I don't think we're entitled to complain for more than
the briefest of instants, so I intend to keep it at that.
On "Son of Llamatron" we're still playing the llama on its own,
in a one-screen level. By now the loathing might have, like it
did with me, have transformed into deep-gutted hate. I definitely
like these levels least, and that's an understament (possible the
mother of all understatements!). It's a more difficult version of
the old one, so you can't just sit in the bottom left corner and
Next is "Return to the Edge of Time", another "Metagalactic
Llamas" level. Again a bit more (A BIT?!) difficult than what
went before. An extra hazard has appeared in the form of a knife
that will suddenly drop down on you without being annihilatable.
There are also bovver boots (so that game did come back here!)
that will stamp on the goats before you can collect them, or at
least they'll try to and succeed if you'll let them. A big bonus
can be obtained by shooting the diamond thing's fragments before
they hit the ground.
And then, suddenly, we're back into "Gridrunner" land in "You
thought it was hard before". This time it's more difficult, of
course, and there are some rather nasty bubbles that will explode
rather of their own accord and try to hit you with their
fragments. And the bolts fly quicker, and you had better
concentrate on killing snakes as they hurl down upon you.
The penultimate level is called "Camelid Showdown". This is a
kind of boss monster level featuring a giant flying camel. You
have to fly high in the corner and fly to the opposite corner
once he arrives. And shoot your nuts off, of course (or, rather,
your thumbs off), and watch out for the shots that he fires,
"Final Fight" is, how else could it be, the last level. This is
a rather mean one because it's another different game style where
your bullets are used as reaction mass, i.e. you move in the
direction opposite to the one in which you're shooting in a style
I so much hated in games likes "Thrust" and "Oids" that rendered
these games unplayable for me. I guess it's one of my weird
idiosyncracies. Your shots bounce off the screen edges and hit
the enemies. You have to find out where they appear so you know
where to be and how to aim. After a shower of yak's heads the
final meanie monster arrives. All you have to do is kill it.
Well...let me tell you it won't be easy.
If you kill him you will get a congratulatory message saying
what a hard llama you are and how females of 18 different species
are requesting your hoof in marriage. And then the game ends,
Master Mode is activated and...you're right back at the beginning
to have another go at "Llamazap" with rather increased
And that's, in a verbose nutshell, "Llamazap".
Well, maybe the description of "nutshell" is not exactly
applicable. But who cares anyway.
"Llamazap" is a very challenging and very addictive arcade game.
Whatever happens, there's always plenty of colours on the screen
to fix your retinas as well as plenty of alien scumbags to
satiate your lust for alien blood. At the end of a playing
session you will invariable end up satisfied for having killed
countless baddies and having rescued various animals of the
cutely fluffy persuasion. And, of course, you'll equally
invariably end up with a sore wrist, blisters on your trigger
finger and a deep feeling of growing frustration, of wanting to
go back to get rid of some more unholy sons of extraterrestrials.
The whole playing experience is enhanced significantly by rather
smooth gameplay, nicely aggressive sound effects and pumping
music in between everything, and a patented learning curve that
is very steep but just not too steep not to get a little bit
further every time you play. If I had more time on my hands I
think I would by now be in need of a physiotherapist. It saves
hiscores (and instant access to whatever level you've been on)
and minimizes loading time when plenty of RAM is found. This is a
classroom example of what a game should be like. Naturally, it
can be installed on ya hard one, too.
"Llamazap" is, concisely and frankly, one hell of a fine game.
You have to dig the general Minterian insanity to fully
appreciate it and you definitely have to be quick in the reflex
department. But if you think that applies to you, there are few
games you should buy sooner than "Llamazap". So you'd better.
Author: Jeff Minter, with some help
Graphics: 9 (lots, varied and colour-y)
Sound: 9 (I might like house yet)
Overall rating: 9
Hardware: Falcon with Jaguar Powerpad
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.