Zzap


Mama Llama
By Llamasoft
Commodore 64

 
Published in Zzap #1

Yak the Hairy's freakiest yet

Mama Llama

The long awaited follow-up to Ancipital is here at last to take you through another 100 waves of ultra-freaky shoot-'em-up.

One of the game's original features is that instead of having one hairy animal in your care, you have three: a mama llama with two babies who imitate her every move. Any of the three can be killed separately, but the game continues until Mama herself perishes.

Each of the 100 screens offers a different attack wave, as varied and freaky as ever. In many ways they're reminiscent of the Minter classic Revenge, although in this game the action can scroll left or right, according to which way you move the llamas.

Mama Llama

There is also a fairly strong puzzle element. In many attack waves it's not just a matter of destroying aliens, you have to work out how to do it. This is extremely difficult to do. Unlike Ancipital, there are no 'help' screens offered.

Being hit by an enemy will sap energy, depending on the enemy and on how many shields you have. Losing all energy ends the game, but it can be recovered by making the llamas sit down for a spell.

The backgrounds are more colourful than in previous Minter games, maybe TOO colourful: sharp flashes and lack of crispness make the game look coarse and gaudy. Gameplay is damaged by the confusing colour changes, and after playing for a few hours my eyes started aching.

Mama Llama

Another aspect I found frustrating was the new approach to killing the creatures: rather than shooting, you have a large cursor (so-called 'killdroid') which zooms about the screen at high speed. To gain control over it, you press the fire button and then try to position it over an attacking object. This is very hard at first, and even after a lot of practice it still seemed to have a mind of its own. However, you can adjust the 'inertia' setting of killdroid during play, which helps a bit.

In addition to this, there are no less than SIX 'parameters' which can be set at the start to give you a custom-made game of your own. These cover such features as warptime, number of shields, rate at which enemies are being generated, and the number of times you can mistakenly select a 'nogo' symbol on the grid (see panel).

A nice tune plays throughout the game - apart from that, only a few zaps and crunches make any impact on the eardrums.

Mama Llama

Animation, as always, is up to Minter's high standards, but the graphics overall aren't as good as his other shoot-em-ups. They are marred by the high speed of play and confusion in the background - and with the killdroid whizzing about the screen, the whole screen becomes almost a graphical mess.

GP

Mama mia, what has Jeff Minter done? Simple. He's taken Revenge, altered the music, graphics, level select, and control method, and come up with an inferior product. Jeff loves to introduce new control methods into his games, but his latest idea - a hard to control

hamburger, whoops droid, doesn't impress me at all. The lurid background colours and crude blocky graphics did nothing to enhance my enjoyment of the game. I loved Ancipital but can't recommend this one.

BW

Mama Llama

My first sight of the action made me suspect that this was uncomfortably similar to Revenge. When you get through the hefty (hairy?) instructions, it is clear that there are quite a few changes. These changes make things quite interesting, but you are still left with the feeling of having seen it all before. It's fast action as usual, although just a bit too fast at times, and it generally follows Minter's pattern of strange and hairy games.

JR

Minter fanatics will have a right to be disappointed with this strange, hard-to-play release. Gaudy graphics and lack of control make it in my view his worst program of the last couple years. I tried hard to get into it. I failed.

The Strategy Part

As well as being a typical Minter shoot-em-up, Mama Llama also contains a strategy section which you play between attack waves.

In this stage, you are presented with a square 10X10 grid, with each square representing one wave. There's a flashing square in the bottom right, and by using two pointers it is possible to shuffle the rows and columns to select any desired wave.

Each square bears one of five logos, according to which one of five scrolling backgrounds is present during the attack wave. The colour of the square indicates how many aliens are present in the wave.

The idea is that the aliens are constantly multiplying, whether you're playing that wave or not. You have at your disposal a limited number of 'anti-genesis' and 'retro-genesis' devices, which you must place on individual squares in the grid to respectively halt and reverse the population explosion. These devices can be moved later, but you have only a limited time to spend on the grid stage before you must select a wave to begin zapping.

Should the number of aliens get too large, a 'nogo' symbol appears on that square - this symbol also appears if you complete a wave. You must beware - if while selecting a wave you move one of these symbols through the selection box, you will have a point knocked off your 'nogoes' rating. Do this too many times and your game finishes.

Verdict

Presentation 76%
Expansive, entertaining, but complicated instructions. Numerous options.

Originality 62%
Despite plenty of new features, too similar to previous Minter games.

Graphics 51%
Sorry Jeff, despite all the amazing creatures we think it looks horrible.

Hookability 49%
Even after several games there didn't seem too much addictiveness.

Sound 63%
A pleasant tune, plus a few pings and zaps.

Lastability 72%
If you like it, then there's almost endless challenge.

Value For Money 59%
Plenty there but we suspect even Minter fans may not take to it.

JR

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