Matrix/Laserzone (Ariolasoft) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

By Llamasoft
Commodore 16

Published in Commodore User #36


Matrix and Laserzone are two of the all-time arcade classics released first on the Vic-20 and then about two years ago for the C64 by Llamasoft. Both of them have now been translated to the C16 by one Aaron Liddiment (can this person really exist?) and are being sold under the Ariolasoft label for the extremely reasonable price of seven quid.

Matrix has to be one of the most manic shoot-'em-ups ever devised, it is sheer mayhem. As the story goes, it is ten years on from the Grid Wars and veteran Gridrunner pilots (i.e. you) have once again been summoned to repeal an attack by the deadly droids. (Gridrunner was another piece of Minter magic - forerunner of Matrix.)

Combat takes place on the power matrix, your ship is free to manoeuvre over the entire surface. Droids appear in attack waves, centipede style. This is where the fun starts - sheer, non-stop panic blasting. The first zone is manageable as there is only one string of droids, but from then on it gets pretty hectic.

When shot, the droids turn into time bombs which eventually hatch out and drop on you. They can be destroyed with some saturation shooting but it takes time - one thing you don't have an abundance of.

If all this sounds merely difficult, don't worry, there's more. X and Y zappers patrol their respective axes delivering deadly death rays along randomly selected grid lines. At higher zones the Snitch, a loathesome little humanoid, walks along the top of the matrix and gives away your position to the X/Y zappers.

The later zones have some other interesting diversions. Deflexors cause your missiles to ricochet at unpredictable angles, often straight back at you - use them with caution. Minter's trademark, the ubiquitous camel, puts in its usual appearance on some of the screens.

Matrix is still one of my favourite C64 megablasts and the C16 version is every bit as enjoyable. The only noticeable difference is that the sound and graphics are a bit woolly and not so clearly defined, but that doesn't detract one bit from the game.

Laserzone, like Matrix, is an arcade shoot-'em-up in the classic Minter mould. The difference is that this one requires you to think before you blast. No room here for the quick reflex, blast everything, approach, you'll only end up shooting yourself in the foot.

Here's the plot. Terran Federation - goodies, Zzyaxian Warfiends - baddies. The Terrans have constructed lazerzones upon which two computer-controlled plasma cannons blast the evil hordes to oblivion while you enjoy a nice cup of tea.

But, guess what kids, the computer has broken down and you must take control and repel the Zzyzaxian invaders. On a simple level Laserzone is a bit like playing Space Invaders on two axes at once, but it can be more complicated.

When the nasty creatures reach the bottom, or side of the screen, they start to creep up on your plasma cannon. The only means of blasting them at this stage is to shoot diagonally from the vertical cannon onto the horizontal plane, or vice versa. Get what I mean?

The danger here is, of course, that in your zeal to destroy the encroaching fiends you can easily vapourise one of your own cannons. If things really get out of hand you have the option of using the Electro - a space bar activated panic button that destroys everything in sight.

There are a number of options for those who don't fancy solo blasting, one allows two players to compete using one joystick, another lets you get some practice before attempting the real thing.

Like Matrix, Laserzone is an excellent version of the original. No self-respecting arcade addict should be without this twin pack.

Ken McMahon

Other Commodore 16 Game Reviews By Ken McMahon

  • Ninja Master Front Cover
    Ninja Master
  • Bubble Trouble Front Cover
    Bubble Trouble
  • Mr. Puniverse Front Cover
    Mr. Puniverse
  • Booty Front Cover
  • World Series Baseball Front Cover
    World Series Baseball
  • Jet Set Willy II Front Cover
    Jet Set Willy II
  • Winter Olympics Front Cover
    Winter Olympics
  • Storm Front Cover
  • Winter Events Front Cover
    Winter Events
  • The Way Of The Tiger Front Cover
    The Way Of The Tiger