Personal Computer News

Commodore Combat

Author: Bob Chappell
Publisher: Llamasoft
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Personal Computer News #018

Pete Gerrard faces death by camel, droid, pod, meteorite, Black Rider and boredom.

Commodore Combat

This week it's time to take a look at a clutch of the latest arcade-action style games for the Commodore 64.

Some are good, some are undeniably bad, while others are merely indifferent - but certainly, new releases for the Commodore 64 are starting to come in thick and fast. Among the goodies are Attack of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner and Shadowfax; bad is Tank Atak and merely indifferent is Rox 64.

Attack Of The Mutant Camels

Attack Of The Mutant Camels, from Llamasoft, is a gem! Enemy aliens have abducted some normally harmless camels, and turned them into 90ft high, neutronium-shielded laser-spitting, death camels.

As defender of the planet Earth, your mission is to destroy these camels by setting your highly manoeuvrable spaceship into position and firing repeatedly at them until their neutronium shields are reduced to nothing and they are annihilated.

As you're doing this, they are slowly marching towards your scanner defences, and if they reach them you are destroyed in a devastating display of graphic pyrotechnics.

The camels, six per screen, have two main weapons. One fairly harmless missile wanders vaguely in your direction, and you can withstand four hits from that. The other missile is lethal, and homes in on you with frightening accuracy, taking one of your five lives in the process.

Destroy all six camels, and you have to dodge a hail of rockets before progressing on to the next screen, where you find more camels. There are 31 levels in all, and I defy anyone to get to the end without cheating. A brilliant piece of software, which shows just what the machine can really do.

Great sound, stunning graphics, incredibly fast response, and an addictive quality that will have you reaching again for the joystick before you can say Darth Vader.


Another game from Llamasoft, which makes you wonder why all computer arcade games cannot be like these two.

Upgraded from an earlier Vic 20 game, it puts you in charge of the Gridrunner, a spaceship sent out to combat the invading hordes of enemy droids.

The fast action all takes place on a grid, which features a variety of enemies out to destroy you.

The gridsearcher squads consist of linked droid segments and as they move across the gird they must be destroyed. Hit one, and the rest of the squad splits up into two smaller segments, and so on until you hve a number of individual droids whizzing about the place.

Collision with these is lethal, but even when you hit one they have two final weapons. Any one you hit turns into a pod, which lodges itself on the grid, and these must be hit a number of times before final annihilation.

If left alone they gradually change shape until finally unleashing a bolt of enemy at you. This bolt is lethal, and must be avoided.

Also on the rampage are the X-Y zappers, which roam about the boundaries of the grid, periodically firing bolts of energy across it. Again, a hit from one of those is usually deadly, and another one of your five lives disappears in a cloud of vapour.

With a bonus life achieved after successfully destroying every droid, you move on to the next level, and more of everything.

There are 31 levels in all, and at the top level I can guarantee your destruction after about five seconds!

Another fast and furious game, it's difficult to grow tired of this one. It uses the power of the C64 to the full.

Tank Atak

Alas for Supersoft, Tank Atak is a disaster. Based on the popular arcade game of usually the same name, it is hopeless.

You are in front of a range of mountains, out of which come various machines bent on your destruction. Using very simple line graphics, tanks, pods and saucers come at you, and you must train your sights on them before shooting and hopefully destroying them.

Points are scored for each one you hit, and a primitive early warning system tells you when more enemy are in range.

Slower than Geoff Boycott crafting a centure, this game has no lasting appeal. Better sound can be obtained from the Spectrum, and the graphics are a joke.

Forget it.

Rox 64

The opening screen scenario of Rox 64 describes you as being in charge of lunar defences against a barrage of deadly meteorites.

Your defence module is equipped with three lasers, which can fire vertically up the screen or diagonally to left or right, plus a special "panic button", which you can use four times only in the care of dire emergency.

You survive for as long as you can, but each meteorite getting through does just that little bit more damage to the lunar surface, until, ultimately, you are wiped out.

The game is tediously slow, and your ship cannot be moved, thus affording only limited defence possibilities. Only one missile can be fired at a time (you gain points for each meteorite destroyed, plus a bonus after each attack wave), and although you're promised an "awesome mothership display" if you manage to save your base. I've seen more awesome sights around Piccadilly Circus on a Saturday night.

Slow, boring and predictable, Llamasoft has made a great mistake here. On the plus side, the program can be listed (it's all in Basic) and beginners to the art of programming can at least see how the sprites are manipulated and the sound generated.

Not worth £4.95.


You are the legendary wizard Gandalf the White, riding Shadowfax, the swiftest steed ever to grace Middle Earth.

Towards you are riding wave after wave of Black Riders, some slow, some fast, but all with one mission in life: to destroy you.

One touch from a Black Rider means instant death, so avoid them at all costs. However, to justify your status as a White Wizard you must destroy them by hurling bombs of awesome energy.

From such a scenario has sprung many a dreadful game, but this is very much an exception to the rule.

The superb graphics as Gandalf gallops along, the sound of the horses' hooves as the Black Riders charge to meet you, and the interesting way of firing, all add up to a very good and addictive game.

The bolts you fire will explode only when you take your finger off the fire button, and a rider can be killed only when a bolt is detonated next to him. Rapid eye-finger co-ordination is required.

Points are scored for each rider you kill, and the longer the game progresses the faster the action gets. There are no different levels of play. Superb!

Bob ChappellPete Gerrard

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