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Llamatron - The Atari Times


Old School Gameplay meets the Yak
by Gregory D. George

July 22, 2002
When Jeff Minter released the Jaguar classics Tempest 2000 and Defender 2000 there were those who secretly hoped that this Minter classic would appear as a hidden game. Alas, neither of them included it, but that wouldn't stop people from becoming addicted to Llamatron.

Llamatron is obviously a remake of the classic Williams game, Robotron 2084. In Robotron 2084, you are out to save the humanoids from the grunts, brains, and the like. However, in Llamatron, you play the role of a butt-kicking Llama who's goal is to rescue the sheep, camels, and other beasties from annihilation. Enemies such as hamburgers, Space Invaders, walking plants, telephones, deadly fractals, and even a disgusting toilet spewing out who-knows-what will try to kill you and your precious beasties!

The graphics of Llamatron are small, but there is a huge variety of them. I must admit, I've never seen so many moving sprites on the ST before and the animation is smooth with no flicker whatsoever. The game never did win any awards for mind-blowing graphics, but that's expected with a game such as this. I like them anyway for the insane amount of variety!

Sound is such an underrated area in gaming and Atari gaming in particular. There are so many Atari games that lack sound or music and after you play Llamatron you'll begin to expect more from those old games. The sound effects and voice samples are nothing short of astounding and there is a never-ending supply of them. My absolute favorite sample is the soft-spoken, "I love you" when you get the "heart" power-up making all the beasties come towards you. Giant monsters bellow the most terrifying screams as they die. Beasties bleat when trampled or saved and there are dozens of sound effects that can be recognized from games such as Klax, Defender, and (naturally) Robotron 2084.

One of the scariest propositions with Robotron 2084 clones is that there are very few instances when you can play the game with two joysticks as originally intended. The 7800 has a two-joystick mode giving you the ability to move in one direction and to fire in the other. However, other control methods tend to ruin the "gimmick" of the original game offering up some hackneyed scheme for firing in one direction while moving in the other.

Llamatron throws all that out of the window and achieves the best method of firing-moving I have yet to see. (Why other Robotron 2084 clones don't adopt this, I'll never know.) Minter has assumed that the player is going to want to fire his weapon 100% of the time, so firing is completely automatic. Holding down the fire button locks the gun into a firing direction allowing you to move in the opposite direction while still firing out of your arse (or wherever!)

Gameplay-wise, Llamatron is so much more than a simple Robotron 2084 clone. It never even gives you a chance to become bored! I've always felt that the only thing to look forward to in Robotron 2084 is the ever-increasing difficulty. Llamatron however offers a new game-play obstacle or creature in each successive level. The variety is astounding and and I don't think I've ever seen a level repeat with the exact same characteristics. Indestructible llasers will appear on occasion that you must avoid, weird and deadly boss creatures must be dealt with, rain must be avoided (?), and other weird an exciting gameplay elements crop up in each new level. Trust me, you will NEVER get bored with this game.

Another incredible improvement over Robotron 2084 is the addition of power-ups. These power-up appear randomly and will give you enhancements such as super-lasers, lasers which bounce off of walls, three-way lasers, bombs, extra lives, the heart power-up, and an assortment of power-ups that remain unknown. (What is that rainbow looking one do anyway?)

One of the most essential is the super-laser which is briefly turned on whenever you save a beastie. Of course the super-laser cuts through the enemies like a hot knife through butter making your job a lot easier. This adds an extra dimension to the game and gives the player extra motivation to save the beasties.

Llamatron also offers several gameplay modes including two-player, one-player solo, and one-player with a droid assistant. True gamers will avoid using the droid since it makes the game much too easy. ;-)

If you just play Llamatron for a few moments, you'll understand why Jeff Minter is so revered by Atari fans. The game is pure adrenaline and offers more fun as a free game than most others do as a $50 one. The Atari ST version is really the best way to go and you won't be sorry you spent the time downloading it. This is one of my all-time favorite games. Thanks Mr. Minter!

Time for a little butt-kicking llama action!
Brains will turn your cute beasties into deadly zombeasts!
This deadly fractal will chase you around mercilessly.
The deadly toilet of doom! Be careful of what explodes from it!
System: Atari-ST
Publisher: Llamasoft
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 90%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: 90%

Final Score: 95%

Reader Comments for Llamatron

"Rainbow" powerup by Flash! on 2007-11-15 10:52:48
The Rainbow Poer up is the coveted Floyd Bonus taken from the cover of Darkside of the Moon - Jeff Minter is a huge Pink Floyd fan :)
The rainbow-powerups... by Dark-Star on 2008-03-29 18:24:54
give you extra points.
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