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/// Usenet Review:  Llamatron
    -------------------------
    By Thomas Baetzler
    (s_walter@irav1.ira.uka.de)


PRODUCT NAME

        Llamatron 1.0


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        Llamatron is a totally spaced-out shoot'em up game in the vein of the
classic William's arcade machine "Robotron" for one or two players.  To
quote from the accompanying ReadMe file:

        "Llamatron takes the Robotron idea and distorts it in a Yakly
        fashion, adding loads of new stuff and plenty of furry beasties in
        the Llamasoft style."


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           LLamasoft
        Address:        49, Mount Pleasant
                        Tadley
                        Hants RG26 6BM
                        United Kingdom

        Telephone:      ++44 7356 4478


SHAREWARE FEE

        The author requests you send in 5 Pounds Sterling (UK) or more.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                None.  There are two versions of the game:  one for 512 KB
                and one for 1 MB or more of Chip RAM.  Llamatron works fine
                in both 68000 and 68030 mode.  I was not able to test
                compatibility with the 68040.  David Kinder reported that it
                works on the A1200.

        SOFTWARE

                To be able to run LLamatron on Kickstart 2.x and 3.0 systems
                or in 68020 or 68030 mode, you'll need the archive
                "fixllama.lha" from the "games/patch" directory of the
                Aminet ftp site.  You might also need the VBR utility
                (included in this review) or something similar to reset the
                vector base register of your CPU to the start of Chip RAM.

                Beware:  there are hacked versions of Llamatron floating
                about.  To use the patch, you'll need the original archive
                which contains two loaders and two data files.  You can find
                a suitable archive on the AB20 or AMINET_0693 CD-ROM discs,
                in "AB20/GAMES/ACTION". The hacked version included on
                Almathera's Demo CD-ROM will not work.


COPY PROTECTION

        None.  Llamatron will boot just fine off a floppy disk or load from
hard disk. I was even able to compress the main game file using the XPK
package, which saved me approximately 100 KB of disk space.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

        My test setup includes:

        o       Amiga 2000, ECS chipset, Kickstart 2.04, Workbench 2.1
        o       Commodore A2630 68030 accelerator with 4 MB of 32-bit memory
        o       Picasso II graphics card


REVIEW

        Jeff 'The Yak' Minter has been a household name since the golden age
of home computing, back when the Commodore 64 was a hot machine.  He always
used to perplex players by taking a completely sane game idea and twisting
it until it had become totally crazy.

        Llamatron fits this description quite nicely.  It's the basic
Robotron game, with you buzzing around trying to fend off hordes of meanies
and saving your proteges in the process.  But as things turn out, you're not
a super-hero, but a fast spitting llama, and you're up against enemies like
phone booths, cigarette papers and screaming Mandelbrot sets.

        The game can be played by one or two players, and one or two
joysticks can be utilized in one player mode.  Using one joystick, you move
around spitting in your current direction, and you can lock this direction by
pressing the fire button.  Using both joysticks, you can play in the original
Robotron mode, where one joystick controls your movements while the other
directs your fire.  For beginners, there is a "droid" mode in which a
computer player assists you.

        The basic rule of the game is:  "If it moves, shoot it, and if it
doesn't move, it's an obstacle that must be destroyed".  An exception to this
rule are the various beasties waiting to be saved by you.  Move close to one
of them, and it'll follow you, and you'll get extra firepower for a short
time.  Saving the last beastie on the screen will give you a three-way
firepower extra.  If collecting the extra is the last thing you do in a
level, it'll be awarded to you in the next level.

        All levels start out with you at the center of the screen, and
various meanies out there to catch you.  Blast all of them into oblivion, and
you'll advance to the next level.  Your goal is to advance to level 99 and
destroy the Ozric Tentacle to get to Herd Heaven on level 100.  As you
progress, you'll encounter certain types of level over and over again.  On
the "Herd Levels", you'll have to try and save your beasties from the evil
brains that turn them into yucky mutant beasts.  On "Rain levels", you'll
have to catch all of the floating umbrellas to stop the rain while dodging
the usual set of adversaries.  Do well, and you'll be rewarded much-needed
extras, like super firepower, bouncing missiles, and (above all) extra lives.
Difficulty in the starting levels is low, but it increases steadily.  Almost
everybody manages to get to level 5 once they've familiarized themselves
with the control, and after a few games they're possibly up at level 10.
Beyond that, it starts to get nasty, and by level 25, it's sheer murder.

        The graphics are well done, by Commodore 64 standards.  On the Amiga,
they're definitely nothing to write home about.  From the first instant,
you'll be able to tell that this game wasn't done by Psygnosis.  But then,
this doesn't matter at all, since while playing you don't have the time to
look at them anyways.  Zap and blast effects are plentiful, however.

        The sound is limited to sound effects in demo mode and while playing
the game.  Jeff recommends to turn it up loud!  You might give it a try if
you want to drive your neighbors (roommates, parents, etc.) up the wall.
It's what you'd expect from a twisted brain:  screams and moans and
explosions, and even a bleating sheep.

        If you add it all up, you get a fiendishly difficult shoot'em up with
average graphics and some strange sound effects.  And yet, it all combines
to make a very addictive game that keeps you glued to the computer until
somebody arrives and demands that you stop the awful racket you're making.
Maybe it's the Minter factor that makes us return to this game again and
again.


DOCUMENTATION

        The original archive contains a large "ReadMe" file written by Jeff
Minter.  Besides the basic game instructions, it contains Jeff's explanation
of why games look the way they do, and much plain rambling.  If you're into
that kind of stuff, you'll surely enjoy it.

        The "fixllama" archive contains detailed instructions on how to
apply the patch.  Basically, you're just installing new loader programs.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

        Llamatron takes over the Amiga completely, which is fundamentally
evil from today's point of view.  Expect to get into big trouble if you run
Llamatron while other applications are writing to a disk.

        Highscores aren't saved, so you'll have to resort to Polaroid
pictures if you want to record them for posterity.

        Having Llamatron run unter the OS would sure be nice, but I just
can't imagine Jeff Minter writing OS compliant code.  And since he's quite
possibly off to program the Jaguar or the soon-to-be released Cray XMP
handheld, don't expect him to rewrite Llamatron using the lowlevel.library.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        If you're interested in other interpretations of the basic "Robotron"
theme, check out "Marketroid" on AmigaLibDisk (Fish Disk) 155.  It's Leo
Schwab's entry for the 1987 BADGE "Killer Demo" Contest, and it's still fun
to watch.  And yes, this runs fine on a 68030 Amiga running OS 2.04.  After
all those years!


BUGS

        Llamatron doesn't open its own screen, but tries to grab the memory
from the Workbench screen.  If you're in PAL mode, everything is fine.  If
you run Llamatron from a NTSC Workbench, you can't see some of the bottom
lines of the display.  Using other display modes will quite possibly crash
the program.  I am using a special startup script that resets the VBR and
switches to a standard PAL display before starting Llamatron to avoid
trouble.  Using a saved screenmode Prefs file, and the VBR utility, my
script looks like:

        screenmode use palmode.prefs
        vbr >NIL: ?             ; WARN if VBR is != 0
        if warn
                vbr >NIL:       ; toggle the VBR from Fast to Chip RAM
        endif                   ; and vice versa.

        This works quite nicely if no foreign windows are opened on the
Workbench.  Trying to switch screenmodes while there are non-Workbench
windows on the Workbench screen will prohibit the display mode change,
possibly resulting in a crash.

        The loader patches in the fixllama archives fix an incompatibility
problem with Kickstart 2.0 and above.  They were written by David Kinder.
You can reach him on Internet as "kinder@teaching.physics.ox.ac.uk", or via
conventional mail:

        David Kinder
        2 Clwtt Cottages,
        Bangor Rd.
        Gyfelia, Nr. Wrexham
        Clwyd, LL13 0YL
        UNITED KINGDOM


PATCHES

        Here is the "vbr" patch mentioned in the review, in uuencoded
format.  Extract everything from the "begin" to "end" (inclusive) and
use the uudecode program on UNIX or the Fish Disks to create the executable
vbr program.

begin 777 vbr
M```#P`````````!``````````````"4```#Z0```)1(YX"`1_H`UD*3DDL
M>``$3J[^VBA`2JP`K&820>P`7$ZN_H!![`!<3J[^C":`0_H`<G`G3J[]V"=`
M__QF2E"/0_H`;$ZN_FA*@&<B+$!.KO_$(@!G#D/Z`&)V`#89)`E.KO_0(DXL
M>``$3J[^8B(Z`&QG$B`+'@`!$ZN_WPB04ZN_H8@'TYU3-!`6%28=XO`")Z
M`$0L>``$3J[^8B`?3G5A<G`N;&EB<F%R>0!D;W,N;&EB<F%R>0``'`I!4E`@
M3&EB<F%R>2!V,SDK(&YE961E9"`A"@H``````````'H`+'@`!!(N`2D"`0`#
M9@A!^@#(DE@+DOZ`+1.KO_B#$```F8^#%`P"F<P#%`_"F8R*@=%^@$H0?H!
M"$/Z`2@BBB-'``0L>0```-A.KO<2H5F!'``3G5P!4YU2H=F&'``3G4,;@`A
M`!1D"$'Z`(J3R6#22H=G'"!'DE`&$(D=P`#`!`!.KON0?H`J)/)8+)P
M`#`!`!R`4ZN_SHL`&8(0?H`>I/)8)J1R")&80HN!D7Z`*1@`/]^<``P/`0`
M3J[]D$OZ``Q.[O_B3GIX`4YS3GMH`4YS!S8X,#$P+S(P+S,P(')E86QL>2!N
M965D960A"@``!U-O<G)Y+"!B=70@>6]U<B!+:6-K<W1A<G0@:7,@=&]O(&]L
M9"X*``=.;W0@96YO=6=H(&UE;6]R>2$*``!60E(@<F5S970N"@`E<R!60E(@
M861D<F5S<SH@)"4P.&QX"@!.97<`0W5R<F5N=``````````````````#[```
2``$````````!*`````````/R
`
end


VENDOR SUPPORT

        I have registered my copy of Llamatron back in 1991, and back then I
received a nice Zarjaz poster and a Llamasoft newsletter.  I don't know for
sure whether they are still in the Amiga business, but you might give it a
try.


WARRANTY

        None.


CONCLUSIONS

        A judgement of Llamatron has to be subjective.  Either you like the
game, in which case you'll find it brilliant, or you don't like it at all.
I happen to like it quite a bit.  There's nothing like 5 minutes of sheer
mindless blasting to unwind after a hard day's work.

        I rate it four golden furry creatures (out of a total five).


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

           Copyright 1993 Thomas Baetzler.  All rights reserved.
                        Reprinted with permission.

        You can contact me at:

                fhinf@iraul1.ira.uka.de         (until October 1993)
                s_walter@irav1.ira.uka.de       (send CC: to here please)
                Thomas.Baetzler@mil.ka.sub.org  (slow but reliable)
                Medic BSS, 2:2476/454.2@fidonet (very slow but reliable)

                Thomas Baetzler, Herrenstr.  62, 76133 Karlsruhe, FRG
                Voice: ++49 (0)721 29872  Medic BBS: ++49 (0)721 496821