Traxx is a grid game, grids being the earliest Llamasoft craze. The idea is that you must capture squares while avoiding bugs that float about. It is similar to Qix, though somewhat cruder.

Llamasoft - Traxx - Vic 20


What a mouthful! Metagalactic Llamas is certainly not a game to play at the dinner table. Llamas spit, metagalactic llamas spit something pink, totally disgusting, and lethal. Pitched against the salivating llamas are some hellish looking "Zzyaxian cyborg arachnid mutants". Shooting the spiders will earn you points, but hitting the threads they hang on can be risky. When a shot thread snaps, the spider falls to earth, metamorphoses and chases the llama. You can still get to blast at the spiders as they scuttle over good old terra firma, by bouncing your llama's spit off a horizontal force field controlled by the up and down action of your joystick. In one way part of the game is all about clever deflection of... ugh, spit.

Unlike later Llamasoft products, Metagalactic Llamas does not offer a great range of beasties to zap. But then the original game was written for the memory-poor Vic 20. An improved version of the game runs on the Commodore 64. Spectrum owners will find a version for their machine is available from Salamander Software. Simple though it may be, Metagalactic Llamas is an enthralling zap, and in retrospect was a clear indication of weirder things yet to come from the mind of Minter.

Metagalactic Llamas Battle At The Edge Of Time - Llamasoft - Vic 20
Gridrunner - Llamasoft - C64


International best-seller, Gridrunner is loosely based on the old Atari game, Centipedes. Minter's influences are as easy to spot as Marc Bolan's. Instead of taking place at the bottom of a garden, Llamasoft's update of the old classic sets the action in deepest space, so Bill, Ben and Little Weed can take a nap. Once again we are pitted against the evil might of the Zzyaxian Empire. You are in control of a space ship, the Gridrunner, which can move around the lower portion of a big red grid, it seems that space in full of them. Your task is to vaporize droids as they hurtle from the top of the screen towards and past you.

So far the game is just like a souped-up version of Centipedes. The nasty bits are the X-Y zappers which patrol the fringes of the grid taking pot shots at you and yours. They fire plasma pulses, which are bad enough, but when two pulses cross, a Pod is formed. Pods can only be destroyed by repeated blasting. After a few minutes of sewaty palms and joystick fatigue, a successful campaign is rewarded with the message, "Grid Zapped". The euphoria is short-lived, as within seconds another wave starts. A total of twenty waves complete the game. In its day Gridrunner was a masterpiece; it still plays well today, even if it is a little unsophisticated. Definitely a game for novices to sharpen their claws on.

Laser Zone - Llamasoft - C64


Laser Zone turns Gridrunner on its head. Instead of dodging the X-Y zappers, you are now placed in control of them. Poacher turned gamekeeper. The program makes ingenious use of the joystick. X-Y zappers can move up and down the bottom and right and sides of the grid shooting at the port wretches that happen to be there. Funny how you can't remember what it felt like. Moving your joystick left to right controls the horizontal zapper, and moving it up and down controls the vertical one.
Initially the zappers only need to fire straight forwards, out into space. However should the aliens reach one of the sides of the the grid, they will crawl towards the zapper in order to destroy it. You can get around this by controlling your zapper to fire a diagonal shot. However you must take care not to blast the other zapper. The key to mastering Laser Zone is mastering this diagonal shooting technique.

Hover Bovver - Llamasoft - C64


Of all the Llamasoft games, Hover Bovver stands out as being different. It is a distinctly suburban game, set in a large back garden. The aim of the game is to cut a lawn. It sounds simple. Yet the whole deal is complicated by the neighbours, whose mower you "borrowed" to mow the lawn. You avoid them, or better still, get your dog on them. Shouting "Down Shep" doesn't work. This is more a cutesy game than a blaster.

Hover Bovver is available on both the C64 and the Atari micros. There is little difference between the versions, yet the game feels slightly better on the Atari. In the Llamasoft newsletter, The Nature of the Beast, Jeff writes that "the more I see of the Atari, the more I like it. The potential of the machine is enormous, and the colour effects knock out your eyeballs".

Sheep In Space - Llamasoft - C64


Slightly reminiscent of Defender, Sheep In Space is set in surreal surroundings with a planet surface at the bottom and top of the screne, the inside of a huge torus of "doughnut" which is eight miles round. A number of these ecosystems were built to supply a human colony precariously located on the fringe of the Zzyaxian Empire.