The All New Alan Cartridge Files
Part 5
By Wayne Womersley

FILE 5: ATTACK OF THE MUTANT CAMELS by HesWare


Before I begin I should mention this game was called MATRIX over here in ENGLAND, it was programmed by the coding god JEFF MINTER and released through his own label LLAMASOFT on Cassette. The game got released in America on Cartridge and got re-named to this, which is confusing because Jeff also released a game in England called Attack Of The Mutant Camels (the first of the Mutant Camel Games) which is heavily influenced by the INTELLVISION game THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Confusing huh? Anyway on with the review...


25 Years old!!! Blimey, how old does this game make me feel? I remember it being out at the time my mum bought our first C64, but I didn’t get the pleasure of playing this until the early 1990's on the wonderful YAK'S PROGRESS (a Compilation of Jeff's old games for the uninitiated! Yak was Jeff's name on the old 'Compunet' service, an early Internet for us C64’ers).

Initial visuals give the impression of a centipede clone - Do Not Be Fooled! This is a MUCH different game! You take control of a ship at the bottom of the screen that must shoot and destroy all enemies that appear. These come in the shape of caterpillar-style beasties, which split into pieces when shot (much like the original 'Centipede' game), and Camels; these enemies move around the screen and occasionally fire at you too. Just to make things more interesting there are also guns firing at you that move on the X and Y-axis of the screen respectively. Later levels feature mirrors that bounce your shots back at you and diagonally moving enemies.


Another nice touch is there are several Mystery Bonuses that can be gained but you have to work out how to get them! There are 20 Levels in total, with the option of starting on any of the first 6 via an option on the title screen. It’s a very raw, basic blaster, you can see a lot of Jeff's game ideas in early form here, the moving grid, the futuristic setting, the animals and the absolutely wacky sound effects that still sound mad today - superb! And let’s not forget the use of colour, used in the game for the intro and when you die, minimal but effective nonetheless...

My Best score is Level 11 and a score of 88788 so far...

BY THE WAY

The screenshots on the back of the Cartridge box are different to the game itself. Weird... There again, that's Jeff Minter all over, that's why we love him :->

AND ALSO...

Jeff also released Lazer Zone on Cartridge, never seen it on Ebay yet though...

DIFFERENCES

As with most early Cartridge games there is very little difference between the Tape and Cartridge version. However, because it was released on Cartridge by H.E.S. over in America this version is that bit more appreciated by your collector, especially because of the Jeff Minter connection. The only differences between versions are the obvious name changing on the title screen and also the scrolling messages on the title screen. In-game I also noticed the British version displays the word 'MATRIX' above the score display, in the American version it's replaced by A.M.C. - the abbreviation for Attack Of The Mutant Camels. Gameplay-wise everything else is identical. I did find the Cartridge shape to be of particular interest, American Cartridges tend to have a certain shape about them, this is slightly different in design and looks like it’s been specially made for this game. The Cartridge also has 'HESWARE tm' quite clearly marked on the Cartridge too, interesting...


WHOOPS!

Nearly forgot, before I go I must mention the fantastic and wonderful loveliness that is the game VOIDRUNNER, cassette only but it would be a crime for you to miss the final game in the 'Grid' Series.

NEXT TIME

I roll my sleeves up and get stuck in to my favourite Computer Game of Golf on any home system. See you soon gang :-)