Andes Attack, VIC-20

Andes Attack was the first commercial game release from Jeff Minter and Llamasoft, and it was of course a clone of an arcade game (Defender). Andes Attack was first released in 1982 for the VIC-20 and did reasonable business, in spite of it not actually being very good.

You can’t see much of the play area at any one point and there’s no scanner to tell you where the enemy are. The ‘humans’ the aliens are supposedly ‘swooping down’ on to abduct look more like blue chairs than actual people. There’s not much to the gameplay other than shooting alien sprites and avoiding collisions. If you find an alien trying to carry away a blue chair you can shoot the alien away, but whether the fall damage kills the chair or not isn’t clear. Surprisingly there aren’t really any camels, llamas or sheep in the game either – it’s just an oversized Defender clone that doesn’t go anywhere or innovate. Which is disappointing.

Andes Attack doesn’t indicate Minter‘s greatness to come, but it does show his enthusiasm for making clones of other people’s games, but with his own unique twist applied to them. Llamasoft made a lot of games over the next three decades that cloned or satirised other people’s creations, sometimes even officially in the form of Tempest, and Minter became a celebrity coder who wanted to plough his own furrow making surreal games about animals, rather than program for cash like the easily-exploited yuppie kids.

Andes Attack – and a selection of other simple games like Attack of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner and Hover Bovver – at least put Llamasoft on the map in the early Eighties. And Minter would go on to create much better games, like Iridis Alpha, Batalyx, Revenge of the Mutant Camels, and Ancipital, and they are what he’s remembered for now. Not Andes Attack… 🙂

An Atari ST conversion of Andes Attack was released in 1989. I’m guessing for the tenth anniversary of the formation of Llamasoft, but I could be wrong.

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