Return of the Mutant Camels is the third game in the Llamasoft ‘Camels‘ series, after Attack of the Mutant Camels and Revenge of the Mutant Camels, and it is arguably the best of the bunch. It was first published by Mastertronic in 1987 as a budget game.
In Return of the Mutant Camels you once again control a camel, fighting your way through exactly one hundred different attack waves. You start the game in the top left-hand corner of a grey board, which is a 10×10 grid representing all the available attack waves. When you complete one wave it’s then marked as red, then you can then choose another wave as long as it’s within range of the flashing green circle that indicates your position. If you fail a wave (ie. die trying to beat it) then your last position is marked with a cross on a grid square.
To the right of the board is a shop for spending credits on weapons. Before entering an attack wave you can buy some special bullets, or shields or extra energy, or even a sidekick “beastie”, which might improve your survival chances.
Each attack wave lasts for a certain amount of time; is a certain colour, and is a certain graphical style or theme. The idea is to blast everything that moves in the attack wave; surviving until the end. And doing that over and over until you’ve beaten all 100 waves… A not inconsiderable task as some of the waves are more difficult to survive than others.
Return of the Mutant Camels has some nice touches, like the camel exploding in rainbows colours when he spawns onto the playfield, and the camel’s two attack modes: ‘walk and shoot’ and ‘floating bomber’, which are easy to switch between and makes dealing with enemies a bit more tactical than just holding the fire button down all the time.
The downside is that pretty much all the variation in the levels comes from the graphics and sound and not from the gameplay, which is basically the same thing over and over. The repetitive nature of waves is a shame because with a bit more thought the player could’ve been given more to do than just shoot. This series could’ve gone to slightly different places and been considerably better.