The Atari ST version of Andes Attack was developed and published by Llamasoft in 1989. It is a re-imagining of Jeff Minter‘s earlier Defender clone, first released on the VIC-20 in 1982. It is also a precursor to Minter‘s Defender II, which plays very similarly and was released the following year, in 1990.
Andes Attack features the same control method as Defender II – mouse movement for the player spaceship; left mouse button to thrust forward; right mouse button to turn around, and left Shift on the keyboard to fire, which personally I find to be cumbersome and wish there was some way of customising the controls to at least move that damn fire button. While the game plays okay in general, it does make taking screenshots extremely difficult!
Graphically, ST Andes Attack I think is very naive in its presentation. The kind of graphics that worked so well in Minter‘s earlier VIC-20 and Commodore 64 games look amateurish here, and the panel design around the screen – and the fonts – are childish-looking.
Collision detection is feather light in my opinion, meaning that you seem to collide with enemies far too easily for my liking. On a number of occasions I thought: “there’s no way!” as my craft exploded into pieces. In general, though, the control system works okay. I found Andes Attack to be more playable than Defender II, but I still didn’t like it very much because of the unfair collision, and also because stuff seems to spawn, come out of nowhere, and take you out in an instant, which isn’t much fun. It’s also difficult to discern explosion debris (which is harmless) from enemy bullets (which are obviously deadly), which is a gameplay oversight in my opinion. Andes Attack is another Minter game that really hasn’t had enough thought put into it.
The ST version of Andes Attack is currently available for free on Minter‘s own website (along with a fair few of his other earlier games) – at the time of writing. Which at least gives us the chance to see what they were like – whether we actually like playing them or not.
See also: Jeff Minter Collection