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Voidrunner

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Released: 1986

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4

Publisher: Llamasoft

Developer: Jeff Minter

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

Voidrunner, one of only four Llamasoft games released on the C16, is certainly the coolest. With minimalistic in game graphics with smooth but rapid movement, Yak has produced one tripped-out classic here.

OK, this is a real hardcore shooter with its roots firmly planted in the Atari classic ‘Centipede’. However the concept has been advanced to the extreme –  all the familiar elements of Centipede are here in level one (That’s level ‘Yak’), but from level two ( Level ‘Llama’) things start to become a bit more interesting (bloody hard). 

Your ship is made up of four pods –  in level ‘Yak’ they are all linked together to form one unit which can move across the screen in both planes just as in Centipede. Level ‘Llama’ sees more or less the same thing – only upside down. Now this is just the start, there are thirty levels of this insanity to cope with, and as the levels progress your ship will fire backwards, diagonally and probably inside out as well (From level ‘Sheep’ onwards your craft’s pods will split up, and movement of the pods will become reflected and/or inverted !) 

As I have mentioned, this is serious hardcore stuff, and its not made any easier by the spaced out graphics – the screen is constantly filled with streaming destruction, yak and camel smart bombs exploding and don’t forget the aliens themselves squirming at breakneck speed across the screen. As maybe an admission that this game is absurdly hard, any of the first sixteen levels can be chosen as a starting point, and an extra life is granted after the completion of each wave – it doesn’t make it any easier though.

The sonics and visuals are fantastic; a pseudo ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ sound bite kicks off the start of each wave, with trippy ‘Psychedelia’ type visuals creating a ‘V’ symbol which falls across the screen before the action starts. The spaced out presentation of Voidrunner, along with the insane speed and toughness of the game makes it one of my favourites from Llamasoft.