(Rainbow Arts, 1990)
Reviewed by Chris Lennard
The year is 2019. Aliens have materialised in the deepest, darkest seas and are now steadily destroying the earth’s surface. Following this disastrous first contact with extraterrestrial life, the UN orders you to take out the invaders that are occuping the watery depths below in this side-scrolling shoot-’em-up. Several types of craft are at your disposal, as well as a wide variety of weapons, but as in life, everything costs money. This you only get by blasting the enemy to smithereens, whereupon at the end of every level is a shop where you can spend your hard-earned lucre. This factor adds a whole new dimension to the game as anything you die with, you’ll have to buy it again! Crowds of enemies, big end-of-level baddies, nasty scenery that’s difficult to navigate, along with some quality colourful sprites, all make for a worthwhile effort.
Here’s a little game which is a mixture of crosswords and hangman. You’re given a set of words which are hidden from view, arranged like a crossword. You take guesses at which letters feature in the words, and getting it right reveals a bit more of each word. Points are scored or deducted depending on whether your guesses are right or wrong. It’s really boring, though, and so easy. There’s nothing that could really be called graphics, and the sound effects are minimal.
(Electric Dreams, 1986)
Reviewed by Javier Sáez
Xarq allows you to ride a speedboat, armed to the teeth, into a high-tech complex. This means manoeuvring your boat inside narrow flooded trenches at the same time as dealing with cannons, mines and other gadgets. You’ll have also to destroy certain energy cells powering laser barriers in order to penetrate deeper into the complex. Xarq has small graphics, with very little detail. The sound effects are quite dull and there’s no music. Your boat’s behaviour is quite twitchy. This means it’s difficult to place your boat in the right place to shoot, and due to the lack of scrolling, going to the next screen will often make you run into a mine or another hazard. More playability and better scrolling would have made Xarq a decent little game, but the truth is that there are hundreds of better games to play.
I got this game a long time ago but I can’t remember the plot. You’re in a galaxy and have to visit planets to see if there are any computer bases by sending down one of your five shuttles, manoeuvring your way through the terrain, before attacking an onslaught of aliens. Unfortunately, this is incredibly difficult, if not impossible – the gaps you have to squeeze through are far too narrow. Also, can someone tell me what all that gibberish that occasionally appears on the screen is? The graphics are nice, and the revolving globe is astonishingly good, but that counts for little when there’s not much gameplay in there.
Reviewed by Richard Lamond
From its grassroots on the frozen moon of Io, the game of Xeno has come a long way. Most easily likened to Subbuteo with curling irons, Xeno is a futuristic sport for one or two players. You control the direction of your saucer using an arrow to indicate where on the screen you want to head, all the time trying to knock a ball into your opponent’s goal area. The game can be completely tailored to your own skill requirements including quarter lengths and time allowed between shots, and it makes for a game that can be as frenetic or tactical as you want. The graphics are monochrome but detailed enough, although one criticism is the confusion that can occur when you are knocked out of the ball playing area; it can be difficult to work out where you are and how to get back. The sound effects are uninspiring.
(Melbourne House, 1988)
Reviewed by Chris Lennard
Seminal vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up written by the genuises that are the Bitmap Brothers. Vanquish the Xenonites across several levels destroying their forces and fortifications using your morphing craft that can alter from a spaceship to a ground assault vehicle. Power-ups are also available should you destroy particular enemy structure or craft, which you can use to great effect. At the end of every stage you are faced with an intelligent boss whom you must outwit in order to defeat it. The classic theme tune is rendered beautifully and the graphics are very impressive.
(Micro Style, 1989)
Reviewed by CPC4eva
A conversion of Bally Midway’s coin-op game from 1987, this is a run-and-gun alien space shooter. The original arcade game split the screen into three sections for multi-player action, one for each of up to three people; however the CPC version has only two split screens, but you can choose to play as any of nine different characters. You wander around a space station shooting as many aliens as you can before your health or time runs out. The conversion to the CPC is decent, and I have to say the soundtrack is one of the best you will hear in an Amstrad CPC game. Nice and colourful graphics with nice animations, sprites and a decent game to play. There are lots of weapons and pick-ups and plenty of aliens to shoot and keep you playing for some time.
(US Gold, 1986)
Reviewed by John Beckett
The storyline runs thus – the Xevious are an ancient race of technologically advanced people who decided to leave the Earth around the time of the Ice Age. And now, millennia later, they’ve returned to reclaim their heritage. At least that’s the plan, but they reckoned without you and your trusty ‘solvalu’ (eh?) spacecraft to send them packing! Sounds good, doesn’t it? But you’ve played a thousand games like this before; you fly up the screen shooting enemy craft out of the sky and dropping bombs on ground-based attackers, until you meet the big mothership, destroy it, then go through it all again on the next level. It’s totally unoriginal, the graphics are blocky and the sound is minimal. However, it’s quite addictive and it’s by no means the worst game of its type.
The many faces of XOR lie in a maze, and you must collect them all in the fewest moves possible – but there are many puzzles to be solved along the way! You control two shields, Questor and Magus, and both of them have to work together. The puzzles consist of various objects – chickens, fish, dolls and bombs – that have to be moved in the correct way; one false move and you may be trapped or crushed! There are fifteen mazes to get through, and though you may well tear most of your hair out by the time you reach the third maze, the urge to try it again one more time is irresistible.
Venture into the Xybots’ lair and kill the master Xybot. The lair consists of mazes of corridors, and killing the Xybots requires tactics; if you run straight in with your guns blazing, you could leave yourself exposed to other Xybots coming at you from behind! Your energy depletes rather fast, though, so you’ll have to be quick – but at least you don’t have to kill every Xybot to go to the next level. The game is an obvious Spectrum port with little colour used, and the tune on the menu is terrible, but all of this doesn’t detract too much from what is still a good game, especially with two players.