LYNX Retroactive: Xenophobe

From: Robert Jung (ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 04/06/92-12:51:08 AM Z

From: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Subject: LYNX Retroactive: Xenophobe
Date: Mon Apr  6 00:51:08 1992

  Another in a series of Rob's Retroactive Lynx Reviews.

1-4 players, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Stereo? Yes

    What is it about video games and aliens that always end up with the former
focused on destroying the latter? It's either because a first-contact game
about diplomacy would be too boring, or game designers like to see things go
bang. XENOPHOBE is no exception; in this adaptation of the Bally arcade game,
you (and up to three other players) are assigned the duty of eliminating alien
Xenos who have infested 23 space stations and bases. The similarities to a
series of science-fiction thriller movies are not coincidental.

    You start off with a pool of nine characters; a single-player game has
four lives, but a multiplayer game lasts as long as characters remain. Each
player starts with a simple pistol, though more powerful guns and bombs are
available. You must explore each station, eliminating all of the Xenos you
find, while grabbing equipment and objects for extra health and bonuses. A
character loses health from assorted attacks and from accidents, and you lose
a life when it's all gone. A level ends when the base is completely overrun
with Xenos, when you activate the self-destruct, or when all aliens have been

    XENOPHOBE has the right mix of static and unpredictable elements that are
needed to make a good action game. While the layout and contents of each level
are predictable, the specific locations are not, requiring you to hunt for the
items you need. The game is difficult without being overwhelming; though the
Xeno's numbers increase from level to level, a fair amount of caution will
help players stay alive. Both the Xenos and the station layouts add to the
freshness of the game; each type of Xeno has different attacks and weaknesses,
while the stations use shafts, labs, multiple stories, and fires to add an
extra element of challenge. Other diversions include equipment to repair and
security systems to disarm. Since the main objective of each level is to
destroy Xenos, the game can become repetitive, but there is enough variety to
offset this for most players.

    There are a few additions in the Lynx version of XENOPHOBE that were not
in the arcade, all of which add to the fun. New types of equipment expand the
strategy, such as the jetpacks which allow you to fly around, safe from many
attacks. The Lynx's controls are put to good use, making controlling your
player much easier than with the original's three-button joystick. Multiplayer
games are especially enjoyable: aside from just the cooperative nature of the
game, a player can also choose to play a Xeno and hunt his friends in
disguise. However, multiplayer games do tend to slow down a bit in the higher

    As with the arcade game, XENOPHOBE on the Lynx takes the terror out of an
alien hunt through its graphics. The dark nature of the title is sharply
defused with bright colors everywhere, whether it's in the layout of the
station rooms or the non-threatening greens and reds of the Xenos themselves.
Your cast of beings, with punny names like U2 R B52 and Dr. Zorderz, are
very distinctive, and animation is used heavily through the game.

    Sounds are also done well with a wide variety of blasts, klaxons, and 
other effects. There is almost no music per se, though a low rythmic backbeat
plays through much of the game. The noises are also highly functional, often
acting as a hint of what awaits you in adjacent rooms; this is especially
noticeable when using stereo headphones on the newer Lynx II units.

    With its expanded gameplay and easy-to-use controls, Lynx XENOPHOBE is
arguably more fun than its arcade inspiration. Sound and graphics are more
than acceptable, and the multiplayer cooperative possibilities are welcome.
While some people may find the game a little repetitious, as a whole this
title is challenging, intriguing, and worth the money.

                GAMEPLAY:        8.5
                GRAPHICS:        8
                SOUND:           9
                OVERALL:         8.5

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.


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