Thursday 26 November 2015

Xybots (Atari Lynx review)

Developer: Atari Games
Publisher: Atari Games
Released: 1991

Xybots is a 3D maze-shooter that was originally released in the Arcades before being ported to numerous home computers.

You control a Federation Warrior and your mission is to reclaim a space station that's been taken over by Xybots. The A button fires your gun while B turns 90° and the objective in each level is to find the exit while shooting enemies. Your energy metre constantly depletes and once it's empty the game ends. Orbs are scattered around though to replenish it and you'll also find Keys that open Warp Exits so you can quickly reach higher levels. The game reminds me of Gauntlet (1985, Arcades) as you wander around destroying enemies, finding items and keeping an eye on your energy metre while hunting for the exit. Where Xybots differs though is that you can collect money to spend at the end of each level; items include Monster Mapper (shows all enemies on a map) and a Second Shot (fire two shots at once). The mazes start off simple but eventually expand and you'll need to rely on your map to guide you quickly through the level without losing too much energy. This constant rush creates a high sense of anxiety and it's as much about survival as it is shooting everything that moves. A great deal of strategy is involved and at first the number of options available can be overwhelming. However, only purchasing the Slow Energy Loss and Second Shot power-ups will keep you alive for a long while, especially if you use the map to collect Orbs. The shooting action is responsive, accurate and tons of fun; likewise, the level design is excellent and navigating each maze is addictive with lots of hidden areas if you're brave enough to explore. The scrolling, animation and sprite scaling is fantastic and really shows off the power of the Lynx. There are a few boss battles but they're repetitive and a bit of a let-down.

Xybots is a very unique game and it does a great job of utilising the handheld's strengths while creating a highly playable experience. Unlike some other titles on the Lynx (namely Batman Returns) it has solid gameplay to back up its flashy visuals and there's also tons of depth to keep you coming back for more.

Random trivia: Ports of Xybots were also planned for the NES and Sega Mega Drive / Genesis but were ultimately cancelled.

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