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1986
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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30
Chris Bourne

The planet Xarqon consists entirely of seas and oceans with no natural land masses at all. Many years ago the United Planets Co-operative set up a project known as the Sell Build Base. The object of this project was to build artificial land masses in the oceans of Xarqon in order to make the planet a profitable acquisition.

However, after thirty years of successful operation the land mass called Xarq has developed a serious fault. Why this has happened, no-one knows, but it has switched itself into automatic Cleansing Mode. Power in the Central Reactor is gradually being built up. As the levels get ominously high, the authorities realise the energy is being stored up in preparation for Planet Cleansing during which the whole of the surface of Xarqon will be burnt to a crisp and generally scoured to the core.

Naturally, the United Planets Co-operative is getting a bit panicky about this impending disaster, as over thirty years of construction and research hangs in the balance. If Xarq is successful in its spring cleaning campaign, the whole project will have to be started from scratch if there is any planet left to play with. You have been selected to stop Xarq destroying itself. Armed with an impressive array of weapons you begin to journey towards Xarq on a Nik Nik Hi-Speed Hydraboat...

The object of your mission is not an easy one. You must penetrate the Xarq complex so that you can actually drive your Hydraboat inside. This is possible only by accurate blasting of the lock gates, which results in the flooding of the Zimmerman Trenches located around the Central Reactor and allows you to use your Hydraboat. Once the trenches have been flooded you can begin to plan how you are going to destroy the reactor and stop the destruction of the planet.

Xarq is fully committed to the Cleansing Mode and is a bit miffed that someone is trying to thwart its efforts. All Security Defence systems have been fully operated, and Xarq itself does all it can to thwart your mission., Your Hydraboat has been equipped with a simple but effective laser which is ideal for blasting some of the smaller problems in the game, but for some of the more persistent nastier you may need to use your guided missiles or the mortars.

Depth charges have been supplied to help fend off marauding submarines which lurk in the murky depths waiting to attack from below. Submarines can be located by their distinctive bleeps on the sonar scanner.

A chart at the bottom of the screen keeps track of your status: damage to the hull, engines and protective shields is recorded on bar readouts, and the stock of weapons and fuel in the Hydraboat is also shown. The water depth bar is also handy. Naturally, your mission fails if status levels get too low.

The Hydraboat is capable of reaching great speeds and has been designed to be highly manoeuvrable. With one key you can select the direction in which you want to travel; then, by using the acceleration or deceleration key the desired speed can be achieved. Beacons are dotted around Xarq and can be recognised by their colour: blue and white beacons are pumping stations; green and black beacons are laser field generators while purple and black beacons reveal power fields, capable of generating currents of a million Tesla.

CRITICISM

'What a daft name for a game! The game itself isn't any more sensible. The first thing that entered my head when I saw it was Panzadrome. Playing doesn't disperse the Idea, either. I reckon this game is an aquatic, overpriced rip off of another enjoyable game. I can't say I like this much at all. The graphics are pretty awful (if I remember rightly, that was Panzadrome's main drawback), but the game isn't playable, and therefore, unaddictive. Not one I'd recommend, not even to big fans of the game that it is an expensive and poor copy of.'

'After reading the inlay for this game I was enthralled by the plot seemed - on loading, however, my hopes were shattered. Xarq looks a little like RAMJAM's Panzadrome but it plays much faster and is a lot more difficult to get into. The graphics are small but well detailed and the characters race around the screen very fast without jerking or flickering. The sound is fair: there is no tune but there are some reasonable spot effects during the game. The thing that I really don't like about XARQ is that you have to play it very fast in order to dodge any missiles that maybe on your tail. This makes the game very unplayable and hard to follow'

'I immediately thought of Panzadrome when I saw Xarq, but such thoughts disappeared once I started playing. The graphics are very detailed and colour is used to its full effect in a mainly monochromatic play area. The explosions that take place when you're hit are very life-like and extremely well animated with accompanying sound effects. I found Xarq had a nice exterior but was far too hard to play - which made me think I was missing out on a good game. Only graphically a Panzadrome rip-off, but the rest of it is very simple.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q accelerate, A decelerate, Z rotate left, X rotate right, C fire, P pause
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: too responsive!
Use of colour, adequate
Graphics: small and detailed
Sound: simplistic
Skill levels: one
Screens: lots, according to ELECTRIC DREAMS!
General Rating: A supercharged Panzadrome that's a bit too fast to be playable.

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Screenshot Text

Another view of the interface between the rogue landmass and the water planet surface of Xarqon.

Zooming along beside the land mass - can you stop the loony complex from destroying itself?