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Activision Inc
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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89
Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

The future is going to be a pretty grim place if we believe the storylines of many computer games.

Xcel, from Mastertronic is a particularly doomladen example.

In the future, we are told, machines come to rule over people. It's pretty bad already, and we've only been going for a couple of minutes!

Anyway, after watching millions of your fellow human beings downtrodden by the evil and very tyrannical machines, you decide that enough is enough and you... (complete the sentence in no more than seven words)

Yeh. It's THAT storyline again. Deary me.

Right. Well, off you set in your stolen space-craft finger on the Fire button, heart in your mouth.

Your mission is to destroy everything mechanical. What ensues, therefore, is a shoot-em-up of moderately large proportions, guiding your craft through strange landscapes, ducking and weaving as if there's no tomorrow.

As soon as this stage is complete, you'll be confronted by swirling aliens who are very scary indeed. These guys swoop around and bomb with amazing ferocity. If you can work out a safe place to stay, you'll be OK.

Should you survive this level, it's back to a different maze of strange green things. This time, there are more dead-ends, and you'll have to take your chances with passages that look the most safe.

Despite the simplicity of the gameplay, and the fact that it's been done a million times before, Xcel is actually quite entertaining to play.

I'm not quite sure why, but the smoothness of the ship and the uncluttered screen and the top-bottom scrolling make the game 'feel' nice.

A large number of inventive touches (indicating that space left could have been used to improve gameplay) add to the general good feeling.

Xcel is neat. It scores zero on originality, but major points for good value for its 'nice' feel in play.

Label: Mastertronic
Price: £1.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

****

It's got most of the things that you d expect from a budget £2 shoot-em-up, and quite a bit more. Check it out.

4/5