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Melbourne House
1988
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

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50,51
David Wilson
Chris Bourne

Coo! Xenon. This of course is a game about that spanky Richard Branson nightclub in London's glitzy West End, where we had the YS Xmas party. (No it's not idiot. It's Xenon the Melbourne House game, and unlike Xenon the Xmas party, it's a goodie! Now get on with it! Ed)

Okay then Xenons a storming shoot 'em up, which involves you moving up a vertically rolling scrolling hi-tech landscape, blasting ground defences and aliens until you meet up with the inevitable Big Meanie. But Xenon's not your normal run of the mill shoot 'em up. Oh no missis, 'cos you can change your vehicle mode from jet fighter to armoured tank thing, the former being the safest and most manoeuverable means of transport, but the latter being the necessary mode for destroying batches of wibbly aliens. Also you get the special treat of taking on TWO big meanies per level! and they are well hard! (Ooer!) This is a dangerous chore, so why do it? I hear you cry. Well if you wipe out a whole caboodle of fat ladybird lookalikes for example, an icon appears, and if you don't, then, er, it doesn't. One icon boosts your energy, others alter your firepower. You can also get a brillo bubble, instead of an icon, on some screens, which will follow you about and fire simultaneously.

Xenon is a bit spooky in some ways, in that I actually got the impression that it became easier the further I got! I mean it s a lot easier to survive if your flying machine has super spanky fire power and the aforementioned brillo bubble, which you can put into use against the meanie! So persevere on the first levels... they are possible to get through even when you're in that crap tank thingy! Oh!... and while I'm having a moan, it is a little annoying that when you've finished the level, you take on the meanie with depleted energy, and if you get killed you have to go all the way back to the start! Ho-hum!

Still this having been said, Xenon is a reet gradely (as they say up North) space shoot 'em up and a well tasty conversion that's worth the eight squidlies that those nice people at Melbourne House want you to shell out for it. It's addictive and pitched at a nice level of difficulty to keep you struggling. It boasts smooth graphics and nice sound especially on the 128K format It's a shame about the single colour screens, but with all the other excitement crammed into this little number, it's forgivable.

If this type of game is your space thermos of Rosie Lee then strap yourself to your Spectrum don your crash helmet, and prepare to blast your way through the alien hordes!!

A very good conversion which, as space shoot 'em ups go, is a bit of a rip snorter! A mite tricky, but well playable and addictive to boot!

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Alien Tie Fighters

Alien Tie-Fighters have that annoying habit of zooming up behind you, so don't stay too near the bottom of the screen! Wiping out the first batch of these on sector two gives you an S icon which gives simultaneous sideways shooting - ever so handy for the mass of gun turrets lining this sector!

Big Meanie

Bleareaaaarrrghgh!!!! it's one of those howwid big meanies. This bog job requires excessive exercise of the trigger finger. It fires in batches, so when you see what looks like a string of cod's roe coming towards you, hoof it! Also, beware of being squashed when this beastie moves down the centre to the bottom of the screen!

Ladybirds

Wibble, wibble, wibble... Here comes one of those crap alien ladybird things (CALTs). You can only shoot these in tank mode, and though they don't do much, they do fire at you and when there's a bunch they can cause serious damage! Wipe out a whole group and they'll present you with an energy boosting icon! After facing the first big meanie you'll find two individual CALT's on either side of the screen. Kill both of these - by changing from tank to kill the first, plane to fly over the central reservation, and back to tank for the second - and you get your first brillo bubble!

Bubble

Ooooooooh! No missus, don;t shoot this up 'cos it's your bubble chum. He effectively doubles your firepower, but beware he's lazy! If you stay at the bottom of the screen, he'll hide below you. Best idea is to zig-zag left and right, firing all the time.