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Domark Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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David McCandless
Chris Bourne

Xybots is my favourite arcade game, no iffing or butting about it - I love it. I have hazy childhood memories of pumping many a ten-pence into that machine. So you could imagine my camp delight when the Spec version of Xybots thunked through my letterbox. Rapturous joy!

And what's so special about Xybots? I dunno exactly, it's just one of those unpretentious, out and out, no strings shoot 'em ups that you can't help but dribble over.

You play the brawn-no-brains brothers with the unlikely (and probably quite embarassing) names of Major Rock Hardy and Captain Ace Gunn. Together they're pitted against the legions of rebelling robots and anarchic androids who are striving to take over the world from their bast underground base.

Equipped with the skimpiest of weaponry, you (and a pal, if in dual player mode) are teleported into the maze-like complexes, populated (cue alliteration) by marauding, mechanical morons, cunning, computerised cyborgs, er, roving robots and er, devious droids, fresh from the "rather plasma bolt you than give you time of day" finishing school in Switzerland.

The bottom of the screen is in two sections, providing a 3D view of the maze for each player, while a panel above the playing area provides a plan-view of the current level. The good thing with this system is that each player can go their separate way without hassling each other. some robots home in on you, some can only be shot from above, while others hang in the background running fireballs into the foreground. You scurry about, trading laser bolts, occasionally summoning enough courage to make a charge down the corridor.

Your energy is constantly draining away, and contact with enemy fireballs bites huge chunks off it. Luckily, extra energy pods and coins lie around the corridors. The coins can be collected and traded for extra supplies at the end of the level. These include things like better shields, enemy nappers, extra shots, zap power and slow energy drains. Occasionally, the big cheese himself, Mr Master Xybot, makes an appearance, and must be defeated before you can advance to the next level.

Xybots' graphics are quite faithful to the arcade, move well and are very detailed. Colour is a bit of a taboo subject where arcade-to-Spec conversions are concerned, but the monochrome in this game is fine. Gameplay is medium-fast but unrelenting, and the multiload quick. But the system or turning around corners (the fire button and direction) is a bit of a pain in the thick of a firefight - you can often end up turning through 90' without wanting to. But that's life. The two-player feature adds to the addictiveness, and I reckon Xybots is as good a conversion as anyone could expect.

As good a conversion as anyone could hope for. A good laff in two player mode.


Screenshot Text

Here I am, outside this clandestine little portal (secret door to you). As well as coins and stuff, keys also litter the hallways. They are used to open doors such as these which lead to big bonuses and entrances to lower levels.

I'm close to popping my cork at this point. This monster is indestructible until it opens its shield to fire. Only by pounding it with a laser-bolt at that moment can I ever dream of destroying it.

Now this robot is one mean mother. 16 feet of pure mechanical moronity - it takes about six shots to wound, and about 12 to vaporise.