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

Other Links

John Minson
Chris Bourne

Domark prove two's company when you're robot-killing.

It's a good thing that the names of sprites aren't crucial to your enjoyment of computer games. Xybots' protagonists answer to the unlikely monikers of Major Rock Hardy and Captain Ace Gunn. With handles like that they just had to grow up as heroes. And their heroic, not to say suicidal, mission is to clear an alien Hampton Court of deadly Xybots.

You get the picture? You run around the scrolling corridors of a maze, seen in split-screen perspective, massacring every metallic monster you encounter.

En route you pick up useful objects and you'll need them, because some of these "bots are a real pain in the bot". Luckily, you've also got a zapper to, er, zap 'em. That's Xybots-speak for that old favourite, the smart bomb, which temporarily paralyses the opposition.

It may all sound mindlessly familiar, but the zap and map elements are well balanced and produce a game with that special once-again factor. You've got to try again because you just know that next time...

Then there's the two-player option. Tackled solo, the subterranean city may lose its appeal fairly quickly. But dredge up a friend and start co-ordinating your efforts to deal with some of the nastier nasties, including the Master Xybot, and it gains a whole new depth.

Quite some thought's gone into the mazes, which allow you to develop basic strategies. And the different Xybots have their own, individual, attack patterns, giving the impression of an intelligent enemy.

Not that it's all co-operation between players. Sometimes there are healthy bonuses for the first player to take an elevator to the next maze, so there can be an undignified scramble for the lift. As it descends it stops off at the local hardware store where, depending on the coins you've collected, you can tool up with extra shields, fire power and the like. This adds another strategic level, and extra interest.

So far so good. Unfortunately, Xybots seems to suffer from one or two monstrosities lurking in its machine code. The first is common to all versions and is a question of control. The original arcade machine possessed two fire buttons and a dial for shooting, zapping and changing direction. Your everyday joystick has just four directions and fire.

Domark's compromise was probably the best available in the circumstances. Pulling back while firing works well for zapping, but a sideways movement with fire to turn can cause problems. In the heat of battle with three big red robots coming for you, you don't want to find yourself performing a nifty 90 degree spin. Even when you're used to the system you'll find yourself facing the wall from time to time.

The other problem concerns versions. While the ST Xybots is superb, the two 8 bit versions appear to be asking too much of the machines. Of these the Spectrum is the better, though necessarily monochromatic, while the Amstrad version is less good.

On the ST Xybots is a novel and entertaining blaster, particularly when played with a friend. Spectrum owners should be satisfied with their versions, but give the CPC version a try before you buy.

Reviewer: John Minson

Atari ST, £19.99dk, Out Now
Amiga, £19.99dk, Imminent
Spec 128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
C64/128, £9.99cs, £12.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 75/100
1 hour: 77/100
1 day: 77/100
1 week: 75/100
1 month: 60/100
1 year: 40/100

Can keep you engrossed for quite some time, especially in two-player mode.


Banner Text


Probably as good as you could expect from this 8 bit machine. Monochrome graphics don't detract from the action, which is pretty fast. But don't choose Kempston stick for player 2 if you want to play solo.


Disappointing graphics, though Domark say they are going to split the screen and use different palettes - but that won't help the fact that Rock and Ace seem to be walking downstairs as they advance..

Graphics: 6/10

Audio: 5/10

IQ Factor: 5/10

Fun Factor: 6/10

Ace Rating: 547/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 55/100

1 hour: 60/100

1 day: 70/100

1 week: 50/100

1 month: 47/100

1 year: 10/100


Fast and colourful action with just enough strategy to stop your mind OD-ing on mass destruction. But don't try to play the solo with your mouse plugged in - it won't work!

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 8/10

IQ Factor: 5/10

Fun Factor: 8/10

Ace Rating: 812/1000

Screenshot Text

Rock and Ace around the corridors of Xybot city.

On lower levels, shots harm your colleague and you'll need mapping gear to see where you're going.