Faced with the unenviable prospect of a Sunday afternoon sitting in front of the TV, you decide to take to the space waves and blast a few alien bad boys into oblivion.
As you venture through a vertically-scrolling corridor, waves of attacking alien craft appear wielding deadly laser blasters.
So it's 'do as you would be done by' as you try to take out these entities with a series of forward-firing weapons. Equipped at first with just a low-level gun, you can enhance your arsenal by destroying certain alien craft; this reveals weapons that can either be collected or themselves destroyed to take you on to a more powerful system.
At the end of each corridor section is a large ominous craft: accurate fire knocks out vital components, but the ship is then transformed into an even more formidable opponent ready for blasting. A measly three lives, fast manoeuvring and expert fighting are the only things that can get you home tonight...
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: excellent, colourful and detailed with smooth scrolling
Options: two-player mode, definable keys
'Xecutor's colourful graphics make it an attractive game to play, but it's a bit annoying to 'crash' on touching the corner of a curved piece of scenery. The scrolling is smooth, and in two-player mode the gameplay is a lot more fun and doesn't slow down; otherwise, Xecutor is just a standard shoot-'em-up with neat graphics.'
MIKE … 80%
'OK, so it's Zynaps turned through 90 degrees... but at least it's a credible clone with a few attractive variations. For instance, the two-player option is a clever addition in which you cannot only help but also hinder the other player, and this adds a new dimension to the Nemesis concept. The pickup technique also requires some skill. Forget the monochromatic Slap Fight and Moonstrike - what you've got here is a playable shoot-'em-up with a superb splattering of colour that doesn't spoil the game one iota. Once you've completed Zynaps turn your hand to Xecutor, and you'll find the same appeal with more challenge.'
PAUL … 87%
'Xecutor is one of the best shoot-'em-ups I've seen in ages. It's got great graphics with brilliant scrolling colour scenery and detailed superbaddies. Some of the add-on weapons are very original - the split firing and the pod are really devastating. Xecutor's only drawback is that it's very difficult, difficult to the point of being infuriating after an hour or so stuck on the first level!'
BEN … 86%
When it comes right down to it, there'll always be a market for a good nippy shoot 'em up. If you can make one with a two player option, so that two players can play at the same time, then you're going to laugh all the way to the bank. In that case, Ace, a new arcade label from The Edge, is going to be spending a lot of time chortling up the high street. Xecutor, its first game, is a one or two player scrolling shoot 'em up, with a brainsquishing variety of weapons and death-dealing baddies to choose from.
The major drawback of shoot 'em ups these days is they tend to be a bit on the easy-peasy side. Oh sure, there's plenty of thrills, spills and about eight billion baddies to shoot, but as you've usually got unlimited firepower, and all the time in the world, you just spray the baddies with bullets and hope for the best. That's the trend, so where does Xecutor's trousers hang? Well, it's nice to see that somebody's writing hard games (and don't say oo-er). Xecutor is just that.
You, and a buddy in a twin ship, if you play two player, are flying up through a vertically scrolling landscape. Coming down towards you are a handful of heavily armed space bozos in their custom-built ships. Okay? Now what makes this different is that there's only a few aliens shooting at you, and you've only got a smallish cannon to hit 'em with, so you've got to be economical with your shots, and accurate if you want to kill any of them. So that's quite hard to start with, but as you progress through the game, you can pick up new weapons and shields, which make it slightly easier to hit things. So you have to use all your arcade skills if you want to stay in the game.
Having sweated your way through each wave of fiendishly weaving death-dribblers, you're faced with a massive ship about six times as big as your own! Having blasted that to golden shred, you would expect to be let through into the next level, right? Wrong! The ship compacts and starts blasting at you and you've got to fight it before you can get through. Phew!
I must say that this is the hardest shoot 'em up I've seen for a while, and as such is great value for money. If you like torturing yourself with tough games, then shell out (peeoww! zip! ka-boom!) for Xecutor.
Want to know one sign of a really brilliant game? The reviewer has to be dragged away from it to write the review.
And Xecutor is one such magnetic game.
It's a shoot-'em up from Ace, a new label which is basically The Edge doing arcade games.
Xecutor is also about the only thing that is going to give Zynaps any sort of competition.
There is no plot worth discussing in the game. It's about firing fast and dodging faster, about precision control of your space fighter and instant reflexes. That's the basic requirements of any arcade game but, like Zynaps before it, Xecutor is also a blinding technical achievement. It looks great and plays even better.
Comparisons with Zynaps are inevitable though unfair in some respects since Xecutor has plenty of features which are uniquely its own.
It scrolls from top to bottom - like Lightforce - and features a variant on what is rapidly becoming this season's big trend - namely firepower bonuses. This is where your ship begins the game armed with only a rickety old laser which splutters fairly uselessly at the bad guys, but where collecting bonus points can win you more serious weaponry.
In Xecutor you can graduate from intermittent laser beam to double speed to double barrel to torpedoes to spray-fire, 360' blasts and so on.
You can get to be pretty mean.
To begin with the aliens sweep moderately slowly across the screen - the problem is not so much avoiding them or the bullets they occasionally drop, but actually killing them all.
It is only by wiping out a complete wave of aliens that you get a bonus symbol and this is the only way you have of surviving later waves Basically if you don't wipe out all the first wave of aliens you might as well just forget it...
The bonus system works in an interesting way. If the bonus star comes up on screen you can either collect it - by flying over it - or shoot it.
Collecting it gives you the current level of firepower - as indicated by an icon on the right-hand side of the screen - and sets the icon back to zero.
On the other hand you can simply shoot the bonus star - this doesn't change your firepower but instead advances the weapon select icon. Thus in Xecutor you have to constantly decide whether to take the weapons on offer or to take a chance on getting something more dangerous the next time you clear a wave.
One thing is certain, if you want to acquire meaningful points in this game you are going to need, at the very least, photon torpedoes because at the end of the level you get The Big Alien.
The Big Alien which reappears in many guises throughout the game spits out bullets and needs to be hit dozens of times before it turns into a fighter and chases you around the screen. H you manage to blast it then, and only then, do you get to Stage 2. The destruction of the big alien is pretty spectacular. Bits of metal come spinning off at all directions as it disintegrates only to reform as a fighter Fabulous stuff.
Graphically Xecutor is more than you could hope for. Large coloured sprites, smooth scrolling, inventive details, the lot. Whatever happened to attribute clash? Xecutor has never heard of it.
If the quality of Spectrum software gets any higher people will start trading in their STs!
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Re-released incredibly quickly after its full-price launch, Xecutor was described in its original SU review as, "A blinding technical achievement... looks good and plays even better." Although basically it's a straightforward vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up, it has a couple of features which make it stand out from the crowd. For start there's a two-player simultaneous option. As the wonderfully-detailed backgrounds scroll past you, you just zap the waves of enemy fighters, and knock out laser bases. These leave behind weapons pods which you can pick up to add multiple lasers, smart bombs and shields to your arsenal. In two-player mode, you can either play co-operatively or competitively, destroying the weapons you don't need so your partner can't pick them up.
At the end of each level you get a lovely multi-weapon mothership to destroy, and on later levels dodging through the ironmongery becomes as challenging as seeing off the fighters. Excellent buy.
Label: Micro Selection
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Have a blast on The Edge.
Another vertically scrolling shoot-em-up? Another load of blasting, collecting weapons, and blasting some more? Well, yes - but don't write Xecutor off immediately.
It's colourful for one thing, in a field which is (on the Spectrum at any rate) mostly drab or just plain monochrome. It's also got a tremendous combo option that has both players on screen at once, competing (unwise) or cooperating (much better).
The object of the game is to blast the aliens, without getting blasted yourself or crashing into the scenery. Attacking nasties descend in waves, four at a time, firing vertically down at you while defensive gun emplacements cling to the scenery and fire horizontally. Destroy an emplacement or a wave of bad guys, and a customising token appears in the debris.
When a token appears you have a choice - shoot it, or pick it up. Shooting tokens stores them away to earn you bigger, more impressive features while picking one up cashes in any you've stored and adds the appropriate feature to your ship. Increased speed, withering firepower and a handy protective shield can all be yours.
So far so good, but your initial firepower and speed are very puny indeed and this makes the game rather tough to get into. Worse still, the gameplay has senseless flaws in it: in particular, if you lose a life your craft may well reappear in an instantly lethal position. This can cut games extremely short and could easily have been avoided.
Not tremendous stuff then for a single player, but switching to two-player mode transforms the game. You can play a combo game competitively, but with the aforementioned problems you wont get too far that way. Cooperate instead, and you'll soon get the firepower to really trash those aliens - and have a lot of fun along the way.
Reviewer: Andy Wilton
C64/128, £8.99cs, £12.99dk, December
Spectrum, £7.99cs, Reviewed
Predicted Interest Curve
1 min: 77/10
1 hour: 80/10
1 day: 77/10
1 week: 60/10
1 month: 40/10
1 year: 20/10
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