by Visage: Barry Leitch, Mick Hanrahan, Martin Hooley, Leslie Long
Micro Style
Crash Issue 71, December 1989   (1989-11-16)   page(s) 68

Are you xenophobic, well if you fear anything alien (ie nine tenths of us in the CRASH office) then you are. In Xenophobe you (and a friend in two player mode) take the part of an exterminator with the task to battle hordes of aliens who've overrun Earth's space stations and moon bases.

Three extermination teams (each consisting of three members) are on call: simply choose your character and head for the first location. Upon arrival you see that the Earth boffins weren't joking, the place is overrun with the little (and not so little) horrors. There's only one thing for it... blast them. You start with a standard laser pistol, but as you travel through the rooms other weapons are to be found. Be careful: some of them may be powerful but very unstable and likely to stop working at the most awkward moments.

The aliens themselves come in several guises: Pods, Critters, Snotterpillars and Tentacles to name but a few, and all have a pathological hatred of humans. Though luckily the bases are fitted with self destruct mechanisms, triggered off when you enter, so don't worry if you fall to kill all of the aliens - you'll be pulled out before the base goes up (all you lose is a rather hefty bonus). But ensure you take the hardware the colonists left behind, it could come in handy in the continuing fight against the aliens.

Blasting maniacs are well catered for in Xenophobe: from the moment you enter the matter transporter beam to the destruction of the final alien nasty, your trigger finger is going to become rather sore. Sound on the +3 is good with a neat rendition of the arcade tune (also Included on an audio cassette in the packaging), and some apt blasting effects. If you aren't Xenophobic before you play this, you jolly well will be afterwards.

MARK ... 81%

'Xenophobe is great fun. Running around the planets, bursting all the nasty little aliens, collecting all sorts of bits and pieces and dodging the big bully nasties is totally addictive. The game has a Spy vs Spy feel to it with the split screen presentation, both players having their own hall, and each screen being connected by doors. The graphics in this are far in front of the Spy games though. All the characters which you can play are excellently defined, as are the aliens that inhabit the planets. Each room you enter has it's own colour of monochrome but this doesn't spoil the fun. Sound also is of a very good standard with a brill tune that plays throughout. I never actually played the arcade game, but if this conversion is anything to go by it must have been worth spending some cash on. Well done Micro Style.'
NICK ... 84%

Presentation: 83%
Graphics: 82%
Sound: 76%
Playability: 81%
Addictivity: 79%
Overall: 83%

Summary: An excellent Alien-esque blast-'em-up to give your trigger finger a good workout.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 48, December 1989   page(s) 66,67

MicroProse must be running out of things to simulate, having already churned out games based around every possible type of death dealing vehicle. Oh, with the exception of milkfloats that is. There's a notable gap in the range when it comes to milkfloats. Now it's turning its hand to coin-ops with the first release on its new 'Games For Adults (But With No Whey Hey Parts)' MicroStyle label.

Xenophobe, the coin-op, is a viewed-trom-the-side, exploration-based, multi-player blasterama which usually prises a few 50ps from me whenever we meet. And, with the nauseating sincerity of Miriam Stoppard, I can confirm that this is a pretty authentic conversion.

The plot's contrived rubbish. My copy's on its way to the Friends of the Earth Recycling Dept. So let's concentrate instead on the real nitty-gritty of the game which is to clean up space stations packed to the rivets with some aliens of the Xeno genus. Said clean up job can be done alone or with another player and the screens split in half to provide each of you with a view of the action.

Each level needs to be rid of Xenos in a set time, before they completely overrun the place, and there's a nice selection of hi-tech sci-fi weaponry for you to utilise. Once the Xeno count on the space station is zilcho you're beamed back to ship and given a lilt to the next level (of which there's a total of four).

You won't find scarier baddies than the ones in this game. They sap your health points so inventively too. Some cling to you, others spit and the worst of all zaps zillions of health points with his mesmerising version of the Paddington Bear Hard Stare. The skill with which they've been drawn extends to all the graphics which, although monochrome, are beautifully crisp and clear. Spooky soundtrack too.

Xenophobe's biggest problem is life expectancy. The attempted strategy elements (having a selection of different characters to control and ID cards and keys to access certain areas, for example) might eek a few extra hours out of it but, on the whole, gameplay's fairly shallow, with the same combination of crouch and fire tactics appearing to get you past most of the baddies. The original's addictiveness came from an accommodating nature which allowed simultaneous three player games. Only couples can play together on the Spectrum and annoyingly this slows the game down pretty drastically. It's definitely worth seeking out though, but if the arcade machine didn't give you excited palpitations then this won't either.

Life Expectancy: 68%
Instant Appeal: 73%
Graphics: 78%
Addictiveness: 77%
Overall: 76%

Summary: Fans of the coin-op will find this tasty, authentic conversion fills the gap. The enjoyment of everyone else will probably be short term.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 94, January 1990   page(s) 12

If it's Chrissy, it's coin-op conversions, right? You betcha, and Microprose aren't going to be outdone by the likes of anyone else, so have chipped in with this here offering called Xenophobe.

Xenophobe? Wassat? Fear of things alien like sulphur breathing, acid blooded, green scaled, bad tempered pentapeds from other worlds. Like 12 foot tall blobs from your worst nightmares. Like Sue Lawley.

Despite this loathing however, it is your mission - together with a compatriot if you so desire, to travel to strange new space stations, discover strange alien beings, then give 'em a strange smack or two where it hurts most. Get the idea? Originally this was a hoopy coin-op from Bally Midway, with a screen big enough for three players at once and a special joystick with two fire buttons on it, but those clever tinkers at Visage have cut it down to work in 48K and with a normal jobbie. But how does it play???

Well, compared to the original, not bad considering. They've had to cut things down a bit, of course - the main thing being the action cut down from a maximum of three players to two. But like the coin-op (and games like Spy vs Spy), you've each got independent screens, one of you the top half, the other the bottom.

Then, in glorious Monochromavision the action starts with you selecting a team member to play (one out of nine in fact) and being beamed onto a space station where the crew have been wiped out by ALIENS!!!!! You start off with a Phaser, of course, and can just blast away at the different aliens as you move from flip screen room to room, roaming around the base. There are six different types in all to watch out for, from the relatively harmless 'Pod' (which mutates into a 'Critter' unless dispatched with speed) to a real Allen lookalike, a 'Festor' which will hyptonise you, then lock its 15 sets of teeth around your throat.

But it's not all just blasting, there is an element of thought, as you collect items scattered throughout the spacecraft and use them when prompted. All this action is mediated by a clever control system of on screen (well under screen actually) prompts which you respond to by moving the joystick down or up.

While the aliens are giving you hell, you find that being hit decreases your health score, shown of the left of the status display. Problem is, some of them latch on to you and won't let go, draining you of energy constantly. Now you have to close your eyes, think of Daley Thompson and waggle the stick like mad in order to shake the baddie off.

There're extra weapons too, like bombs and laser pistols, thing is that is you get hit while using them (very likely) you drop them. And the more sophisticated and powerful the weapon, the more fragile it is.... And the more likely it is to break when you drop it. Ever tried getting an Alien off your throat with your bare hands, buddy? Lucky Robby the Robot is always at hand to lob a phaser on the floor when the worst happens.

So much for the features, but what do they add up to? Hmmmm, well for sure if you liked the original game, Xenophobe is an essential purchase for you, but to be honest, not that many people did.

The action does tend to become a little repetitive after a while and when you are playing the game in single player mode (even with different difficulty levels), here the enjoyment does get little bit thin after blowing away your 1056th room of alien beings.

Microprose have made a creditable job of converting what was only a middling coin-op title, and 'though they score 10 out of 10 for that, they start at a great disadvantage in the playability stakes compared to some of the sexier titles out on the streets right now.

Label: MicroStyle
Author: Visage
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Various
Reviewer: Timothy Noonan

Graphics: 79%
Sound: 70%
Playability: 74%
Lastability: 62%
Overall: 71%

Summary: Good conversion of low playability coin-op - probably only worth it if you liked the original.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 25, December 1989   page(s) 79

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99 Diskette: £14.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Amiga £24.99


Those of you who eat a dictionary for brekky will no doubt be aware that Xenophobe means 'One who has a deathly fear of anything alien'. Alien nasties have been sneaking up on us humans for years, watching us and planning their attack.

Now we have decided to destroy the bug-eyed horde and end the menace for ever. The aliens have been tracked to a series of deserted space stations and moon bases.

Three teams of crack exterminators are on the job, code-named Blue, Yellow and Red squads, they travel the cosmos and act as trouble shooters... ie anyone starts trouble, they shoot them. It's decided to send two members of the team into test the aliens' strength, so you - with or without a friend - must choose a character and go live up to your name.

At the first base the alien weirdos are everywhere. Initially armed with a phaser, better weapons can be picked up further into the maze of corridors and rooms... but although some weapons are more powerful than others, they aren't necessarily as reliable. The aliens come in a variety of guises, but don't spend too long shooting them because time is of the essence; the bases contain self-destruct devices which fry the aliens if you fail to kill them all. Your bacon is saved if the base does go, but Earth government won't be pleased and dock you a hefty points penalty.

The action is fast and frantic all the way, because the aliens are vicious little swine who stop at nothing to destroy you. And as they generally outnumber you at least ten to one, Xenophobe soon becomes a test of bravery and fast trigger fingers.

Overall: 80%

Summary: The sprites are monochromatic, but the characters stomp around with greater determination than in the Amiga game (although the aliens kill you with equal zeal). Graphical and (on the 128K) sonic detail are pretty impressive.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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