- Xenophobe (video game)
developer= Bally Midway
publisher= Bally Midway
Brian Colin& Howard Shere
modes= Up to 3 players simultaneously
Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari 800/XL/XE "(prototype)", Atari ST, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Lynx, ZX Spectrum, Nintendo Entertainment System
joystick, 3 buttons
cabinet= Upright, custom
cpu= 68000 (@ 7.7238 MHz)
sound= Sound CPU: 68000 (@ 8 MHz) DAC (@ 8 MHz)
display= Raster, 512 x 480 pixels (Horizontal), 64 colors
"Xenophobe" is a 1987
arcade gamepublished by Bally Midway. Starbases, moons, ships, and space cities are infested with aliens, and the players have to kill the aliens before each is completely overrun.
The Arcade Game can be played by up to 3 players, and the goal of each level is to defeat all the aliens before time runs out. Levels may contain more than one floor, and players use elevators (and sometimes holes in the floor) to move between floors to defeat all of the aliens. Players can also pick up more powerful weapons and other items to help in their eradication of the aliens.
The hostile aliens (known as "Xenos") come in different forms. There are eggs (similar to the eggs in "Alien"). If an egg hatches, it creates a "Critter" which can attach itself to the player and drain health, requiring the player to use a button to throw the Critter. If a Critter is not killed, it eventually matures into a "Roller" (a cross between a lizard, caterpillar, and armadillo). Rollers are one of the tougher enemies, as they can ball themselves up and roll around while impervious to the players' guns. The players have to wait for a Roller to unball before it can be shot, or they can use a grenade to destroy it while still a ball. Rollers sometimes grow into the "Warrior" Xeno form, which attacks by leaping and requires multiple hits to kill from most weapons. Warriors also spit acid across rooms (and sometimes into adjacent rooms) which further damages players. One of the more insidious attacks in a Warrior's arsenal is its ability to disarm a player. Simply walking past a Warrior can cause the player's gun to drop to the floor (destroying it if still in a doorway). Other Xenos include Tentacles that randomly appear from the deck or from overhead, and trap or strangle the player respectively, requiring the player to use a knife or (barring that) struggle to break free from the Tentacle. The arguably toughest enemy is a Xeno "Queen" which appears either at doors or behind certain backgrounds and throws proto-eggs at the players. This form also requires multiple hits to kill, and visibly grimaces in pain when hit. However, moving toward the Queen (even just to aim in her direction) allows it to shoot hypnotic eye beams which trap a player and drain his health until he breaks free by pushing a button. If the proto-egg lands on a screen with a player, it grows into an egg, and eventually hatches into a critter as usual.
This game was unusual in that it split the single monitor into three separate horizontal sections, one for each player. This allowed the players to operate cooperatively, but also allowed the separate players to wander around freely, a feature not found on most cooperative multiplayer games. With most games that allowed multiple players at once, all players were bound by the edges of the screen (that is, all the players had to be in the same general area on the screen, so it could contain them all). Because the game featured such high resolution for its time, the split screen didn't detract from the game's graphic appeal.
There are nine characters to choose from in Xenophobe, three for each joystick. The leftmost controller (red) allows Mr. M.Brace, Dr. Kwack, and Col. Poupon. The middle controller (yellow) offers Mr. Fogg, Col F. Truth, and Dr. Udderbay. The right controller (blue) offers Mr. Eeez, Dr. Zordiz, and Col. Schickn. Humans and aliens alike make up the playable characters -- for instance, Dr. Kwack has a duck's head. Players were also color-coded. For instance, the left player's choices wore red shirts, middle player's yellow, and right player's blue.
The weapons a player collects are fairly diverse. Without weapons, a player is still able to punch. This is the weakest attack in the game, and the shortest ranged attack, as well. The phazer is the starting weapon, and does about as much damage as a punch, but at a slightly longer range. The laser pistol is the next most damaging, and also has the longest range of all the guns, being able to nearly shoot across an entire room. The next most damaging weapon is the rifle. Its range is not much better than the phazer, but it is far more damaging. It can also be used to "sweep" the floor in front of a player as he walks, firing down. The previous weapons are inconsistent at this. Finally, the ultimate weapon (as far as damage) is the gas gun. Its range is that of a punch, but it can kill Warriors in one shot, and Queens in 2-3 shots. Grenades are also found in the game, either singly, in batches of 3, or from a grenade machine that a player has to fix with tools found elsewhere in the map. To throw a grenade, the player needs to crouch. Great care has to be taken with the grenades, as they bounce off walls and doors and can hit the player who threw it, or even other players. Grenades can also be thrown through an open door into an adjacent room, but the grenade only explodes if another player is in that room. Otherwise, the next person to enter the room finds a grenade there (no matter how many had been thrown in). None of the guns can hurt other players, but punching can, and makes the punched player fall down, and drop the gun he was carrying, which the attacker is then free to pick up. Whenever a player's gun is lost and destroyed (such as by dropping it in a doorway), a small robot wheels into his room and dispenses a random gun for him to use.
As players go through the various maps (Rocket ship, Moon Base, Space City, etc.), they encounter various items to be picked up. Some (human skulls, lab vials, fire extinguishers, etc.) are only for bonus points at the end of the board. Others (grenades, knives, food) are immediately useful to the players (food replenishes the players' health). Still other items (disks, tools, codes, etc.) are useful in the right room. For example, the tools fix the always-malfunctioning grenade dispenser, the disk allows the player with it to use a teleportation device, and the code enables a player to set a self-destruct sequence to destroy a base instead of letting the xenos take it over. In this case, the players receive a reduced reward compared with a victory, but if the xenos take over, there is no reward. Items collected are counted, and bonus points awarded for each collected. Grenades carry over from level to level.
Each credit gives the player a certain amount of health, which counts down even without combat. Food and some rooms replenish a player's health. The game cycles through levels, increasing the difficulty each cycle, until all players died and no one continued. It is entirely possible to do well enough to continue playing without adding more credits.
Like many games of this era, "Xenophobe" was ported to many home systems. Beginning in
1988, it was ported to the Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Lynx, Amstrad CPCand the Nintendo Entertainment System. (An Atari 800/XL/XE conversion exists in prototype form [http://www.atarimania.com/detail_soft.php?MENU=8&VERSION_ID=5876] ).
Atari ported Xenophobe over to its systems while Sunsoft ported it to the NES. The Commodore 64 port was done by Microplay. In 2004 Xenophobe was included in Midway's "Arcade Treasures 2" for the PS2,
Xboxand Nintendo Gamecube.
References and footnotes
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.