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Xybots - The Atari Times


The future sucks yet again in another video game
by Darryl Brundage

February 11, 2008
The genre of the first person shooter goes back a lot longer than most people might think. Many will associate it's popularity being elevated as to when one of my all time favorites of the genre, Doom was released, but of course Castle Wolfenstein came out earlier than that, Doom just took it to a whole new level and made it a very popular game genre then. However, there was also MIDI Maze, and even before then some have surmised that one of the earliest of the bunch was Battlezone, which I'd have to agree.

And not that it's one of the earlier ones, but Xybots is definitely one of the few arcade releases set in the behind the person FPS viewpoint that I can think of.

Yes, this Atari classic follows one of up to two heroes who have touched down on a nightmare planet to rid it of evil robots. Geez, how many times has THIS scenario played out in video games? Because reprogramming everything to the point where the robots are as cuddly as Twiki from Buck Rogers and singing "kum bah yah" (or whatever that song is) would make a boring as hell video game, so...

In this incarnation of evil robots gone awry, you run around in mazes and destroy all that you can. The Xybots (whatever that means) start off as miniature flying saucer-type robots that can only cause damage if you run into them or you're too close when they blow up and you take damage that way (more on that later). Sometimes they carry keys or coins with them. (Nice that those are stuck on the outside of the ships like they're magnets, making it easy to pick up those objects once the ships are gunned down, rather than having to hunt through debris in case they were actually intelligent enough to actually keep that stuff inside their ships. These morons must be related to the stupid robots in Berzerk that would zap each other and run into walls. Reminds me, other Xybots can shoot each other too...)

Other Xybots include guards that fire back at you. Others will move idly back and forth, whereas others will mimic your movements while firing at you, making it difficult not to take damage in the process, and probably the worst of them all flies around in circles, making them difficult to destroy. It'd be nice if our hero had a giant can of Raid with him for the latter instead, but I guess that would make it difficult to carry around, along with his big gun that's about a fourth his entire size. Or it'd be fun if you could smack it against the wall with a giant shoe, leaving a big mess, but this game has no blood, so...

Going back to what I said earlier about collecting coins (nice hobby, heh), after each successful clearing of a level, you will be taken to a screen where you can exchange the coins for all kinds of nifty stuff. You can choose (if you can afford it) a slower energy loss, keys, have enemy shots repelled, a better shield, etc. Nice to know you're in some kind of a futuristic, twisted game show where you get money for clearing out robots, or whatever organization you're with consists of such cheap buttheads you have to help offset the costs of clearing planets of evil robots that you have to help pay for expenses. Great job!

As I also mentioned earlier, you have to contend with an energy level, as you only get one life for the whole game; run out of energy and it's game over. Energy is drained in time just by going through a level, but also when you run into a robot, it's explosion when destroyed, or you get shot by one, that also results in energy loss. However, sometimes those miniature saucer robots also carry around an energy module, so it's nice to know that when you're in trouble, it's ok to go into the light for once.

And you're going to need to do that, due to the game getting tougher by having more robots that move and/or shoot faster and more often, plus the game also gets cute by being sneaky and having weird things show up in the futuristic store that seem odd: why pay for a second shot or a wall mapper? Well, the walls on your onscreen display map, certain robots and the danger alert will all disappear (without warning!) if you don't suddenly start paying for them, along with being able to fire two shots at once that you used to be able to do (since that's downgraded to one if you don't buy the second shot). Not fair, Atari!

A bit more fair are the sound effects, but not by much; they're adequate and do their job, but there's nothing real outstanding about them. However there's some nice music at times to help balance them out (plus I take it the "intruder alert!" that you might hear is a nod to Berzerk). The graphics aren't much better either, they range from fair to good at best, in my opinion. However, the controls work really well, and are unique, since the game has a "twisty joystick", as Dan Loosen mentioned in his Lynx review of this game, since, at times, you're going to have to change directions in order to proceed through the mazes. Gameplay is also heightened by having a second person playing at the same time to help you clear out mazes. I had a friend of mine in high school named Shannon that I kept on bumping into at a Tilt at a nearby mall that we would always play this game, and then at school he'd say something about that game; what was it called? XYBOTS!

About the only bad thing I have to say about Xybots is that there is no noticeable difference in between the two exits; one's the regular exit, the other is a warp that takes you to a much later, more difficult level. If you forget which is which and hit the warp one by accident then you could be in big trouble. How impossible would it have been to put a big fat "W" in the center of the warp exit? Not very, I don't think!

In conclusion, all I can say is Xybots is it's a better, much more fun alternative to polite, peaceful robots that don't even attack.

(A huge robot walks in with an ominous red sensor beam for an eye). Klaatu! Klaatu Barada Nikto! (The visor closes and the eye disappears.)

(Thinks about it)

(Picks up laser gun)

Ahhhh, c'mere, Klaatu, lets have some fun...


(c) Atari

I'll get you a title screen soon.
This is basically the game. More shots soon.
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 65%
Sound & Music Score: 70%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: 95%

Final Score: 90%

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