by Robert Spahl, Thomas Gittelbauer, David John Rowe
Firebird Software Ltd
Crash Issue 51, Apr 1988   page(s) 102

Producer: Firebird
Retail Price: £2.99
Author: R Spahl and T Gittelbauer

The salvation of the world is at stake. No time for preliminary explanations; just strap on a helmet, climb into a flying suit and embark on a bombing run over enemy territory.

The display gives an aerial view of the player's spacecraft flying over the vertically scrolling landscape of land and sea. Attacking alien vessels move in from the top of the screen, and ground bases fire from below. The player's ship is equipped with laser fire to combat airborne enemies and bombs to destroy ground bases. A target constantly superimposed on the screen indicates where the bombs fall.

A colourful panel to the left of the action informs the pilot of his score and the number of lives left. Outstanding performance is rewarded by an extra life every 10,000 points.


Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: as with most games of this genre the monochromatic backgrounds make the bullets hard to distinguish
Sound: repetitive tune
Options: definable keys

Shoot 'em ups hit the software shelves with monotonous regularity every month and Xarax doesn't stand out from the crowd: it's just a competent, rather unexceptional game. Bombing and blasting is moderately exciting at first, growing challenging as the gameplay progresses and finally becoming a tedious and repetitive chore. This is aggravated by the fact that enemy fire is difficult to see. If you want to while away an afternoon with some fairly conventional shooting then Xarax should fit the bill.

I remember when it was a pleasure to play a Firebird game because they were all original and fresh; Xarax is merely a mixture of old ideas. The tune doesn't flow properly and the layout and idea have been stolen from Mirrorsoft's Moonstrike. Despite this, the game is neatly set out and the graphics are reasonably clear. Colour is used well on the borders but is a bit lacking in the game itself, which eventually becomes just a matter of remembering the attack waves.

Presentation: 54%
Graphics: 54%
Playability: 52%
Addictive Qualities: 49%
Overall: 52%

Summary: General Rating: In a market full of monochrome vertically scrolling shoot 'em ups, Xarax is easily forgotten.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 30, Jun 1988   page(s) 65


What we got? Loadsacheapies! And we got Tony Worrall to review 'em. Take it away, Wozza!

Reviewer: Duncan MacDonald

Before we begin I want to tell you about a prediction of mine: I predict that by the year 2079, all words will begin with the letter 'x'. It's such a futuristic letter, n'est pas? Much more futuristic than say a 'j' or a boring old 'b'. Righto chumbles, onto the game.

Xarax (crikey, it's got two), is a view from above, vertical-scrolling shoot and bomb 'em up. Phew. The scores and things are displayed on the left half of the screen while on the right the scenery scrolls down towards you leaving you to bomb the ground emplacements and shoot/avoid the formations of flying enemy craft. You've seen it before (and even if you haven't there really isn't much else to explain).

Graphically it's fairly standard. Use of colour is conservative and everything's reasonably detailed, although a little on the small side. The flying sprites are adequately animated and the scrolling is quite smooth.

Anyone remember the Spectrum version of Xevious? (another 'x' by jingo - folk catch on fast). The reason I ask is that Xarax is almost exactly the same. A studious 'techno person' might suggest that the source code could have been 'lifted'. However, being a bit of a 'femto-brain' who doesn't know what 'source-code means, I would probably look a trifle bewildered. Suffice to say that the two games are, eeerm, quite similar indeed. Anyway - sum up.

If you're a fan of simple mindless shoot 'em ups (and I have to confess I'm not), and you haven't got a great deal of dosh in your pocket then you could do worse than to buy this. However, at £1.99 its not going to be the cheapest 'cheapie' on the shelf, so maybe you won't. Boiiiing, YS 'favourite futuristic words' No. 832. Xylophone. (More next year).

Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 6/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 6/10
Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 73, Apr 1988   page(s) 69

Label: Firebird
Author: R. Spahl and I. Gittelbauer
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Vertically scrolling arcade games. What call is there for them? We must have had enough of them in the past. We've had Xevious, Terra Cresta, Commando and a host of others. But Xarax is a bit special. For one thing it only costs £2.99.

Xarax is a vertically scrolling shoot and bomb 'em up in the same guise as Xevious (get away). I say it's like Xevious. Well I'm lying. It is Xevious. In fact, it's a hell of a lot better than the official conversion of said game. You fly your little spaceship upwards over 7 levels of increasing difficulty. The backdrops to the levels differ greatly, so there is a lot of variety in the game. The first level alone is almost exactly the same as Xevious, you know what I mean - flying over a desert shooting flying discs and bombing pyramids and cannon installations. However things change.

The backdrops are very well laid out. They are designed in such a way that they provide a constant challenge (there are no 'safe bets'), keeping you on your toes, and it is well worth dying just to get your breath back.

The aliens don't just come on fast, they stream on to the screen in waves of about 8 at a time, though with practice you learn where they tend to appear from and it is possible to destroy them as they come on to the screen.

The game is hard. It's very hard. It took me a very long time to get off level 1, but I persevered, and found level 2 to be a lot better. It has lots of ships in it, a la Flying Shark, which fire missiles and bullets at you in an alarming rate. I have yet to complete level 2, so there is plenty of challenge there, and a dire need for a poke or cheat mode.

There you have it. A Xevious clone that is actually better than Xevious itself. If it doesn't do well I'll eat my granny, her bathchair and her collection of Cliff Richard LPs.

Overall: 8/10

Summary: First class vertical scrolling shoot and bomb 'em up destined to be a hit. Better than many full price games around.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 78, Apr 1988   page(s) 27

MACHINES: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Firebird
PRICE: £2.99

"Get 'em!" Stark advice from the starting screen of Xarax. But my advice to you is: Get it!

This is one hell of a nifty shoot 'em up that deserves your attention. And at £2.99 it a street-wise buy as well.

There's not really a lot to tell you about this game. The cassette notes are, to say the least, sparse: "Bomb and blast the way to the salvation of your world." Highly informative, I don't think.

But let's press on. You control a space ship flying over a vertically scrolling landscape. The inevitable flying aliens are soon proving right little pests.

The first wave comes whirling past in a sort of looping formation, fast and frequent. Matters are complicated by ground installations which deal death at you.

But fear not. It's not just your flying skills which will keep you out of trouble, although quick reactions are vital.

The spacecraft, which by the way, has eight directional movement, is equipped with unlimited laser power and bombs. The lasers can only be used on the airborne enemy while the grenades are more than enough to take out any ground-based problems you come across. And they will prove to be problems.

The craft has a cross-hair sight in front of it which allows you to zero in for ground attacks with quite a degree of accuracy.

As you progress into the game the installations become more complex. Instead of just one bolt of death heading your way, there's a whole barrage.

And that's basically the game.

What makes it special is the price. In fact, in terms of quality programming, Xarax is a lot better than a lot of the full price shoot 'em ups doing the rounds at the moment. God forbid that we would name names but have you seen Go's Bedlam?

It's possible Firebird could have put this out a higher price. But that's their blunder and your good fortune. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say.

Finally, congratulations to programmers R. Spahl and T. Gittelbauer. Xarax is a job well done.

Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 6/10
Value: 10/10
Playability: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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