Thursday, 8 October 2015

Xenophobe - Arcade

The crazy split screen... It's only going to get worse.

I imagine a meeting at Midway's office.

"Yes, let's ride the success of Aliens (the film) the idea of huge monsters that kill humans very easily and very rapidly running around space stations and planets, nomming down people like candy and causing something to burst from their chests in that odd parody of pregnancy and birth that results in the vasectomy rate going up each time this film comes on for some reason. Let's take that idea, not buy the actual license (Because Konami has it anyway) and make a game that is basically a big send up of the original material."

Game over? I'm FREE! YES!!!

"However, lets royally fuck up the control system and make it as awkward as hell, unplayable by those casual gamers (you know the ones I mean, people that have never played before and expect arcade games to be intuitive and easy to use while real skill comes from experience) and overwhelm people with this abysmal mess and scare them off because we've already got their credits so what the hell do we care after that."

And they were applauded and given a raise and they made this game.

The controls... The horror... But all because of the controls.

I'm not being entirely fair though. So let me break this stuff down.

In what is supposed to be a 3-player game, Xenophobe can allow up to 3 players to play through the game at once. Each one can wander the space-station corridors, meet up and play together or go solo through the space station in search of the key components to beat the mission. Or play until time runs out and the place blows up. Your main mission being to kill every single alien in the space station before the self-destruct kicks in.

So I'm an alien, fighting other aliens, in a game titled "fear of aliens"...

That being said, the levels wrap around themselves so if you keep heading in one direction you'll end up back where you started, but the aliens can move around too. There's multiple weapons to find and keep for yourself in which you can use to kill the aliens from different guns like the laser, gas and lightning, as well as grenades but you're more likely to blow yourself up with those and the aliens tend to attack from most places. Creeping little critters that look like shelled face-huggers, mid aliens that crawl and pounce, big aliens that spit acid and use their mass to attack and other undesirables along the way.

Sadly, you never blow up on ship, you get teleported out. So you can suffer some more.

The biggest problem in the game is the completely unintuitive control system. You've an attack button, and two actions buttons. One used for getting up and jumping and interacting with the backgrounds, the other for crouching, throwing off enemies, picking up objects and throwing grenades. That's right, one button crouches, the other jumps. At times it's simply easier to just crouch, let the aliens come to you and blast as many as you can before the timer runs out in Xenophobe. Speaking of which, if you find switches and buttons, you can find out how many aliens are left and how much time is left before it all blows up. Usually around 100 or so are in most levels, more in the later ones but with the controls how they are, players aren't going to be keen to find out.

Forget the timer, where's the "Blow it the fuck up now!" button?

Add to this an ever diminishing health count and unfair attacks from monsters you simply cannot avoid and monsters that can shrug off damage JUST to hit you (seemingly, but almost always happens) and you end up with an largely unplayable mess that most players will blunder their way through until they get bored or their credit runs out of health. Usually the former. Steer clear of this chaotic mess of a game.