Atari Lynx Review: Xenophobe on Lynx Lounge
By Brian Thomas Barnhart |
Hey what’s up everybody? Welcome back to the Lynx Lounge! I’m your host BTB! And it’s a kind of a gloomy day here in Southern California, if you can believe it. So today I thought I’d play a little Xenophobe.
Hey, if you like Star Trek, if you like the movie Aliens, you are going to love love love this game. This was a great arcade cabinet. Three of your friends could play. And it did this really cool thing where it split up the screen into three different sections, so each player had a section of the screen.
Now this cartridge that we are going to play today, this is one of three cartridges, that I know of, that basically the designers, instead of showing the full view of the screen, what they decided to do on the Lynx was zoom in on the action. This game is one of them. Rampage is another one. And Double Dragon. Now if there are any other arcade games for Lynx, that they decided to zoom in on the action, please let me know. I’m only aware of these three. There might be more, but let me know.
So why did they do this? Why did they zoom in on the action for this game? Well, if you take a look at a 19-inch arcade Wells-Garner monitor, you have plenty of real estate to split it up into three different sections. There’s a ton of space on a huge arcade monitor to fit in all those pixels nice and clear.
Now imagine, you trying to do that on the Atari Lynx. It has a very small screen compared to the arcade game. There’s no way to fit in all of those little pixels without losing detail. It’s a small screen to begin with, and the sprites would be even smaller. And we all know that the Lynx has some really beefy, chunky sprites. We love those big sprites, right? But Lynx doesn’t do the little tiny, tiny, little detailed sprites.
Now I believe the TurboExpress, when the TurboGrafx-16 came out, it had that problem. When you play Bonk’s Adventure, or Bonk’s Revenge on your TV set, it looked great! But then when you try to shrink it down into a little tiny screen… didn’t look too good. The sprites were just too small on the screen to be easy to play. Very cool that it was able to do that! Too small. So Atari decided to zoom in on the action.
Personally I think that this version of Xenophobe is one of the best, if not the best. You know what? I’m going to say it. It’s the best. You want to know why? It’s got multiplayer. Not only does it have multiplayer, but you can also play as one of the aliens, and you can hunt your friends. Hello? Up to four players. Give me a break.
Also the graphics are better than anything that’s out there. Better than the Amiga. Better than the Commodore 64. Nintendo NES. Xenophobe for Atari 7800. Any other system that it was on, this one basically blew everyone out of the water.
And it was portable.
“Xenos. The creatures of nightmare. When the planet was first settled, the new colonists were attacked by those hideous creatures from the outer worlds. Only after suffering heavy casualties were the colonists able to fight off the Xenos. Since then, frequent attacks had caused the people of the planet to protect themselves by developing a complex system of space stations to warn off Xeno attacks.”
– Atari Lynx Xenophobe Manual
Okay, so it looks good, it sounds good, the music is great. You get to pick from all these different, crazy characters.
How does it play? Well to be honest, I am going to say that this plays better than the arcade. I think that it plays better than any other system out there. And here’s why: The controls are spot-on perfect. Very responsive. Everything works very, very well. I feel like I am in total control of this game. And it’s a joy to play.
Not only is it a joy to play, but it is so darn charming, I just love everything about it. It’s funny! The characters are funny! The aliens have attitude. It’s just really beautiful to look at. I really love the graphics. I mean, to me, this is top notch.
If you were to play this in the arcade, you basically had a TRON-style joystick with a trigger button, and buttons on the top. And those controlled different things like throwing bombs, picking up items. Obviously the trigger would be shooting, jumping, and that sort of thing.
I always felt that the controller was a little wacky in the arcade. I wish it was just a joystick with some buttons. But this is what they gave us. They wanted to make it look like a very futuristic, cool, space-looking cabinet, which it did. It was awesome looking. But the controls were a little strange. I don’t necessarily like using a flight stick like that when I’m controlling a side-scrolling character. That’s just me.
“So what is this game about? Well, it’s about aliens, who have overrun space stations, space shuttles, and moon bases. And it’s your job to eradicate everything that is green and slimy. If it’s coming out of an egg, you need to blast it. If it’s chuckin’ slime at you, blast it. When in doubt, really, you should just be blasting everything. ”
– Brian Thomas Barnhart, Lynx Lounge
There’s a lot of really cool things that happen within the game. For example, you have the opportunity… well it’s really not an opportunity it’s actually a tragedy… you could lose your gun in the heat of a battle and you can just be using your fists. Which is really not recommended when fighting aliens.
But there’s phasers, there’s laser pistols, there’s a lightning rifle. Bombs. I mean it’s got a lot of really really cool things to play with, and to blow up aliens with. Not to mention the jetpack. I mean, if you get that jetpack, you’re set. You could be flying around the whole level. And it is so much fun.
It’s hard not to equate great pizza and great arcade games together, because there was a time where the only place that you were going to play games like Xenophobe was at your local pizza parlor. In fact, Willie and Pie Pizza, which was down the street from us, was a local mom and pop pizza place. They had a great arcade, great games in there. Xenophobe. Afterburner. OutRun. The Real Ghostbusters. They had a Pin-Bot machine in there. Oh, and let’s not forget 720°. So imagine being able to play the best version of Xenophobe, at home on your Atari Lynx. Not only that, you can take it to go with you.
So what do I think of this version of Xenophobe? It’s perfect. It is a perfect arcade game. Not only that, it adds the multiplayer element to it which is unique only for the Atari Lynx.
Think about that. Not only is it delivering a perfect arcade translation, it’s also giving you something extra… A little Atari twist. I mean who doesn’t like an Atari twist, right? They’re great!
So if you are looking to collect, or if you’re looking to play a great game, this game is a must-have. I would say this is on the top of my list. Obviously the top of the list is going to go to RoadBlasters. Probably Xenophobe is right underneath it. And what’s right underneath that? Well you’re gonna have to stay tuned for the list there, because it’s going to start growing.
Anyway thanks for tuning in today on this gloomy day here at the Lynx Lounge. Check out my other shows: The Jag Bar, if you want to take a look at Atari Jaguar stuff, Lynx Lounge for Atari Lynx, or 7800 Avenue if you’re into classic Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 video games.
Oh, and man oh man, the construction on the 7800 Avenue set is looking amazing. I’m going to show you a little sneak peek here. In the next episode, the next episode we do for 7800 Avenue, you’re going to see just a little taste of what’s going on in there. It’s gonna be sweet. Anyway, we’ll see you guys later. Ciao. And have a great day! Peace be with you, and all that jazz. Bye!
Xenophobe was programmed at Atari by Gil Colgate. Licensed through Midway Manufacturing Corp.
Brian Thomas Barnhart is a classic gaming aficionado, retro pop culture connoisseur, and a Senior Fellow at Atari I/O. He is host of The Jag Bar, Lynx Lounge, 7800 Avenue, and the Atari I/O After Hours Podcast. Brian is a Moderator in the Atari I/O Forums under the name btbfilms76. You can follow him on Instagram and at his YouTube channel.
model # PA 2026