Xeno is one of my favourite games on the ZX Spectrum and, to my mind, one of it’s best two player experiences – ranking alongside Target Renegade, Barbarian, Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, Match Day II and Bubble Bobble. However, it doesn’t seem to get quite as much recognition as those aforementioned games, which is a shame, as it’s every bit as good.
There is a basic plotline detailing how Xeno is a future sport developed by miners on Jupiters moon Io, but, as it’s a future sport simulation, the plot is really irrelevant.
The best way to describe Xeno, is to think of it as a futuristic cross between football and air hockey. You can play either against a computer controlled opponent (the skill level of which you can set beforehand) or – and this is where the real fun lies – against another player.
The action takes place in an arena, with either playing defending one goal, whilst attacking their opponents. Whoever scores the most goals wins. Simples.
The game is played out over quarters, much like American Football, the length of which can be predetermined. Keys can also be redefined, and joystick support is also included.
Each player takes turns to attack the puck/ball and either score a goal, or make a clearance from their own goal. However, sometimes your opponent can be in between you and the puck/ball. So it’s a good job (and indeed often a good strategy) that you can simply wallop them out of the way.
The amount of time you are allowed to take a shot can also be predetermined – Set it to a longer timeframe and you get the ability to think a couple of moves ahead and have a fairly sedate game, or – as I favour – set it as low as possible, resulting in a frantic, end-to-end, often exhilarating experience.
Xeno is definitely one of my all time favourite games, the graphics are great, the playability is top notch, and – with another human player in tow especially – an absolute laugh (this is of course based on memories of 1986 me. Nowadays I’m a Billy No Mates!)
IF you are unfamiliar with Xeno, give it a try. It’s utterly brilliant and highly addictive, although I’ve probably made it sound as dull as dishwater.