Xatax for DOS

XataxToday’s game is called Xatax and is a shoot-em-up made in 1994 by a company called Pixel Painters. I hadn’t heard of them before which is unsurprising as they only made 3 games during the MS-DOS era.

The story in Xatax is fairly simple like most shooters. Humanity disarms after many years of peace and is attacked by something not surprisingly called the Xatax. It absorbs the biomass and materials of anything it encounters and adapts based on the knowledge it acquires in the process. Humanity restores a star fighter stored in a museum so you can fight back.

The game supports VGA graphics and has some quite good art, the artist favouring the use of gradients quite a bit. The animation and scrolling seem to be implemented nicely and move smoothly with no flicker. The sound system supports Adlib, Sound Blaster and Sound Blaster Pro cards utilising FM synthesis rather than digitised effects. The music sounds quite decent, but is a little repetitive whilst the sound effects are fairly simple.

Running the defensive gun gauntlet

Running the gauntlet

The controls work quite well, although if you don’t get the rapid fire upgrade you have to mash the fire button quickly to achieve a good rate of fire. The power-ups come out of enemies when destroyed and come in a few different flavours which are picked randomly. This can be a blessing and a curse as you might get a good power-up early on or ones which don’t help all that much. The missile power-up is probably the most useful.

Missiles FTW!

Missiles FTW!

When you collide with an enemy or the scenery you’re destroyed straight away and if you’re hit by a projectile you lose one of your power-ups and are destroyed when you have none. This in combination with the rarity of power-ups means you’re usually destroyed in one hit which makes the game quite punishing. It does have the option to change the difficulty level, but that only seems to change how many shots are required to destroy enemies.

Big O's!

Big O’s!

The main obstacle in the levels I’ve played are mostly defensive guns fixed to the scenery of the level. They shoot at regular intervals so you can get through their line of fire if need be, but it’s usually better to destroy them if you can, especially where there are a number of them. You can use a bomb to destroy everything on screen if you’re in real trouble, but like the power-ups there aren’t that many bombs to pick up.

Xatax is mostly fun, but punishing when you make any kind of mistake. I would have preferred a shield or energy system so I could keep the power-ups. I found it difficult to get through many levels because of how many times I died. Progress is difficult to make which can lead to the game being a little repetitive. It’s not bad by any means, just not as good as it could have been.

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3 Responses to “Xatax for DOS”

  1. January 12, 2016 at 2:30 am

    its kinda vaguely reminds me of stargunner which was just reviewed at ADG

    • January 12, 2016 at 6:08 am

      I’ll have to check it out when I get home from my parents place (i’m taking a short holiday out in the bush with them). Although I couldn’t see that many similarities from a quick cursory glance at screenshots.

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