Xenophage

a game by Apogee
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 1 review
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Overview

Mortal Kombat? Mortal Kombat 2? Been there? Done that? Want to do it some more? Well, in case you do, there's Xenophage from Apogee. It's Pong with some blood thrown in, it's sexist, it's gory, it has an option for "Postmortem Humiliation." Will it shock you? Maybe. That's really its biggest selling point, I guess, because the 2D scrolling fighting genre has just about been completely wrung dry, and Xenophage doesn't really find much left to recommend it. Choose from one of 6 aliens or 2 humans and duke it out with kicks, punches, and high-flying combo moves, then rip your weary opponent's head from his/her shoulders and play soccer with it while doing a little postmortem jig. Show it to grandpa and watch the look on his face ... that'll be about the only thing new you'll get from this tired addition to the crowd of Mortal Kombatwannabes.

Oh, I almost forgot, there's also the aspect of getting to beat up women ... now, I grant you, at the root of this game there is simply a male character and a female character among the many you can choose from, and I'm sure that somewhere in the minds of those who created this game there is the rationalization that having a female fighter is somehow striking a blow for equality. Quite frankly, though, given the prevailing attitude toward violence against women (witness the O.J. trial, the recent sexual abuse scandals in the military, and on and on), it just sort of makes you cringe to see a guy who is dressed like a hulking lumberjack give roundhouse kicks to a woman's face. And seeing that her combo move is what can only be described as a high-heeled crotch dance doesn't do anything to promote the idea that her character is a physical equal. If anything, I take it as a move that is designed to spur male players to want to beat her up even more aggressively. As with 3D Realms' Duke Nukem, there is a definite line between juvenile humor and truly offensive displays, and Xenophage crosses that line. Litmus test, guys: would you be embarrassed to have your wife, girlfriend or daughter watch you playing this game? If so, why? Just something I hope the game makers will start thinking about a little more earnestly.

Gameplay / Interface

The premise is simple: mano-a-mano bare-fisted combat. You select a player from a menu of different critters, select who you want to beat up on, and then go step into the ring. Controls too are very simple: One button kicks, one punches, two together do a combo, and the arrow keys move you back and forth. There. That's the instruction manual. Toggle the amount of blood, your ability to rip off heads, and whether you want some synth music while you kick the other guy in the groin, all from a series of easily navigable menus.

Graphics

VGA with more blood spurts than a bad B-movie vampire flick.

Audio

Lots of grunts, groans, and shrieks. Straightforward and appropriate to the genre. Synth music, but who cares? Not like you need Beethoven when street fighting ...

Documentation

A ten-page manual is more than adequate for this game ... it devotes more press space to bios and abilities of each fighter than to playing the game.

System Requirements

486 DX-33 with 8 MB RAM. VGA monitor and video card. Supports joystick, keyboard. Low-end requirements, simple graphics and gameplay don't require more.

Bottom Line

It's just been done so many times before ... Xenophage is not a bad game per se, but it's very simplistic and won't entertain mature game players very long. This genre did best, and rightly so, in the arcade and on the consoles where you could easily duke it out with your friend and where a big screen made the explosions, flashes, blood, etc. much more impressive.

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