Flash the message, something's out there

X-out logo Amiga Computing Excellence

BLISTERING barnacles. What a load of rotten fish. After years of waiting, the great assault on mankind has at last materialised. While we watched the skies they massed their forces in the oceans. Now they're going to pay us back for all the crap we dumped in the North Sea.

A bunch of highly evolved fish have developed weapon technology far surpoassing our own. Instead of mounting a takeover bid for GEC however, they seem intent on destroying the human race..

Well just wait till you get hold of them eh? You'll knock them off their perch. They thought we'd just clam up without moving a mussel did they? Well they'll have to get their skates on to escape without a battering.

Two defectors from the enemy camp are on hand to be of assistance. For a small fee they will supply you with a selection of ships and advanced bolt-on weaponry.
This is quite a novel aspect of the game. Instead of having to blast, say, 20 red aliens with funny ears and collect the glowing orange pod that they drop you can now pay up front for any weapon you might want.
Saves on the potential embarrassment not to say inconvenience encountered should a previously unnoticed alien life form incapacitate your craft on the way to pick up said glowing orange pod.

Of course this means you must have the necessary dosh. You start out with a small advance, but further sums depend on your score during a particular level.

Everything you mercilessly blast is worth points. And what do points make? Weapons! Unfortunately this means that if you buy lots of equipment at the beginning of each level you could end up having no score to speak of. Them's the breaks, I guess.

Smoothly sideways scrolling through an ocean tench, sorry trench, notice the wonderfully crafted backdrops. Don't notice them for too long though or you'll fall foul of wave upon wave of demented avengers.

Admittedly when you're ared to the teeth some of them regard you with much the same attitude as I'm sure the fattest of the fatted calves adopted when he happened to notice the prodigal son turn into the drive.

Most of the piscine efforts are but poor players on the stage of life who strut for a few milliseconds before they are gon and seen no more.

The obligatory end-of-level beastie, and the now de rigeur half-way through level beastie put up a pretty good showing though. A lot of advanced planning is required to have the right weapons available to be able to deal with these hazards effectively.

As shoot-'em-ups go this is one to take note of. What is lost in originality (and let's face it, who has written a truly original alien-blaster recently?) is more than made up for by the wonderful graphics and fast action.

Gameplay is excellent, although the game can be very tough at times. The only thing that mars the whole effort is the loading. Obviously a penalty for the detailed graphics, levels, can take more than the customary couple of seconds to start up from floppy.

There is also an unnecessary long wait, when you die, for the high score table after which the main game has to load in again. However, these faults can be easily forgiven when a game is as good as this.
Lovely graphics, lovely sound, lovely action, lovely game.

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RAINBOW ARTS £24.99 * Joystick

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That's certainly true of computer games. Just as software houses are getting to grips with the power of the Amiga and realise that game concepts unthinkable on smaller machines are possible, out comes a deluge of shoot-em-ups. And why not? Done well, they can be tremendously playable, addictive and enjoyable.

Up there with the best of them have to be Rainbow Arts whose Denaris, despite the legal wrangles, is still one of the best shoot-em-ups about. Now comes X-Out. Will it steal the crown?

To start with, the game gives the plauer lots more choices. Right at the start of the game the player enters a shop and is given 12,000 credits to spend as he wishes. This includes purchasing extra ships with which to fight on once the first ship has been destroyed.

There are four types of ship available, ranging from the smallest and cheapest which can carry three weapons at once, to the largest and most expensive which can carry up to 12 weapons at once. Of course, the weapons the ship carry all cost money, so there's no points having a ship with the ability to carry maximum weapons if that means you only leave yourself enough credits for one measly weapon.

There's a wide selection of firepower available from the shop including satellites that circle the ship firing when you do. There's even a choice of circling patterns available when you decide which satellite to buy. Then there are three way firing pods, smart bombs and flame throwers all of which must be considered.

Whichever you choose you're going to find the going tough in this left-to-right blaster which starts underwater and takes you through crystal structures and volcanic scenery. There are flying (or should that be swimming?) nasties as well as a plethora of ground-based gun turrets and the like that all need destroying.

You must also avoid the jutting out pieces of scenery if you're hoping to make your way past the mid- and end-of-level guardians and back into the shop to spend the credit you've collected along the way and get stuck into the next of eight levels.


The tunes playing throughout are the sort of jolly sounds you'd expect to hear in this type of game and the various explosions and other effects are par for the course too. The graphics are good and everything is smoothly animated although the screen does slow down occasionally when there are lots of sprites on screen.

The backgrounds vary from very nice to a bit dull, but there's usually enough happening to take your mind off the graphics.


It's a toughie, so it'll take you ages to complete: and even if you do manage to finish it, it still has enough variety to come back to if you fancy a blast at any time.


Denaris still rules. X-Out is very competent and a good example of the genre, but what new features it has don't lift it head and shoulders above a dozen or so other quality shoot--em-ups. If, however, you really need a new (and different) challenge, then it's well worth checking out.

X-out logo Amiga Joker Hit

In Diensten von Rainbow Arts produziert das Programmierteam "Faktor 5" Action-Hits am laufenden Band: Waren sich die ersten Mega-Ballereien "Katakis" und "R-Type" noch sehr ähnlich, so weht jetzt schon ein ganz anderer Wind...

Bei X-Out (Gesprochen: Crossout) findet die große Schlacht zwischen Gut und Böse nämlich ausnahmsweise nicht in den Weiten des Alls statt, sondern in düstren Unterwasser-, Lava-, und Kristallandschaften. Vor jedem neuen Spielabschnitt geht's erstemal zum Shopping: In einem gut sortierten Waffenladen darf zwischen vier verschiedenen Raumschiffen gewählt werden, an die man dann nocht schnell ein paar Extrakanonen, Schutzschilder oder Satelliten montiert.

Die Montage ist denkbar einfach: Per Joystick wird das gewünschte Schiff erst ausgewählt, dann auf einem Rasterfeld plaziert und abgelegt. Das Gleiche wiederholt sich mit den Extras, solange die Kohle reicht - fertig ist der Raumgleiter mit der persönlichen Note!

Ehe man nun sein Gefährt zur Feuertaufe ins Feindesland schickt, sind ein paar Lockerungsübungen für die Fingermuskulatur dringend zu empfehlen: In X-Out ist dermaßen viel Action angesagt, daß mit bösen Krämpfen in der Joystick-Hand stets gerechnet werden muß! Kaum daß man in den ersten Level gestartet ist, stürzen auch schon Heerscharen feindlicher Wassergleiter heran und eröffnen erbarmungslos das Feuer. Schnell ausweichen und selbst Zunder geben!

Leichter gesagt als getan, überall treiben Wasserminen, deren Berührung den Energiepegel unseres Schiffes rapide sinken läßt. Damit nicht genug: Auch Steinpfeiler und Felswände müssen während des Kampfgetümmels um jeden Preis vermieden werden, und die vielen Bodengeschütze oder die heranrasenden Roboter machen die Sache auch nicht leichter.

Wer das alles übersteht, braucht sich am Ende jedes Levels "nur" noch mit einem schön schaurigen Schlußmonster herumzuschlagen, das natürlich besonders viele Treffer wegstecken kann...

Trotz der Überdosis Action ist das Game niemals unfair, mit Geschick, Übung und Konzentration ist hier jedes Problem zu meistern. Die gefürchteten "unspielbaren" Stellen fehlen gänzlich, was X-Out weit über die Baller-Konkurrenz (selbst des eigenen Hauses) erhebt!

Auch die Technik kann begeistern: Die Level scrollen sowohl horizontal als auch vertikal, die Hintergründe sind ein (Alp-)Traum, ja selbst die riesigen Schlußmonster wurden bildschön und flüssig animiert. Ein besonderes Lob an den Grafiker Celàl, alleine der wahnsinnige Vorspann ist schon eine Wucht! Über die Qualitäten des Sounds braucht man nicht nachsinnen: Chris Hülsbeck zeigt sich wiedermal von seiner Schokoladenseite und entlockt dem Amiga herrlich stimmungsvolle Klänge.

Was soll man noch sagen? Selten wurde ein Ballergame so brillant in Szene gesetzt wie hier - Action-Fans, die sich diesen Genuß entgehen lassen, sind nun wirklich selber schuld! (Carsten Borgmeier)

X-out logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Rainbow Arts

You can get prettyy frustrated waiting for software to arrive at the offices of CU, and often when it does it's a terrible disappointment. How often we've groaned at the sight of another badly converted licence or tossed aside another hyped release after a cursory look. That's when games like X-Out come as a very pleasant surprise.

Rainbow Arts have sprung into life as the year ends, first with the highly playable Rock 'n' Roll, and now with this. X-Out marks a return to what they do best - shoot 'em ups. Now that the furore over Katakis/Denaris has been forgotten they come up with another class blast.

The sales blub describes X-Out as 'a multi sensory assault', and whilst there's an element of hyperbole there, it's not too far off the truth. It's pretty impressive stuff. True, it's a fairly typical horizontal blast, but what they've squeezed in is little short of remarkable. X-Out has 40 different aliens, 50 pics per second, and 48 colour graphics.

X-Out is set in the depths of earth's oceans where, Abyss-like, aliens have set up shop. However, there's nothing very warm about their intentions, because they're using the sea floor as a base to launch a series of attacks on the world. As ever, it's left to you to pilot a lone craft to the heart of their defences to stop the rot. That lone craft though, probably has the potential to be the most heavily armed in the history of gaming. The array of weaponary is available for it.

The game begins in the weapon shop, which has a passing similarity to the one in Xenon II. You are given a certain number of credits with which to fit your ship. Once you have enough money, you can afford to strap on nearly a dozen weapons to the bigger ships. This is part of the fun, because when you see some of the awesome destructive ability that the disk laser, or the lightning bolts can wield, you're going to be spending like crazy.

The game offers you 8 levels of action, and since each is some twenty screens long, you can imagine the test is pretty tough. The backgrounds alter in each, cycling, amongst others, through some neat crystal formations, and volcanic crusts.

X-Out may not be a breath of fresh air, it's not original enough for that, but what it does is offer another option to fans of shoot 'em ups, who are still poorly served after two years of releases.

X-out logo Zero Hero

Paul Lakin once had an extremely unfortunate experience with a glass of water and an action man snorkel. So it was with some trepidation that he set out to review Rainbow Arts' underwater extravaganza X-Out.

Hell, I'm only reading the instructions and I'm already sinking. Abandon ship everybody, women and gamesplayers first. What do you mean 'this is a submarine game'? Hmm, submarine, that's latin for something I think. Sub means... er... under and marine - that's a type of soldier isn't it? So X-Out is a game about being under a soldier. Crumbs!

Ah, having consulted a Latin dictionary I see that X-Out is an underwater shoot 'em up. Now you wouldn't catch me in a submarine for all the beer in Yorkshire, I have enough trouble staying afloat without strapping a large metal periscope to my back. If god had meant us to live underwater he wouldn't have invented cricket. (Yer wot? Ed).

However the evil thingies from Alpha Centauri don't play cricket, so when they invaded the Earth they built their bases under the sea. Problem is, of course, no one noticed these thingies started trying to attract attention to themselves by taking potshots at passing planes and ships. Not a situation that can be tolerated I'm sure you'll agree. Hence Project Deep Star. (A strange name for an underwater project but that's hwere committees get you).

Project Deep Star is a subtle and imaginative project consisting of arming up a load of submarines and sending them out to blast the aliens. Pretty cunning, heh?
This is where you come in. Starting with just about enough money for a day return to Cleethorpes, you have to buy and equip a sub and go out shooting. There are a choice of submarines - the cheapest can only carry three weapons and is about as much use as a sink plunger with a hole in it. The really expensive version is more my cup of Horlicks, especially once it's bristling with twelve fearsome weapons.

Fortunately there are also a range of satellites. Those lovelies can be placed round the sub for protection and are either fixed or move in their own orbit. By the time I'd finished with that little lot you couldn't see me for shields. Whoops! No money left for weapons. Ah well, if I see an alien I'll nibble his ankles.

At the end of each level, assuming you get there of course, there is the chance to trade in old weapons and buy new ones. Decisions made here are vital. Each level suits slightly different configurations of weapons and, in my case, shields. It's also possible to select from one of five speeds for your sub. Whether you use the extra speed for charging into battle or charging away from it is entirely a matter between you and your pride.

Once the submarine (or submarines, you can buy more than one) is fully equipped, it's time to strap on your marine boy helmet and prepare to take the plunge... (Groan! Ed.)

Amiga reviewPaul: The first thing that hits you about X-Out is the sound. Good is not the word for it, though very good just might be. (That's two words. Ed.) Using a new TFMX system, no I don't know what it stands for either, (It stands for jolly super sound system actually! Ed.) Rainbow Arts has produced a bassy sound that wouldn't be out of place in a nightclub - well an underwater one anyway.

As good, if not better, than the sound are the background graphics. The eight levels of the game contain four different worlds. The Crystal World is probably the most spectacular, but for old sentimentalists like me level one was by far the best. The green depths are littered with ruined ships and abandoned cities - well atmospheric.

However with over 50 objects simultaneously on the screen there is little time to appreciate the niceties of your surroundings. Before you've had a chance to say "Oooh Mildred look that one up in the guide book" you'll find your submarine has been subdivided, leaving you clutching a very soggy copy of Berlitz's Guide To The Seabed.

The monsters are certainly an impressive and varied bunch (in fact they're impressively varied). Some have a simple lemming tendency which makes them ideal laser fodder. Others are tougher than yesterday's pasta.

The end of level aliens were even more tricky. The best way of dealing with them is to snuggle up close and then let them have it with everything you've got - including the kitchen sink. Though snuggling up to these beasties is about as appealing as french kissing a killer whale.

Within the limitationa of a shoot 'em up it is hard to fault X-Out. The graphics are colourful and interesting, the monsters are imaginative and genuinely different. Some of the submarine's weapons are a tad irritating since they only fire intermittently and when they feel like it - which is always when you least feel like it (life's a bitch like that). However the independent satellites are an impressive addition to the shoot 'em-up arsenal.

With X-Out, Rainbow Arts hasn't necessarily done anything terribly new to the shoot 'em up format, they've simply done it a whole lot better than most. Stop

X-out: Ship & Weapon Equipment Screen
Where the best dressed sub mariner buys his nautical nighties! Oh, and some other stuff like the odd submarine and weapons too.
1 Basic Shots: These shots range from weak to strong. The weak is the equivalent of a slap with a damp codpiece; the strong is more like a slap with a double decker bus. 8 Smart Bombs: The soft option, they destroy everything on the screen (except you). Try to resist the temptation to use them at the first sign of trouble though, you only get one per level.
2 Ships: The smallest ship is cheap but can only carry three weapons and usually survives for three pico seconds. The bigger ships cost an arm and a leg. You pays your money, you takes your choice. 9 Set of Drones/Drone Collector: These guys can do the fighting while you courageously watch them from behind the nearest stalctite.
3 Guide Missiles: Good for killing meanies you haven't even noticed. Alternatively you could try concentrating a bit harder. 10 Laser: Does to aliens what the microwave did to my hamster.
4 Bouncing Bomb: Give those sea bed gun emplacements a taste of the old Dambusters treatment. 11 Shield: You can't have too many of these.
5 Energy Wall: Powerful multi-purpose weapon that seems to have a mind of its own. 12 Satellites: Either fixed, moving or homing these are your defences. No self-respecting coward should be without one or, preferably, several.
6 Flame Thrower: Anyone fancy fried aliens on toast? 13 Total Spending Points: What you never have enough of, but gets biggeras you get better.
7 Fire Claws: This fires in a two pronged curv. Line up on your least favourite alien and then watch in horror as you miss him completely. 14 Thrash Can: Swallows your mistakes, like when you nearly buy a missile instead of another homing satellite.

X-out logo

Rainbow Arts, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Rainbow Arts have practically revolutionized the old extra-lives concept by offering you a range of ships to have in your 'fleet', each individually armed!

You begin the game in a shop with a hideous alien shopkeeper for whom shoplifting is never to be a problem. His most expensive goods are four ships which can be fitted with 3-12 weapons. Once selected, a ship can be placed on the design grid where a number of weapons can be fitted. The basic (in-built) weapon is a gun for which you can choose three strengths of bullet, fitting in up to three directions. There's also three types of guided missiles, plus bouncing and smart bombs. Up to six drones can be released, firing automatically, and re-collected. Even more impressive are the satellites; eight types moving in different patterns.

The most graphically awesome weapons are the super-weapons - Fireclaw, Flamethrower and Energywall - activated by holding down fire.

Between each multiloaded level you return to the shop where you can uprate you ships, and even buy new ones if you have the cash!

Robin Hogg The most impressive thing about X-Out are the weapons - you can easily spend hours, even days getting the hang of them. Choosing how your satellites will move and where to place them and drones is great. And working out which ship to arm how provides great tactical depth. Another good idea is how you can swap between two secondary weapons.
It's a pity then that the game is otherwise a fairly conventional horizontally-scrolling shoot-'em-up. There's a few nice touches, such as the aliens which leave matter trails behind them (as in R-Type) and impressive mid-level and end-of-level baddies, but only the weapons are new. Still, on both formats presentation is first class with great graphics and good tunes - especially on the Amiga which so often suffers ST game clones. If you're a shoot-'em-up fanatic both versions are top notch, but the C64's already got a huge variety of similar games and X-Out needed more original baddies.
Scorelord While sharing the Welshman's disappointment with the overly familiar attack patterns, I thought the great weapons choice and technical excellence compensated. The graphic detail is superbly unpleasant, particularly on the end-of-level monsters. Working out how to deploy your weapons is really satisfying - when you get it right. C64 tape owners will find it initially painful: dying on level one means you have to reload the shop, the high score table, and level before restarting. Very irritating until you start to make progress onto further levels where fast loading makes it no more painful than any other multiload. Buying new ships and weapons between levels then becomes a welcome respite between the action, and a chance to work out new tactics - although maybe a bit too much money is offered. Definitely recommended if you fancy a bit novel.