XP8 AGA logo

Price: £14.99 Publisher: Effigy Software 01526 834020

You may remember XP8 in its AGA form: a fast scrolling smooth shoot 'em up in the style of Banshee with a bit of Stardust thrown in. While it didn't score up in the same dizzy heights as the aforementioned games it still received a healthy 72% rating. A £19.99 price tag and too much sameability in the gameplay bringing its score down slightly.

This all-Amigas version is much the same as the AGA one suffering only a slight loss in the graphics. However, it still scrolls very smoothly so I had no problem controlling the ship using either a joystick/pad or keyboard.

The aim is simple, you've got a set number of mines to destroy for each mission. However, you've got to avoid or blast away all manner of meteorites/space type things that are trying to kill you along the way. Luckily, you don't have to rely on your dodging skills alone as you've lots of power ups to be had.

Although the same criticism of sameability could be leveled this version of XP8, it still runs and scrolls very smoothly. The music is nothing to write home about but I'm pleased to say it's now at the lower price of £14.99.

It's been a long time since I've played a vertical shoot 'em up and I must say that I really enjoyed this one. It's also good to see software companies still producing games for all Amiga owners.

XP8 AGA logo AGA

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

If you think of how many genres of games there are it's difficult to believe there is only one which I truly hate. You may think it's adventure games because you either love them to bits or you deny they exist, but no, it's not adventure games and it's certainly not platform games because ooh, I love them so much. So what can it be? Have a wild guess.

Since Xenon and Xenon 2 there hasn't been a single shoot-'em-up which has impressed me enough to play it. Okay, so Project X by Team 17 couldn't be accused of not attracting my attention, but it wasn't exactly a breakthrough in computer game technology now was it? It looked nice but played as well as Leicester City - promising but still rubbish.

So as you've already gathered, I'm not the world's best lover of shoot-'em-ups. But what makes them so original is the fact they have originated all the way from the early arcades and have hardly changed. The graphics are better (in some cases), but the gameplay is just as good as it ever was on the early versions, which to this day are still knocking around corners of some olf the older pubs.

The days are gone where you would drink ten pints and challenge someone to a game of Asteroids. Admittedly, you would fall over unconscious before you lost all your lives, but the point is the fun was there to be had. Why don't they do this with the Amiga?

You may think XP8 looks like one of the many hundred shoot-'em-ups but I assure you, it features much more than your average blast-'em-up. If you can remember a game called Battle Squadron from the early days of the Amiga, then imagine that but with better graphics and a more polished look and feel.

The programmers describe it as 'Banshee with sugared Stardust on top'. You can see why too

The programmers describe it as 'Banshee with sugared Stardust on top'. You can see why too. It has the playability of Banshee and the typical ray traced graphics we saw in Stardust but, in my opinion, XP8 is better than both.

The game features five levels which contain all those clever ray traced-like baddies like Stardust, so it's easy to see that they've taken time with the graphics. There's also a two-player mode so you and a mate can combine force and try to destroy the enemy. As you destroy more ships they will reveal power ups and more weapons - there are eight all together and can all be increased five times in power.

Finally, when you reach the level end you will be confronted with a huge beastie which will throw out homing missiles, amongst other things.

The game is well presented featuring attractive introduction screens instructing you on the next mission because XP8 isn't just a straightforward points fest, there are missions to complete. There are some nice touches too, for example when your ship gets hit the whole screen flashes brilliant white and shakes about as if you've really been hit, which makes all the difference to a standard little explosion sprite.

You can customise the options so you can control the game. Everything involved in the game can be changed which is a good thing because if there's something you don't particularly like you can just alter it or scrap it completely. This just shows how much thinking has gone into the development of the game.


You can order XP8 for £19.99 from this address:

WeatherMine Software 50 Taleworth Road Ashtead, Surrey K121 2PY

Make your cheques payable to Weathermine Software. The price includes postage and packaging. If you have any doubts or queries you can contact the team on 01372 276042 or e-mail them on xp8@mattwms.demon.co.uk for more information.

Final word

Overall, it features some excellent graphics and sound effects and is one of the most enjoyable shoot-'em-ups ever to be released. It's what gamers everywhere have been crying out for since the demise of games like Xenon and Project X. Order a copy now, you won't regret it.

XP8 AGA logo AGA

Steve Bradley reckons that this vertical shoot-em-up is one of the most interesting to emerge for an age...

So XP8 isn't the most inspirational of names. It isn't the wailing of a female spirit warning of impending doom a-la-Banshee. Nor is it a gathering of distant stars which appear to the observer as a cloud of dust that is Stardust. It isn't even a Seventies rock 'n' roll film with David Essex and Ringo Starr.

It's 'XP8', or 'explate' - to atone or make redress or make amends. The name still, slight, cough, SEUCKs.

No matter. XP8 is a vertically scrolling shoot-em-up, that most immediate and rewarding of game genres. And it comes forth from the county of Surrey from a team who afford themselves the name, WeatherMine Software. WeatherVane would have been nice but that's by-the-by. You've never heard of them anyway so it matters not a jot. It's quite possibly their first, ahem, byte at the cherry.

Doesn't XP8 look nice? Take a peek at some of the screenshots, (oh, you have already?) screenshots which, incidentally, do little justice to the pristine quality of the visuals. You really do wow at the ray traced spacecraft upon loading the first of five, huge levels. Obviously, you're looking at an AGA game, here.

It's fairly obvious where the inspiration for the game has come from, the writers hint as much in their letter to the magazine. Core Design's fabulous Banshee and the splendid Amiga Format gold winning Super Stardust from Team 17 (AF64 90%).

If you've never played Banshee, I urge you to get hold of a copy. It's edifying fare enrobed with many excellent levels of blast-em action and embracing many neat graphical touches. Witness the women pushing prams across streets as you bomb the town, the sewage pumping from pipes into the harbour. Deft, indeed. It also has a simultaneous two player option which affords the opportunity for friends to fight like mad for the on-screen power-ups.

XP8 is much the same in format as Banshee, though in terms of visual presentation, it nods slightly in the direction of Super Stardust, 'asteroids of the nineties, as folks were wont to call it a couple of years back.

XP8 is set in space and like its 'asteroids-ian' counterpart, it's blessed with jaw lowering rendered ships and gorgeous explosions.

You're informed at the light of day what the mission objective is, then you dab the fire button and launch your ship into a barrage of objects. Like Banshee, when you eliminate turrets, towers, meteors and enemy craft so power-ups appear which boost your weapons and health and stuff.

You zig zag across the screen avoiding buildings and blasting everything in sight. XP8 is certainly no original. There really isn't much here that you won't have seen before but like predecessors Banshee and Super Stardust (OK, so SS has the rather splendid tunnel sequences), it's the quality of the execution that counts.

Many lengths have obviously swam to ensure that the 'just so' factor is present throughout. With 128 colours and caboodle moving at 50 frames per second, graphically the words 'super' and 'smooth' can be applied with ease.

There are 50 (count them, as they say) different rendered enemy craft and up to eight weapons to collect - each with five power increases. It's best played with a joypad where you can automatically change weapon without recourse to the keyboard.

Cleverly, the programmers have included not only a simultaneous two-player option, but the devils have also gone and given us an option to morph the ships to give you full-on, demolish-everything-in-sight firepower.

Both ships have to be on screen at the same time but the actual playing area extends about 50 per cent of the screen each way. Much like Banshee the two-player option is a gas - you often completely forget which ship is yours because of the ensuing mayhem.

Considering WeatherMine are a small, in-yer-bedroom type outfit, XP8 is an incredibly slick game. Any of the major players would surely have been more than pleased to release this? Such dedication, such attention to detail, such panache. Ahem, XP8 is more than worthy of a purchase. You won't see too much stuff that you haven't seen before but it's visually stunning and a blast. We like.

The price is £19.99 including post and packing. Send cheque/IMO/PO to WeatherMine Software 50 Taleforth Road Ashtead Surrey KT21 2PY.

XP8 AGA logo AGA AGA Only

Ostern oder nicht, die Newcomer von Weathermine Software stehen auf Überraschungen: Ohne jede Verwarnung durch ein Demo oder wenigstens eine Presseankündigung haben sie uns ein schickes Baller-Ei exklusiv ins AGA-Nest gelegt!

Wenn man auf Superlative steht, könnte man diesen vorwiegend vertikal scrollenden Alien-Schlachthof sogar als das Genre-Highlight des Jahres bezeichnen. In der Sache trifft dieses Kompliment durchaus zu - aber man muss es natürlich vor dem Hintergrund sehen, dass Amiga-Action der klassischen Machart momentan nur aus den nicht immer schmackhaften Quellen des Public Domain-Pools sprudelt, während sich die kommerziellen Softwarehäuser zuletzt praktisch allesamt in mehr oder weniger ansprechenden 3D-Labyrinthen herumtrieben.

Beruhigenderweise haben wenigstens die Storyschreiber in dieser ballerarmen Zeit nichts von ihrem Handwerk verlernt: Wie schon beim allerersten Auftauchen von Außerirdischen auf einem Computerbildschirm geht es auch hier mal wieder darum, in ferner Zukunft eine Alieninvasion abzuwehren und so die menschliche Zivilisation vor dem Untergang zu bewahren...

Bevor man dazu das Cockpit eines schwerbewaffneten Raumgleiters besteigt, um die bösen Aggressoren weg-zuzappen, landet man erst mal in einem Optionsmenü mit einem schier beispiellosen Service-angebot. Wahrhaftig, hier ist nun wirklich jede Kleinigkeit einstellbar! Zum Beispiel, über wie viele und wie kräftige Schutzschilde der eigene Raumer verfügt oder ob deren Zustand bei der Vergabe der Levelcodes gleich mitgespeichert werden soll.

Erfragt wird auch, wie häufig Powerups vorbeifliegen dürfen und ob diese in vorgegebenen Intervallen oder erst auf Beschuss hin ihr Aussehen und damit ihre Funktion ändern. Des weiteren kann die eigene Waffe nach einem Feindtreffer an Durchschlagskraft verlieren oder auch nicht.

Außerdem darf man sich dazu äußern, wie man es mit der Unterstützung durch ein zweiten Mitspieler und der Anzahl der Leben bzw. Continues halten will. Schließlich gibt es noch die Möglichkeit, nach einem Game Over per "Quickstart" sofort wieder durchzustarten, was im Floppy-Betrieb die sonst fälligen Ladepausen minimiert.

Last not least steht die Art der Steuerung zur Disposition: Stick- und Keyboard-Kanoniere schalten per Spacetaste zwischen den verschiedenen Waffensystemen um, Pad-Piloten erledigen das mit dem zweiten Button.

Um den Spieler in den Besitz der passenden Waffen zu bringen, beschreitet XP8 den unter vertikal scrollenden Ballereien üblichen Weg. Gelegentlich kommen also dicke Frachtschiffe hereingeschneit und hinterlassen nach ihrem Abschuss etliche Extra-Icons, die langsam herabschweben und dabei periodisch ihr Aussehen bzw. ihre Funktion verändern.

Je nachdem erhält man dann beim Einsammeln vielleicht eine Auffrischung für den geschundene Schutzschild oder Zusatzkanonen nach genreüblichem Strickmuster - die Schussfreuenz von Diagonal- und Rückwärts-Projektil, Streuschuss und anderen Waffengattungen lässt sich zudem durch weitere Extras erhöhen.

Äußerst praktisch sind auch die (fest im Gelände installierten) Smartbombs, deren Explosion zumindest die Feinde kleineren Kalibers mit ins Verderben reißt. Die größeren Mittel- und Endgegner verlangen dagegen schon nach individueller Behandlung, was aufgrund ihrere unterschiedlichen Bauweise und Angriffstaktik alles andere als ein Zuckerschlecken ist.

Abgesehen von den pflichtgemäß ahnden Gegnern erschweren aber auch ein paar kleine Macken des Spieldesigns den Flug durch die fünf großen XP8-Welten. So stehen manchmal hohe Gebäude im Weg herum, die im Kollisionsfall natürlich den Raumer massiv beschädigen. Und leider ist die nahende Gefahr optisch nicht immer rechtzeitig (z.B. am Schattenwurf) zu erkennen.

Ja, selbst das vorheugende bzw. -warnende Beschiessen hilft da nicht weiter, weil die Geschosse durch solche Türme einfach kommentarlos hindurchrasen.

Schwamm drüber, woanders entdeckt man dafür viele Beweise für die Detailverliebtheit der Programmierer. Die Mittel- und Endgegner zeigen ihre verbliebene Restenergie ganz ordentlich mit einer Prozentziffer an, während andere Feindraumer beim ersten Treffer qualmen, beim nächsten ihre bisherige Flugbahn verlassen und schließlich in Dutzende Einzelteil zerbersten.

Dass dabei laufend neue Grafiken von Floppy oder HD nachgeladen werden, fällt in der Hitze des Gefechts gar nicht auf. Denn das Scrolling ist immer butterweich und verkneift sich jegliches Ruckeln, trotz der imposant großen und bunten Sprites, die teilweise den Bildschirm bevölkern.

Auch die vollständig gerenderten und astrein animierten Angreifer sehen todschick aus, was man über die Hintergrundlandschaften nicht unbedingt behaupten kann: Wie anhand der hier wiedergegebenen Levelgrafiken klar zu erkennen ist, mangelt es den fünf Welten vor allem an Abwechslung und Eigenständigkeit.

Dieses Manko wird durch die mitreißenden Begleitmelodien und die originellen Sound-FX allenfalls zum Teil wieder wettgemacht.

Der langen Rede kurzer Sinn: XP8 ist im Großen und ganzen solide gemacht, ungewöhnlich optionsreich und bereitet besonders im deutlich einfacheren Duo-Modus eine Menge Spaß. Der Actionhammer schlechthin ist das Game deswegen nicht, aber es bringt doch eine ganze Menge Spannung auf den Amiga-Monitor. (rl)


Im ersten Abschnitt stellen sich dem Weltraumpiloten meist recht überschaubare Angriffsformationen in den Weg. Ab und an kreuzen zusätzlich Meteoritenstürme und extragroße Endgegner die FLugbahn, doch lassen diese sich relativ locker ausmanövrieren.


Die Landung in der Alien-Orbitstation ist mit der Aufgabe verbunden, Satellitenschüsseln zu zerstören und so die gegnerische Kommunikation zu unterbinden. Zu achten ist dabei vor allem au automatische Geschütztürme, wendige Kamikaze-Angreifer und der überraschende Flugmanöver - und nicht zuletzt auf hohe Gebäude, die bei Kollisionen am Energiepolster nagen.


Der turboschnell scrollende Highspeed-Tunnel strotzt nur so vor Barrikaden und Gegnern, die sich oft listig von hinten heranpirschen, beim Vorausflug aber die optimale Flugbahn verraten. Ziel ist es, erst die Plasmaringe und dann den großen Truppentransporter zu zerstören, der immer wieder kurz vorbeischwebt und seine Projektile gleich dutzendweise abfeuert.


Hier findet die Vorbereitung der Endoffensive statt: Man Muß die Atombunker zerstören, ohne sich dabei von automatischen Stalinorgeln treffen, von Turbo-Flammenwerfern rösten oder den rundumfeuernden Flak-Installationen ins Nirwana befördern zu lassen.


Die letzte Station des Action-Rundflugs ist der Heimatplanet der Aliens. Bevor im Finale das Zentralgehirn plattgemacht wird, ist eine bunte Auswahl der bereits bekannten Angreifer zu bezwingen: Minen, im Boden verborgene Raketenstarter, Rundum-Flammenwerfer und Kamikazeflieger werfen sich hier noch einmal alle gleichzeitig in die Schlacht.

XP8 AGA logo AGA

Pop groups used to name themselves using two letters and than an '8'. Now it would appear to be the turn of Amiga games.

Much good work has been put into (grr) XP8. The graphics, for instance, have been designed in the manner of Super Stardust's. Some sort of 3D rendering package (possibly called AmiRENDER! 3.0 or something - or something - our colleagues on Amiga Format could doubtless tell you more) has been employed to give them a metallic sheen, and to generate many frames of animation so that they can spin smoothly.

And spin they do, almost every baddy either rotating in its entirety or featuring at least one rotating component.

To complement them are attractive backgrounds (this time perhaps the work of proWORLDmaker+ 2.5). These begin as sort of cloudy electricity fields, and later turn into planet surfaces as you reach the alien homeworld in your spaceship. Little doors open to reveal gun turrets, colour cycling creates a spooky atmosphere, and everything casts shadows on whatever's below.

And in structure, XP8 is textbook vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up: five baddies, and big motherships.

But playing XP8 is rather like hoovering the sitting room. Mostly it's just a case of watching the carpet roll by below, and little bits of dust disappearing up the nozzle. Occasionally there'll be a stubborn clump of fluff, which can either be scrubbed at until it, too, comes away, or just left and forgotten till next time. Meanwhile, 95% of one's mind is elsewhere, wondering for tea or how it is till Cardiac Arrest starts.

The trouble is, I just don't care what happens next. If I kill an alien, great. If I don't, well, so what? There'll be another one just like it along in a minute. Bullets fly towards me in an entirely predictable manner, characterless metallic spaceships float about the screen, some asteroids fly in from the side and kill me (not sending me back to the start of a stage or anything, just making me flash slightly and reducing my lives counter by one), and the background oozes past underneath.

At no time do I exclaim "Gosh! That's clever" or "Grr, he'll pay for that" or "The alien homeworld must be destroyed" or "What a welcome change of pace" or "Things are really hotting up now" or "I wasn't expecting that!" or "Ugh" or anything other than "Tch" and "Phrrrrw".

Just like it along in a minute

Beefier sound effects might have been an idea. Even through the powerful loud-speakers of my Sony television set, exploding aliens sound like waves breaking gently on the shore of a tropical island, and end-of-level bosses like a grandmother coughing in her sleep.

Music is restricted to the menu screens, where a funereal rendition of the theme from Rhubarb & Custard played at half-speed lures the prospective player towards coma.

Now, although many might consider the absence of music and advantage, a scrolling shoot-'em-up really does need some kind of backing track, both to fill up the gaps between waves of aliens and to change sinisterly to herald the approach of tricky bits.

The extra weapons, too, are terribly disappointing. You begin by firing laser rounds and by collecting power-ups, can upgrade these to slightly different coloured-laser rounds and, later, laser rounds which wobble about a bit.

Even ten years ago scrolling shoot-'em-ups offered bombs, homing missiles, mega-death-rays and super-power-ups that send rockets shooting off in all directions, all accompanied by enormous explosions. In XP8 you've just got your wobbly laser, along with little puffs of explosion that look like carnations and granny coughing a bit.

Sometimes the screen will flash brighter and shake about, which is good, but not really enough. Because the weapons are all so boring there's little incentive to collect power-ups, and they're just about the only reason to kill baddies. As a result, I frequently found myself idly weaving between formations of baddies, not bothering to shoot them at all.

XP8 would scarcely be £20 wasted. It is beautiful to look at and well-behaved and, if the temptation to fiddle with difficulty levels and passwords can be resisted, ought to breathe a few extra hours of life into any Amiga.

It is only really, however, a collection of interesting special effects encasting the most rudimentary of games, and entirely fails to inspire any of the raw excitement that a shoot-'em-up should. Initially it seemed great, but the more I played it the unhappier I became.

I speak for all of AMIGA POWER when I wish the curiously-named Weathermine Software luck. They have clearly ot the better of the Amiga, and have put everything they've got inot making XP8. What they need to do now is get on board someone who really knows what makes games tick.


ALthough XP8 has its failings, it does, at least, manage to steer clear of irritating contempts of Kangaroo Court, and comes across as generally 'friendly'. Much of this can be attributed to its cleverly extensive range of options.

XP8 AGA: Options Menu 1
Here, for example, you can type in passwords to hop from level to level, and alter the difficulty level.

XP8 AGA: Options Menu 2
You can even decide how many lives you begin with, and whether or not you lose power-ups when you die. Of this we approve.

XP8 AGA logo AGA

Price: £19.99 Publisher: Weathermine See boxout below

A cross between Banshee and Stardust. It must be good then?

XP8 arrived in a plastic bag with a small manual and four disks. It was sent to me by the producers and sellers of the game, Weathermine Software. They are an independent developer dedicated to Amiga and are determined to make a go of it themselves.

They've produced a vertical shoot 'em up that makes no pretences at originality. The story follows the discovery of an unknown alien probe in space. The craft sent to investigate mysteriously gets destroyed, and a space fighter (you) is quickly assigned to attack the aliens.

According to Weathermine there are five huge, sprawling, vertically scrolling levels with normal and combined two-player modes, featuring morphing ships and over 50 intelligent, ray-traced enemy ships. This sounds all very interesting but isn't that the standard we expect for shoot 'em ups in the nineties?

The blurb continues by mentioning 128 colours, true-colour shadows and 50 fames per second update. This all sounds hunky-dorey, but is the gameplay really that good?

Weathermine draw inspiration from Core Design's lovely Banshee and the frantic but magnificent Swiv. Both of which are two of the best examples of classic Amiga vertical shoot 'em ups. Weathermine themselves told me "It's basically Banshee with sugared Stardust on top" Which would be fine were I about to eat it, but I'm not.

You've got to have an AGA machine to play XP8 although Weathermine tell me that they are currently beavering away on a version that will work on non-AGA machines with 1Mb. Fast scrolling has never really been a problem for an Amiga - and it's smooth on this game.

XP8, like Stardust, benefits from the use of ray-traced graphics and it looks like a bit of imagination has gone into the game design and features. I like the fact that you can play two players simultaneously and even jump on your mate's back by morphing your two ships together! And blow me down if the screen doesn't shake too as you take-out the bigger ships.

Power ups
Some ships carry power ups for you to sue and there are eight fiendishly disruptive weapons available too. You can change the weapon or power up by shooting the icon released by exploding ships.

As well as the danger posed by alien craft there are also stray meteors, cannon armed turrets, walls and other obstacles that you can crash into. There are also massive end-of-level ships that are so big and zippy, they'll eat you and spit you out without a second thought - unless you're any good that is.

The playing screen extends left and right just like Banshee and Swiv gicing you twice the playing area and this is very helpful for avoiding head-on collisions.

It's hard to improve on the old classics in this genre, and to find a shoot 'em up that is original these days is no mean feat. XP8 is good but sometimes it just gets too hot for its own good. Even though the screen extends, there's still almost too much going on at times and it's difficult to judge where you're at, especially in two-player mode.

It's also too samey in the playability stakes - and there is definitely room for improvement here if a sequel (XP16 perhaps) is planned.

Oh joy! ... pad
It's hard-disk installable and you can opt to use a joypad if you wish: instead of smashing your spacebar to smithereens because you wanted to change weapons you just press the relevant button. The music in the game is, to say the very least, unusual for a shoot 'em up. It just lacks the sort of atmosphere needed to create real excitement in the game.

This two-man team has to be congratulated in producing a good, competent shoot 'em up. The Amiga needs people like this and it shows that there is a lot of talent out there. But they are selling it for £19.99, which might represent a necessary living wage for a small company, but is still a bit overblown for what the game offers.

If it was half the price it would warrant a mark in the mid eighties. As a shareware title it would be up there in the nineties, such is the appeal. But it's just not a full price type of game: it only imitates one.

In the final analysis XP8 won't set the world alight but if you're looking for something more creative and challenging than the current PD offerings then check it out. It's still the best new game of its type about.