XYBOTS / Atari / Arcade

Xybots might not exactly be an FPS, but the FPS world owes this semi-obscure arcade game from 1987 a bit of gratitude. Xybots builds on the concepts of earlier Atari hit Gauntlet, but shoots it into the future and into quasi-3D. One or two players infiltrate a base of Xybots, an evil robot army who has apparently enslaved humanity, in an attempt to wipe 'em all out. The game uses a simplistic simulation of 3D where you can turn the perspective to the right and left 90 degrees at any time, and will need to do so to make it through the Xybot maze and take on the various robot sentinels lying in wait.

Xybots is pretty great all around - great two player action, nice graphics for 1987, the usual great dark ambient Atari sound of the time. The only thing that really brings it down is punishing difficulty. Unlike Gauntlet, you can't "buy in" with more energy at any time, but like Gauntlet, energy ticks down no matter what is going on. You only have 100 possible points here, however, and you lose at a rate of about one per second, so in some levels by the time you've just run down the opening corridor you'll already be down to 90%. When you die, you continue back at the start of the level - so you can be stuck on levels for quite some time, and once you get past the 5th you have to hustle through them and get them nearly perfect to survive with enough energy. I dare say past the 7th level or so you'll be stuck without another player on hand to help work over the enemies quickly. They could have really stood to tone down the difficulty (and scale it up a bit more gradually), but otherwise this is a fantastic arcade classic.

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* Gameplay Video