This arcade game fails because although it has simple gameplay, it’s not been programmed well enough to function properly. For instance, there’s no limit on how many enemies can spawn.
Type: Single-Player, Co-op
Release date: 22 August, 2019
In what seemed like deja vu, out of the blue a developer offered me a copy of this game when it was being launched, which happened a short time after the same thing had happened with The Ploshers (TP). XEYYEX (XY) had a striking similarity to TP, so I asked the person who messaged me about it, yet they denied any association between them. I’ve checked both store pages on Steam, and they list themselves under different developer and producer names. Though there seems to be more than just a coincidental similarity between the visuals and how these two times are the only cases where I’ve gotten an unsolicited key from a developer, I have no basis to suggest they’re from the same people. Strangeness aside, I don’t find XY to have done much better than TP did.
You control an eyeball, which when placed in the maze-like arena of the game, has quite the resemblance to Pacman. Both are round characters, with a small section in the front that’s different from the single color making up the rest. Though moving around the environment is much the same, your objective is nothing like Pacman. In XY, you’ll kill spawning enemies so that they’ll drop X’s, 10 of which allows you to move onto the next stage. There are only 30 in total, so if you can clear them all, you win.
To kill enemies, you’ll fire at them with projectiles, though you have limited ammo. So, as you’re going around fighting enemies, you’ll have to acquire more ammo, as well as time, because there’s a timer that’ll kill you if it reaches zero. Though it’s easier to comprehend all of this as you play, it winds up with you having to keep track of several factors at any given point. Additionally, you can play this game cooperatively, but since I haven’t done so, I’m not sure what changes between playing alone and with someone else.
XY is simple enough to control, though you have the option to play either with the keyboard or a controller. Movement is controlled with the ‘D-pad,’ firing your basic attack is done with ‘X,’ and you activate a bomb by hitting ‘Y.’ Aside from occasional problems getting stuck on a turn or corner, I had no issues with the controls.
With XY functioning as just an arcade game, there isn’t any story shown here. I’m surprised that there isn’t a title screen image or cutscene giving some explanation or motivation for playing, but with this being absent, I wouldn’t think there’d be an ending either.
I find the graphics for XY to be rather bland. The floors and walls are each made up of square tiles, none of which have interesting details or designs. This leads to each arena having 2 kinds of tiles that make up its design, with some of the palettes having color schemes that are ugly or even hard on the eyes. Enemies have lackluster and inconsistent designs, as some look very childlike (TNT with arms and legs), there’s a few that are robotic, and others are animalistic like the spiders and octopi. When several of these disparate enemies spawn in, it looks like a mess, especially when this was a strong point of NES era games.
As you progress through stages, different tracks will play as you go. It might go through them in a predetermined order, though I’m not positive about what factor chooses the next song. None of them are particularly remarkable, but they’re adequate background music for a game of this nature. I do find the somewhat desert-like song a bit strange, though that’s not much of a negative. There aren’t any annoying sound effects in the game, though I do wish there was some kind of audio alert when your time is almost up.
- You don’t have to mash the button fire your attack rapidly. You’re also able to ‘strafe,’ or maintain your fire in a constant direction as you move around.
- There’s local coop available.
- There are too many variables to keep track of. You need to be mindful of how many enemies there are and which areas are becoming troublesome. You have to keep in mind your ammo reserves, because if you run out, you lose your ability to fight back or get past choked-off pathways. You start off with little time, which is an instant kill, so you have to keep that up as well. Plus, even as you run low, the game doesn’t do much to draw this to your attention.
- From my own experience with the game, there’s no ceiling on how many enemies can be on screen at once. If there is a limit, it’s pointlessly high, as I’ve seen at least 25 enemies on screen at once. Considering the layout of the arenas, and how this game relates so much to Pacman, which could challenge players with only 4 enemies, it’s not hard to figure out why this isn’t a great idea.
- The way items spawn in is not well programmed. Power-ups can spawn on top of one another, obstructing their view. I’ve had a timer spawn underneath a letter so I couldn’t see where to get more time, and an enemy spawned underneath an ammo container just as I picked it up.
- There aren’t any options, so you can’t adjust the volume or anything else. You also can’t get out of the game easily until you game over.
- Every enemy you kill only has a chance of giving you 1 of 10 X’s you need to beat the stage.
- At the beginning of each level, while there’s a scant number of enemies around, hoard ammo and time. It’s your best opportunity to stockpile those reserves for later. This is restricted by the size of the mazes, and how there may not be a simple path from one resource you want to the next, but it only gets worse as enemies keep spawning.
- When you die, though your resources restart to the beginning amount, there’s no change in how many enemies there are on the screen. So, if you die because there’s too many enemies around, you wind up in even worse shape. IE, don’t die if you want to win.
- If you really wanted to, you could grind for free lives on the very first stage, when there’s nothing but easy enemies spawning. It’d be annoying to control them sufficiently, but it’d be an opportunity to rack up points by collecting ingots.
I’m surprised the completion rate for the sole achievement for this game is so high, as it requires you to beat the whole game. Based on my single attempt at playing XY, where the timer was hidden by another power-up, and I lost my last life walking head-first into a just spawning enemy underneath an ammo power-up, I won’t make repeated attempts to earn it myself. I wouldn’t enjoy the compact nature of moving around mazes and trying to acquire ammo in XY anyways, but this matter ruins the game for me completely. I don’t recommend XY at all.