Side scrolling shooters. A genre that used to rule the roost in gaming, no matter what platform you gamed on, there was probably more than a handful of side scrolling shooters (unless it was a 3DO, CD-i or Playdia that is). From the likes of Nemesis II on the Game Boy to Thunder Force III on the Sega Genesis, this genre was bursting at the seams. What happened? I am not quite sure. Scrolling shooters in general have fallen from their high pedestal, though some gems are still released for newer platforms (if you are into “bullet hell” variations). X-Force reminds us that the Commodore 64 can rock this genre just as well today as it could in the 80’s.
X-Force features 16 levels of side scrolling, alien blasting powerup grabbing obstacle avoiding gameplay. This is how shooters used to be. Saul Cross is responsible for the graphics you will see in X-Force, his style is distinct and works quite well on the limited hardware of the Commodore 64. The interesting thing about X-Force is, this is the first game by developer Richard Bayliss, quite a feat to say the least.
The story of X-Force is the usual background text that you can ignore if you are just wanting to blast things and don’t care why. For those that do care why they are blasting those creatures from another universe to atoms read on.
You are a mining transport ship working off of the planet Darx. These minerals are useful in building a shield for the planet Earth, a shield that can protect the inhabitants from an alien invasion. The next part of the story is almost parallel to that of Alternate Reality (a classic role playing game also available for Commodore 64 and many other computers)- you are abducted by aliens and put in a glass prison. Through sheer luck that would make Indiana Jones blush with embarrassment, you have the necessary tools to escape and find your ship which you use to mount a retaliation effort.
Interestingly, in X-Force you don’t necessarily have to beat the end of level bosses. You have the option to destroy them or simply allow them to pass without obstruction. There is no word on what happens if you simply let them pass- such as do they come back and attack en masse? A question only the best players will be able to answer.
X-Force by Richard Bayliss
Platform: Commodore 64
Genre: Side scrolling shooter
Available now at TND64.unikat.sk