The Extirpator! (Atari 8-bit)

The Extirpator! Atari 8-bit Title screen


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Developed by
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Written by  :  Wurtzly (1092)
Written on  :  Oct 28, 2018
Rating  :  2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars
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The inverse of Transmuter

The Good

I have recently reviewed another obscure Atari 8-bit shoot-em-up with a silly word for a title (whatever transmuting means), and there I mentioned the lack of scrolling games on the platform. This brings to another one that interests/disappoints me, for the opposite reasons.

One half of the reasons is the execution, and it can be complimented. The graphics are not exactly what I would call pretty, but it's well crafted, and shows the better side of the system. The colors are juggled in a way that it obscures the limitations. The sprites are moving swiftly. The background scrolls nicely, and it has multiple layers in a fake parallax effect. I assume the programming behind it is well done.

The title music is a Pokey-chip remix of Rob Hubbard's Sanxion Loader/Thalamusic from the C64. Neat! And aside that there is your daily dose of obligatory Atari noises. Everything should explode with an Atari sound effect!

The Bad

But the other half of the reasons is, that the game is not very interesting. Under the good looks it's more like an early 80s game, and not a very good one. It is mind-numbingly simple and repetitive. The challenge is on your patience, how long are you willing sit by it.There are no power-ups. The levels are the same, never mind the changing background graphics, they just get longer and and the enemies get faster. New-looking enemies appear here and there, they are just as useless ballasts as the old ones. And by the way, what are supposed to be the enemies? I see red beach balls, weird looking flies, and abstract cartoon whales, haha!

If we accept that the game is behind its time, then the criticism is this. The sprite of your plane is way too big (an armed passenger plane?). It's a huge, controls clumsily, it just begs to get hit, good thing there is a health bar. But when you find out you can just move to the top of the screen and stay there, then the game gets ridiculously easy! Most of the things will just pass under you! The plane automatically descents when you are not moving it, but what stops you holding it to the top?

One more annoyance, your weapon can overheat and so your firing rate decreases. Thats exactly what you don't need to an already slow moving big plane.

The Bottom Line

Mediocrity one way and another. Surely, Zybex exists to redeem for one, but we could have a better executed Transmuter. Or a more interesting Extirpator.