Friday, 31 October 2014

X-Force is out!

31st October 2014

Over the past few months or so. I have been working hard on my first ever horizontal scrolling futuristic blaster in co-op with Saul Cross. We are very pleased with the overall result. X-Force is finally finished and has been released on the Commodore Format Archive Power Pack tape 63 project. If you want to know where to get it from. Here's the link:

Commodore Format Archive - Power Pack 63

or for the Trance version on Disk or Tape image, please visit this page below:

The New Dimension - Games-X

What is this game all about?. Well basically it is a horizontal scrolling shoot 'em up, in which you have are on planet Darx. You were mining for minerals in which could be used in the future to build a shield to protect Earth from future alien invasion. Unfortunately, after a hard day's work you decide to fall asleep in your X-Force ship. Suddenly a mother ship approaches over the X-Force fighter and beams it up. Assorted aliens carry you out of the X-Force ship and seal you into a large glass cell. After you wake up, you find yourself trapped. Rather than panic, you unzip your jacket, and reach for the inside pocket. You pick up your laser and blast yourself free. Alarms start going off. You find your X-Force fighter ship and flee off to the exit. As you escape the alien HQ, the aliens follow you ... big time.

Talking about the tape loader:

The first version of the game uses the CF Special tape loader, which I created exclusively for the Commodore Format Archive Power Pack project. I also turned this loader system into Thunderload 7, on the latest TND contributors releases. In which uses the TND logo, and a bit extra programming.Darkland used Halloween themed sprites over the scroll text, whereas the game Rabid Robots used animated stars.

The second tape loader for the second version was in fact a rushed done job today. Since there was no loading picture available for the game. I decided on doing a very simple loading presentation. I took a look at Mastertronic's Dynamix tape loader. It used a simple loading screen with a black border with light blue thin loading stripes. So I decided to base the idea on a similar style. The X-Force logo, with credits. I used Martin Piper's usual turbo tape loader source, worked on a quick tune, for loading and then put it all together. Boot loader with black and red thin stripes, and main loader with black and dark blue thin stripes. The loader plays some trance music in the background, quite similar to the Trance Sector loader theme tune.

The front end:

Saul had originally sent me the front end graphics and suggested that I should use raster bars over the text. I always hated coding raster bars, due to the fact that I have to spend a lot of time timing them. Sometimes I can hardly see the flickering of each raster on screen since I used an LED TV for a monitor. The raster bars scroll up through the text giving a nice effect. Luckily the effect turned out pretty smart, but thankfully the raster bars got fixed by NTSC fixer, Dirk Schmitt.

The music:

There are actually two different music versions of the same game. The first version features the music by Feekzoid which was originally written for horizontal scrolling shoot 'em up, Breakthrough by Jon Wells. After playing the game preview, I was really desperate to hear the news about the game becoming a full release. Sadly it never happened. So I asked Jon nicely if I could use the music for this game. Permission was granted. The second version featured music composed by me. It featured thumping trance sound tracks in the game.

Playing the game:

Using a joystick in port 2, you must guide your X-Force ship across 16 different underground zones of the hostile planet Darx. In order to escape, you must cross through each treacherous zone. Each zone is heavily powered by laser gates, which will switch on or off. You won't be alone, as the aliens will be ready to ram into your ship, should you or an alien crash into each other. Or you crash into any power gates or other background, you will lose a ship. If you have more than one ship at your disposal, at losing a ship. You will be able to quickly construct a new ship. Otherwise if the last ship explodes, you will die.


During the journey through each zone, there are pods with some form of mineral in which will help you improve or reduce the abilities of the ship. The coloured pods are as follows:

Pink - Single bullet power up/power down
Green - Double bullet power up/power down
Blue - Power up shield for a short period of time
Yellow - Warp distance activated for a short period of time
Grey - Avoid those at all cost, it will cost you a life. It's a deadly mine.

At the end of each stage will be an end of level boss. You can either kill it (requires 30 hits) or let it move past. Should the boss spot you, it will fire lasers to get you out of its way. Each levels boss has a different sequence of firing lasers. If you destroy it, an extra life will be rewarded. Should you let it pass, level will complete, but you won't receive any extra lives.

The worlds:

Saul Cross suggested that for each level each world should have a BEFORE and AFTER theme to it. The first and second worlds contain the mine theme, but then enters the ruins. Level 3 and 4 takes you through the ruins, to a technological world. I do remember asking Saul for some worlds based on crystals and vegetation. Level 7 has a nice crystal world, and levels 10 and 11 has a world of vegetation. The final level is a final mine before the player can escape. The colour schemes for each level were set according Saul's example maps which I received near to the time of the submission deadline for the Power Pack 63 project.


X-Force was inspired by Hewson's Subterranea, where as the enemy boss stage was inspired a bit by Powerama by The Power House and Hewson. Although Powerama was a vertical scrolling shoot 'em up. Some alien ideas were inspired by Gradius/Nemesis by Konami.

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