Company: Atari
Model #:
Year: 1990
Based on the 1987 Bally Midway Coin-op


The dictionary defines a Xenophobe as a person prone to xenophobia (xenophobia being the fear of strangers or foreigners).  In the case of this game, a Xenophobe is someone who fears aliens, and for good reason.  Aliens have infested space stations across the galaxy and it's your job to wipe the out.  Sound easy?  Well just remember,  these guys ain't E.T.!


Port of the 1987 arcade game by Bally Midway, Xenophobe was revolutionary at the time of its release as it supported three people simultaneously, each with a split screen display.  Although the playfield for each player had to be shrunk down to accommodate this, it allowed each player to go his separate way without the fear of getting pushed off the edge of the screen.  Xenophobe also featured highly detailed graphics and an assortment of items and tools to pick up and use.


The Atari 2600 version features nine different space stations to explore, each with a different number of levels (from one to five).  As you roam each station, you will undoubtedly come across several wacky looking aliens that must be destroyed (referred to as Xenos):

Pods are generally harmless masses that will hatch into Critters if they are left alone too long
Critter This is your basic "facehugger" type alien.  These little guys hatch from pods and crawl across the floor until they touch you and then cling to your body.  Once a Critter is attached it will slowly suck out your energy until it is flung off.  To fling off a Critter, rapidly push down until it lets go. If a Critter is left untouched long enough it will grow up into a Snotterpillar.
Tentacle Tentacles, as you may have guessed, are large tentacles that come out from the ceiling and will grab the player if they get too close.  Once you've been grabbed by a Tentacle you must rapidly shake left and right to get it to release you.
Rollerbaby One of the more annoying alien types in the game.  Rollerbabies crawl across the floor for short distances and then curl up into balls that can't be destroyed except by grenades.  To destroy a Rollerbaby, you must wait for it to uncurl and then shoot it quickly (or lob a grenade at it).  If a Rollerbaby is shot while in ball form it will roll across the room and bounce off doors.  This can cause it to hit you cause major damage.
Snotterpillar A nightmarish cross between a caterpillar, lizard, and an armadillo, Snotterpillars are at the top of the Xeno pecking order.  These nasty suckers not only spit damaging snot at you, but like to jump and knock you down as well.  Snotterpillars also have the annoying habit of producing Pods when left alone too long, so take them out quickly before the station is overrun by Xenos!  Snotterpillars take several shots to destroy, so try and attack them at a distance.


To aid you in your Xeno splattering exploits, there are a number of different weapons to be found scattered across the space stations:

Fists If you drop your gun or it gets destroyed by an attacking Xeno, you will be reduced to using your puny fists of rage.  Close range and not very powerful, fists are the worst weapon in the game... or are they?
Phaser This is your starting weapon.  The Phaser shoots an average distance, but is incredibly weak.  Try and upgrade to the Laser Pistol as soon as possible.
Laser Pistol The Laser Pistol is a huge upgrade from the Phaser.  Not only does it shoot farther, but it's twice as strong.
Electric Gun The Xeno hunters weapon of choice since 2158.  The Electric gun doesn't shoot as far as the Laser Pistol, but it's much more powerful.
Poofer Gun The Poofer Gun is the most powerful weapon in the game, but its range is severely limited.  Recommended for kamikaze types only
Grenades You will find these scattered throughout the game.  To lob a grenade, hold down and press the button.  Grenades are very powerful, but hard to aim and can damage you along with the Xenos if you're not careful.  Lob one into a group of enemies and watch the carnage!


There are a number of items you can pick up for points or health scattered through the space stations including a rope, skull, screwdriver, knife, burger, paper, and flask.  Unfortunately some of the more useful items such as the jet pack, transporter card, door key, and the laser control key card have been removed from the 2600 version of the game due to space and memory reasons.


To successfully clear a stage, you must either wipe out all the Xenos, or destroy the station by pressing up while in front of the self destruct panel (you'll need to find the paper with the code on it first).  Not all stations have self destruct mechanisms and you will not receive any bonuses if you take the easy way out, so be careful.  The stage can also end when the station becomes overrun by Xenos, so make sure you're actively hunting down those alien scum.  Also note that Xenos like to move around, so just because you've cleared out one level doesn't mean more won't appear there.  You may have to backtrack several times to make sure you've found them all.


The Atari 2600 version of Xenophobe is pretty impressive for a late release but some compromises had to be made to fit it into a 16K cartridge.  While the screen still retains the divided sections for each player the game now alternates between players during two player mode.  Apparently asking the poor 2600 to support a simultaneous two player mode was a bridge too far.  The graphics also received the requisite downgrade, but are decent enough given the limitations of the system although the backgrounds are rather sparse and the sprites will flicker when more than one enemy is on the screen.  The music on the other hand, while recognizable, sounds horribly off key.  Thankfully you'll only hear it at the start and end of each level.  One odd quirk with this version of Xenophobe is that your fist, normally the weakest weapon, is actually quite deadly thanks to the rapid fire feature.  Just get your character close to a huge Snotterpillar and hold down the fire button and you'll be whacking Xenos like a prizefighter in no time.


Although the arcade game was only mildly popular, Xenophobe was ported over to all of Atari's systems including the 2600, 7800, ST, and Lynx.  There was also a version made for the Atari XE but it was unreleased.  Late arcade ports like Xenophobe show that Atari wasn't quite ready to give up on the 2600 even though the market at the time was dominated by the NES (and to a lesser extend the SMS).  While it won't win any awards for looks, Xenophobe for the 2600 plays well enough and must have been a nice surprise to gamers who were still not ready to move on to new systems.


Version Cart Text Description
8/6/90 Xenophobe C300046-172A 2600 PAL 8/6/90
Final Version (PAL)


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