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Amiga Power Review

Issue 25/ May 1993
Authors: Mark Winstanley, Stuart Campbell

Amiga Power - Issue 25/1993

Lethal Xcess

A vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up and a real blast from the past. It's lethal alright, but is it just too much to handle?

STUART: Hey, this takes me back a bit. We haven't seen a good old simple vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up since, ooh, as far back as I can remember, Warzone (from Core) back in issue 2. It's not that surprising, really - the vertical scroller is something of a relic these days, even the Mega Drive (where pretty much every game that isn't a platformer is a scrolling shoot-'em-up almost never bothers with the format any more. Still, it's not an inherently limited format - SWIV proves there's no barrier to a vertical scroller being brilliant if you can handle it right.

MARK: Mm, but there's something about Lethal Xcess that makes you look at it and go "Yeah, I've played this one before, is it out on budget now?" even though it's a new release. I think the reason must be that, despite the totally adequate game mechanics (smooth scrolling, no slow down despite huge waves of attacking enemies on screen) and pretty graphics, the entire game's got an archaic aura around it, stirring long-forgotten memories of yesteryear.

STUART: Hang on a minute, there's nothing wrong with yesteryear. Some of my best friends are ancient arcade games...

MARK: Have you ever spent all day looking forward to going to the fair? The day drags by, you dash home and scoff your dinner down while the 130 gigawatt speakers of the distant Waltzer thump away to annoy your mum. It goes dark, you dash down to see the flashing lights, and as you get closer, the smells of diesel fumes and candy floss mingle together to create the definitive smell that yells 'Fun Time!' at every fibre of your body.


MARK: And then you get there, and it's all completely crap. The attendants hassle you for the right change and make suggestive remarks to your girlfriend, the most exciting element of your Big-Wheel ride is praying that the bolt holding you to the rickety frame doesn't break when you're at the top, and the candy floss is sickly sweet in a way you'd forgotten it could be. Disillusioned by rides that squeak alarmingly and pin you against your friends using excessive amounts of centrifugal force, you head to the arcade, which looks like a Portakabin bedecked in fairy lights. Getting closer, you discover that it actually IS a Portakabin bedecked in fairy lights, and that all the best games are surrounded by great crowds of children who may be smaller than you, but have the advantage of superior numbers. You pass the sad cases playing the wheezing and ancient fruit machines, and finally get to the back, the elephant's graveyard of arcade games. Okay, so most of them don't work and half of them take your ten pee without giving you a game, but they're the originals, the classics, the games that inspired all others. This is the dusty, slightly pongy place that you think you've seen Lethal Xcess before. Yuk.

STUART: Ooh, you MTV kids. At least you still only have to put ten pee in. Arcade games these days, 50p a go, mumble mutter mumble.

MARK: Yeah, Stu, and a Lada only costs a fifth as much as a Porsche. Which would you rather drive, honestly?

STUART: Mark, that's a crap analogy. Which is best, a zebre or a pomegranate?

MARK: Sorry?

STUART: Exactly. But we're getting off the point. This is the follow-up to Wings Of Death, a pretty fabby little zapper released by Thalion a few years ago now. Now, Wings Of Death looked great for its time, but the main problem with Lethal Xcess is that it looks exactly the same.

MARK: No, I disagree.

STUART: What, you mean you don't think it looks exactly the same?

MARK: No, I think that's not the main problem. This is the hardest game I think I've ever played - I've been at it two days now and I'm still on the first level, and that's at 'Easy'. Thinking about what it's going to be like later on is scaring me - and I like guns.

STUART: And I'm a BMX Bandits fan, but I got halfway through level two on my forth go. Come on, Mark, you got stuck on the first level of Videokid.

MARK: Hey, that's a hard game!

STUART: Yeah, right. You DO have a point, though - Lethal Xcess is probably the hardest shoot-'em-up I've played since Project X, and losing all your power-ups when you die, after it taking such a long time to build up any decent ones, is big-time frustrating. But at least it's fair - there's no slack playtesting here, everything that kills you, you at least get to see first. Would you rather have yet another game you can finish the same day you buy it? Or are you [DRAMATIC PAUSE] some kind of jessie?

MARK: Are you calling my pint a puff?

STUART: What's it to you if I am?

MARK: Outside, now.



STUART: The power-up method of choosing the same type of icon to increase your firepower is a nice idea, and the smart bombs at the start of every new life saves you getting stuck on the same bit every time. A good, solid, no-holds-barred vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up...

MARK: ...for people whose reaction time can be measured in picoseconds. Unlike Stuart, it's just too hard. Uninspired, too.

MARK: Lethal Xcess is nowhere near as entertaining as SWIV, so why should you bother buying a second-rate vertically-scrolling blaster, when there's a better one available? With the screen filled with huge enemies who trash you before you can pump enough shots into them, no shields, no smart bombs and only one continue, this game quickly stops being challenging and just gets annoying. Unless you're heavily into one-dimensional shooting games that approach the 'totally impossible' level of difficulty, you're never going to see anything past level two.

STUART: Well, (like Mark) it's pretty nasty-minded and it's certainly no SWIV, but if you want a serious test of your shoot-'em-up skills, this is the stiffest for a long time.


MARK: It's the same - choose the 'enhanced display' and 'disable CPU cache' options.


©1993 Amiga Power

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I saved this review from the google-archive, the original site was still dead at this time. It was located at the following URL: http://www.btinternet.com/~amigapower/25/lethal.htm if you are the author of this site, please feel free to contact me to get your credits and a link to your site.

It would be great, if anybody could deliver a high-resolution scan of this review or the magazine cover.

A lot of info on Amiga Power could be found at the AP2-site.

Lethal Xcess aka Wings of Death II a classic shoot'em up for Atari ST(E) and Amiga computers was developed by Claus Frein and Heinz Rudolf, Music by Jochen Hippel, Producer Marc Rosocha.


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All files on the Lethal Xcess Website copyright © 2001 Heinz Rudolf
Lethal Xcess copyright © 1991 Eclipse Software Design.
Wings of Death copyright © 1990 Thalion Software.
ST/Amiga Soundtracks copyright © 1990/1991 Jochen Hippel.
Cybernetics Font copyright © 1991 Jérôme Hubert.
C64 Graphics © 1992 Oliver Lindau
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This page has been updated 10.01.2005