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  | ETHAL  \ CESS                                                 website review
                                                         by Havoc/FUN Industries

Most Atari sceners will probably remember the game "Lethal Xcess" by Eclipse
Software Design. About a decade after it was initially released, some of it's
original authors have decided to make a memorial website for the game and they
are also planning updated and expanded versions. This may sound a bit strange
if you don't know the game and it's background, but after reviewing the website
it becomes obvious the main reason is nostalgia. Let's take a closer look at the
website and it's content.

The main page is divided in two sections. There's a large menu covering the left
side of the screen which opens several sections in the right part of the screen.
The graphics used in the menu are nicely designed but somewhat repetitive. On
the starting page we can see that updates are made quite regularly, the last one
at the moment of writing was only two days ago.

First section in the index is the Gallery. Some photographs of the Lethal Xcess
creators can be seen here, two animated sprites, a levelboss and a screenshot
are used as graphics and some interesting comments are included. This section
looks a little bit thin for a gallery, and it is surprising that they chose to
show just a few and certainly not their best graphics.

A lot more cool graphics can be seen in the Levelmaps section. It delivers
exactly what it promises: full levelmaps for all five levels of Lethal Xcess.
Obviously this is very interesting material for anyone interested in ST gaming
and more specifically the graphic design side of it. However, if you have
spent hours ripping all the graphics from the original game like I did, it is
rather annoying to see these maps appear on your screen at the press of a
button. ;-)

There is a "hidden screen" in this section by the way- look for the little
XTroll logo in the level 2 map, or if you can't be bothered to do that, load
the source html into an editor and search for "xtroll". After clicking or
copy/pasting, you will see a section dedicated to XTroll. This was the demo
crew in which some authors of the game participated before they
commercialised their efforts.

The Jukebox section offers the original game musics from the different platforms
Lethal Xcess was developed for. If you can find the right replayers, this is a 
very interesting section as the collection seems to be very complete. It's a
little disappointing to see the lack of mention of ST/Falcon replayers though.

Next is a section called "Cheats". Your editor has no idea what this 
strange section could be useful for, if you choose to cheat in a game what is 
the point in playing the game at all? By the way, it was cool to play level 4 
and 5 and not only rip the gfx from them after 10 years! ;-)

The Tech Info section offers an article about the technical tricks used to make
the game possible. The explanation is pretty clear and I suppose most senior
sceners will have no problem understanding it, it is however mostly something
for the codeheads among us.

In the Press section a number of reviews of the game is included. A lot of them
are in German, but there's also a good deal of English language content here
and even one or two words in French. The completeness of this section is 

You can read the original story accompanying the game in the Story section, it
was written by Richard Karsmakers of ST News fame. It's amazing to see how
much well-written nonsense he can think of for this game without a story! :-)

The Download section doesn't offer any downloads for Atari machines, but you
can find a link to a cracked version that should be playable on the real deal.
Obviously it would be much more interesting for Atarians if we could download a
full original copy here, and some archives with the graphics that are scattered
around the site would also be nice.

If you're wondering who were behind the original version of the game, the
Credits section provides you with an answer. Conveniently all involved sceners
are listed with both their real and scene names so you can easily check out if
any of your friends or contacts were involved.

Some interesting information is provided in the Projects section. Apparently an
improved version of the ST game is planned- this would ofcourse be very
interesting for any ST game freak. But also this section teaches us that the
authors are planning to actively develop a new Lethal Xcess for peecee (argh!)
and possibly Gameboy Advance. I really wonder why these guys bother with lame
platforms like winpc at all- ok, so it is the biggest platform on the market
today. But anyone can do great shoot em ups on this machine, even a stupid Dutch
graphician can code one in just a few days. So why not skip working on a pc-dad
version and concentrate on the Atari/Amiga/GBA versions? In these markets the
game would kick ass, on pc it would just be a gimmick.

The Links section provides us with quite a decent amount of links related to
Lethal Xcess and game and demo creation in general. And last but not least, 
there's also the possibility to write an email to the authors by clicking 
on the Contact section.

VERDICT: If you like ST gaming in general, or the game Lethal Xcess was one of
your favourites, you really shouldn't miss this site. Some inconsistencies can
be noticed in various places, but as this site is being updated quite regularly
I suppose we can expect improvements in the near future. And certainly the
content that's already there is more than you need to justify a visit. The only
major annoyance when viewing this site is the presupposed emulator use- not
putting stuff online only because it doesn't run on STeem sounds rather lame to

GRAPHICS:    80% (mostly ripped from the game but what else to expect? ;))
INFORMATION: 85% (lots of cool information for the real addicts)
DESIGN:      60% (the pages are rather simple though functional)
DOWNLOADS:   50% (more support for real ST please!)
OVERALL:     69% (a few slight improvements to go and this will go 80+ surely!)

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