America is under threat from a terrorist organisation who have secretly placed an armed space station in orbit. Unless their demands are met, the station's full destructive power is to be turned on a number of unspecified American cities.
Only one course of action remains: to send a pilot, flying the X-15 spaceplane into orbit to seek out and destroy the space station. That pilot... is you.
After a mission briefing from the Pentagon, containing the vital access code for the space station, the mission begins. The X-15 is flown through three levels of the atmosphere, eventually reaching outer space. Each level has its own brand of enemy craft, including missile-firing helicopters, jets and killer satellites which are all destroyed by accurate shooting. Cruise missiles, however, are immune to the X-15's armoury, and are avoided by rapidly climbing or diving.
Once the space station becomes visible, placing the cross hairs over the station's centre is met with a prompt to input the access code given at the start of the mission. Successful code entry prompts the launch of the excursion module, which has to be flown through a mass of asteroids in order to successfully land on the station's surface.
On landing, a group of remote control robots disembark and are guided across the station surface in order to seek out and connect with the exterior weapon systems. Once a droid is securely interfaced, it is then ordered to self-destruct, effectively disabling that particular system. When all the weapon systems have been destroyed, the last robot is then directed to the central power system where the station finally explodes.
After John Van Ryzin's previous effort, HERO, I expected something a mite special.
All the ingredients are there, but while the graphics and style of the game are quite polished, the repetitive nature and lack of variety lead to a swiftly diminishing interest.
The graphics are clever, with some pretty nippy vectors, but the X-15's all-important lasers are inaccurate. Helicopters and jets can only be destroyed when they appear full size; blasting an approaching dot is useless.
Both sections do hold a challenge of sorts, but the shallow nature of the game becomes apparent on repeat plays. I really don't think that X-15 Alpha Mission holds very much in the lastability stakes - I'm bored with it already.
Behind the fanciful plot of X-15 Alpha Mission lies a reasonable shoot-'em-up. Fighting through the levels requires a lot of skill and endurance, with the killer satellites proving the toughest opponents as you near the space station.
The simplistic vector-style graphics are effective and well executed. Sound effects are a rarity though, with the tunes and effects proving totally unsuitable. The lack of variety between the first three levels, both in gameplay and graphics, makes it rather tedious to play, and once completed, there isn't much of an incentive to warrant another attempt.
After reading the scenario on the inlay, I had high hopes. However, they were soon dashed after a couple of sessions. Although the program is very slick, with some great graphics and clever effects, the gameplay isn't very exciting.
There is a challenge there, but the action is so repetitive it's hardly worth persevering with.
If programmer John Van Ryzin had put a little more thought into the game design, X-15 Alpha Mission might have been good, but as it stands, there just isn't enough to warrant the £10 price tag.
Annoying delay at the beginning, but otherwise decent.
Extremely quick vector graphic enemy craft, but fairly average thereafter.
Uninspiring title music and in-game effects.
After the compulsory (and somewhat tedious) lift-off sequence, the first shoot-'em-up section provides moderate excitement.
Once the first section is mastered, the second second shouldn't provide too much of a hurdle for the hardened gamester.
A brave attempt at a strategy/shoot-'em-up, which unfortunately falls short of the mark.