Xybots was a 1987 3-D arcade shooter made by Atari Games. This title could best be described as a very early version of Doom or Wolfenstein 3D. The graphics are presented in more of a 3rd person viewpoint, but the game has a real first person feel to it (that won't make any sense until you play it yourself).

Xybots didn't have a true 3-D engine, even though Atari had already developed one back in the I, Robot days, instead the game was sprite based, and had a lot of limitations when compared to modern shooters. The biggest problem with the game was that your play area only took up a meager 25 percent of the screen, the rest was used for maps and such. In two player mode each player got 25 percent while maps took up the other 50 percent. This game really should have had a full screen mode of some sort.

The basic idea behind Xybots was to blast aliens and pick up powerups, between levels you could buy more powerups and armor and such, and having extra quarters made the game much easier. This was a great game back in 1987, but it hasn't really stood the test of time. Some genres aren't really helped by the march of technology. All the multi-Ghz processors in the world aren't going to make a better 2D shooter than Galaga, and Moore's Law probably won't ever produce a better maze game than Ms. Pac-Man, but 3D shooters are different. 3D shooters just keep getting better with better technology, and Xybots can't really begin to compete with most of the newer ones.

Xybots came in a very oddly shaped dedicated cabinet that was reddish in color and featured a blue marquee and comic book style graphics of the main characters all over the machine. Atari decided to give a big "screw you" to the JAMMA standard with this title, it is not JAMMA compatible and instead uses almost a dozen different proprietary connectors. Making it a real pain to wire this PCB up from scratch.

This game used a unique 4-Way joystick that could rotate both left and right. No one makes this stick anymore, and there are no suitable replacements on the market. In a pinch you could redo the control panel with different controls that accomplish the same thing .

The best and easiest way to play this title is using the MAME emulator. Normally I suggest using arcade controls, but for this title you are going to want a gamepad with shoulder buttons to simulate the twisting action of the original stick.

Real Xybots machines are usually a bargain. This game is just too much of an oddball for most people, so it can often be found for only around $100 USD (as of Jan 2003). Be sure to check out the joysticks carefully, as there are no proper replacement units available.


This game is coded for 8-Way joysticks but ships with 4-Way ones. I discovered this after playing a real Xybots machine, and then playing it in MAME later that same day.

I own this game in PCB format, but use MAME to play it (legally), since it is not JAMMA compatible.

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