Designed by Raffaele Cecco and published by Hewson Consultants in 1987, Exolon is a simple-but-effective run-and-gun shooter with flick-screen levels and snazzy Spectrum-esque colourful graphics, with minimal colour clash.
You control a lone futuristic soldier who is fighting his way from left to right across a variety of hazard-filled landscapes. The soldier can jump, crouch, shoot and fire rockets from his backpack, and these create some fairly impressive explosions when they’re used against parts of the scenery. There are teleport doors that warp you to different parts of the screen if used.
Hazards include homing missiles, gun turrets, tanks, landmines, swarming pods, laser barriers, and crushers that shoot out of the ground. Part way through a level the soldier can enter a pod to upgrade to an armoured exoskeleton with improved weapons and armour, but if you can complete the level without doing that you’re awarded a bonus.
After completing a level you then get a bonus screen where you have to press fire to stop a moving arrow on a range of bonus points. A bit like a fruit machine. An extra life is given after competing each level, unless you already have the full quota of nine.
There are five levels and 120 screens of action to fight through, before cycling back to the beginning again.
Exolon was well-received when it was first released and was later converted to the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST and Enterprise 128. Although Exolon is limited in terms of gameplay it is highly-polished, playable and still fun to play now.