Interpose Xmas Greetings: 1996 Holiday Shmup for DOS

[door closing, footsteps] Yeah, pretty good thrifting I find I gotta
say! [trips, stuff fumbles around]
The heck is that? [sighs, box clunking around] [metallic squeaking] -This does not bode well. [clone wheezing] -Christmaasss! [box opens, background clone noises]
Alright what in — Interpose? [incredulous mumbling]
What in the world is this? C’mon. Oh no. Eugh. Really? Nope! Nope.
Nope, nope, nope! Welp. I think I’ve seen enough. It’s December! That means it’s time
for Christmas Lazy Game Reviews. And he’s behind me, I don’t even care.
I don’t even care anymore! -Christmaaasss! [Carol of the Bells plays] Greetings and welcome to
another month of Christmas LGR! And this year we’re kicking things off with
Interpose X-mas Greetings, developed by Twilight Zone Software and published by Webfoot Technologies
in 1996 for MS-DOS. And for any of you Legacy of Goku fans, yep,
this is the same Webfoot behind those games! In fact you might’ve have seen their name
on any number of titles since the mid-90s. They were quite the prolific publisher of
licensed games for systems like the GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS, not to mention dozens
of mahjongg and card game compilations. They’re still around too, as far as I can
tell, though their website and social media pages haven’t been updated in over a year
at the time of recording. Anyway, before they cranked out dozens of
Dragon Ball Z, Hello Kitty, and My Little Pony games, Webfoot was an old school shareware
publisher, signing independent developers from around the world and distributing their
games online. Games like Twilight Zone Software’s Interpose,
a side-scrolling spaceship shooter for PCs created by a group of talented coders, artists,
and designers out of Sarpsborg, Norway. And dang it, this is one of those shareware
titles that I completely missed out on back in the day, and that just sucks. Scrolling shoot-em-ups were one of my absolute
favorite kinda games to play so Interpose here would’ve been my jam. Knowing there was a scrolling shooter this
well-made that was free to download and I didn’t realize it? It induces a kind of retroactive sadness that’s
hard to describe. Like, I could’ve been playing this awesomeness
but nope, I was playing the shareware version of Space Pilot for the hundredth time instead. [PC speaker bloops]
Oh well. Despite personally missing out on
its entire existence, Interpose seems to have done well for TZS and Webfoot, enough to merit
the release of a second shareware version. That being Interpose X-mas Greetings in December
of 1996. It may sound like the title of a screensaver
package or a greeting card publishing suite, but nope! It’s Interpose yet again, this time with
a holiday makeover. The main menu now features a snow-covered
logo and an ice-covered planet, as well as a Santa hat on our feline protagonist. Yeah you play a cat person defending a whole race of cat people, that’s kind of Interpose’s thing. This Christmas edition doesn’t feature an
expository intro sequence anymore unfortunately, but going back to the regular game real quick,
the plot revolves around an ancient Earth ruled by the Overlynxes. They’re a highly advanced and pacifist species,
with supercomputers and spaceships and all sorts of stuff, living peacefully in harmony
with the universe. Until one fateful day when a far flung alien
race creates a new lifeform: humans. They send a whole buncha dudes, Rambo apparently
included, across the solar system to take over planet Earth and wipe out the Overlynx
population. One brave soul has the paws to fight back
though, jumping into a spaceship loaded with powerful weaponry, and then blasting away
the human invaders without remorse. And it’s this cat guy that you play in Interpose
X-mas Greetings. But instead of an army of Sly Stallones you’re
fending off a slew of Santas. This is the work of the evil scientist known
as Atnas Sualc. As the backwards name implies, this is an
anti-Santa type of fellow, and he’s built his own fighting force of robotic reindeer
and Santa clones. Naturally, his goal is to disrupt the world’s
Christmas gift distribution at the North Pole, and you’ve been tasked with destroying Atnas
Sualc and his cybernetic minions before the real Santa is replaced and Christmas is ruined. All you really need to know though is that
you’re a battle-hardened cat guy with an awesome spaceship, so shoot anything that
moves and try to avoid dying because unlike what you’d expect you do not have nine lives. [holiday music, shooty sounds commence] Straight away it’s clear that the original
Interpose formula hasn’t been altered in any notable way whatsoever. Other than a wintry reskin with snow and presents
lining the landscape, enemies composed of Cyborg Santas and Robo Reindeer, and a new
background tracker tune with Christmassy implications? What you’re left with is a single new level
for Interpose with a seasonal overhaul. And that’s genuinely not a bad thing, because
Interpose was already awesome! Once again, I’m sad that I missed out on
this back when it came out because this is some quality shareware shmupping right here. It takes plenty of cues from classic horizontally
scrolling shooters, with R-Type, Gradius, Zero Wing, and Scramble being the most obvious
to me. You begin with a few lives and a simple cannon
that shoots forward in three directions at once, and along the way you’ll uncover power-ups
and upgrades by taking out enemies. Cannon upgrades augment your ship to the point
where you’re shooting in half a dozen directions at once, and weapon pickups provide an arsenal
that’s far more powerful, with things like straightforward missiles, air-to-surface carpet
bombs, and screen-clearing nukes. But beyond its immediate arcade influences,
Interpose has enough twists on the mechanics of those arcade classics that it’s quickly
granted its own alluring quality. For one thing, touching stationary objects
and terrain won’t kill you, at least not immediately. Your ship simply stops moving and the scrolling
continues until you’re all the way to the left, at which point it’ll warn you you’re
about to die before you explode. There’s also a rechargeable shield system,
granting you multiple direct hits from enemy craft and ammunition before you’re taken
out and lose a life. And finally, your shield, cannon, and weapons
can all be upgraded by visiting shops and spending the money you’ve picked up along
the way. This is the point where I went from simply
appreciating Interpose to deeply enjoying it. These shops provide a much-needed respite
from all the ongoing action, giving you a chance to catch your breath, save your game,
and invest some of that hard-earned cash. The weaponry dispenser on the left doles out
all sorts of goodies, from shield recharges and cannon upgrades, to special one-off weapons
and spaceship add-ons. And a couple of these weren’t found in the
regular shareware version either, so you get a bit more to play with as a result. And if you’ve already got whatcha want,
or you’re simply feelin’ lucky, there’s also a slot machine in the other corner to
tempt your inner compulsive gambler. Augh, I love a good gambling mechanic! Er well, this kind anyway, the kind in old
DOS games that aren’t tied to anything online and ruin the game progression or whatever. Just good old basic slots, fruit machines,
one-armed bandits, coin-operated salary stealers! It’s a fun way to piddle away the money
you picked up from the exploded corpses of your enemies and maybe make a bit more to
spend on guns. Especially since Interpose X-mas is so ridiculously
short. Yeah, it’s only one level. This is effectively a teaser for a shareware
version of a full game, after all. The whole experience only lasts about five
to ten minutes, depending on how often you visit and how long you stay in those checkpoint
shops. And once you reach the final bit of the level
you’ll come to face to face with backwards Santa himself, the only boss in this version
of the game. Simple enough to defeat: dodge his swarms
of projectiles and hit him with enough of yours without dying too much, and there ya
go. The world of cat people can continue celebrating
the holidays as usual, and you’re greeted with the actual x-mas greetings that the title
promised in the first place. High score achieved, order screens commence,
good stuff man, good stuff! And that’s about it for Interpose X-mas
Greetings! It’s a short but sweet little game that
absolutely leaves you wanting more, much more. Making it effective both as a shareware teaser
for the full game, but also as a holiday tie-in that’s not overly holiday-ish. There’s just enough seasonal glitz going
on to get the point across, but it’s not overflowing with obnoxious visuals or cheesy
Christmas music to the point of annoyance. It’s a quality special edition of a pre-existing
quality game and that’s that, putting it right up there with classics like Jazz Jackrabbit
Holiday Hare and Holiday Lemmings. Not only that, but both Interpose and this
Christmas edition have an air of demoscene around it that I absolutely appreciate. Everything from the music, to the art style,
to the animations, to the anti-aliased text, to the fact that it’s called “X-mas Greetings.” Now, “greetings” or “greetz” have
been a staple of demogroup messages and cracktros since the dawn of computerized time, so the
fact that they called this “X-mas Greetings” instead of “X-mas Special Edition” or
whatever? Yeah it all just screams “demoscene,”
you don’t even have to look it up it’s so obvious. Of course when I did look it up, the answer
was unsurprising to say the least. Twilight Zone Software was an offshoot of
the demogroup Twilight Zone, responsible for a number of MS-DOS demos in the early 90s,
providing yet another degree of personal fascination regarding Interpose and its Christmas spin-off
here. Either way though, point being that I think
Interpose is awesome for a multitude of reasons, I’m still sad that I didn’t get to play
it back in the day, and the X-mas Greetings version is now way up there on my list of
quality Christmas titles to replay each year. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve had a clone breathing down my neck this whole time and it’s getting weird. [unsettling wheezing]
And if you enjoyed this –CHRISTMAS!– if you enjoyed this episode of LGR then –CHRISTMAAASS–
DUDE! [sighs] If you enjoyed this episode of Christmas LGR,
then do check out the previous years’ videos. The ongoing saga is strange, and it’ll continue
for the next couple weeks here too. As always though, thank you very much for
watching! -Christmas!
-Shut up.

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