#43 Xevious

Posted: 2nd May 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

236th played so far

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1982
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco

There is a big argument for doing games in strictly chronological order, that way we can see exactly who did what first and who influenced whom. Xevious is the earliest example of a vertical shooting game that appears on this list (yet is actually not the first to do so) but due to it’s early status we can automatically give it the title of influential. (Something that may not apply to all games of such an age. Who remembers Dig Dug or Mr. Do?) But does it still hold up?

Our Thoughts

The fact that iPhone games like Sad Robot are bringing interesting variants to the vertical shoot ’em up shows just how essential this genre this is. We have already covered a few of these (one of the more recent one being Ikari Warriors) so it was interesting to see what was improved on in later years in order to make newer games…  the answer is not much.

Xevious already has pretty much all the essential components in a vertical scrolling top down shoot ’em up (wow that’s a long genre). You have enemies approaching you in the sky which you shoot and then there are enemies on the ground that you bomb into submission. That fact that this game is actually set in a rich (considering the graphics in 1982 games) environment rather than the blackness of space is also a novelty for that era. Earlier game usually relied on a plastic overlay to achieve this effect (such as Boot Hill) but here it is fully rendered and has that simple retro look that we all know and love. It also makes the game feel more alive than the blackness of space. There’s more variety – you’re actually making progress traveling from one place to another, rather than floating in nothingness and no reference to scale.

It’s not exactly the riveting story found in games like Mass Effect but this is the eighties and outside of kill all enemies (we were still in the Cold War after all) there isn’t much driving this game apart from the fun… and the other thing. Other thing? Well, Xevious was one of the first games to include an Easter Egg. In fact, there are a number of Easter Eggs in this game… which neither of us found during our playthroughs but hey it’s amazing that more than 30 years ago this was an idea that was had and remained the bane of every completionist’s life (although the mentions of Xevious in Namco’s later Ridge Racer series is a nice touch).

Final Thoughts

Games and genres don’t usually leap ahead – a lot of it can be incremental growth with each game adding its own bits and pieces. This is especially true in the early years of videogaming, where a lot of different things were tried. When it comes to visuals and interaction with the world, Xevious pushed the genre forward, and that’s something. Beyond that, even now this would be playable on mobile devices, as  casual game, which is something that’s always an accomplishment.