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Arcade flyer for Xevious
|Genre(s)||Vertical scrolling shooter|
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, alternating turns|
|Arcade system||Namco Galaga|
|CPU||3x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz|
|Sound||1x Namco WSG @ 3.072 MHz, 1x Namco 54XX @ 1.536 MHz|
|Display||Vertical orientation, Raster, 224 x 288|
Xevious (ゼビウス Zebiusu?) is a vertical scrolling shooter arcade game that was released by Namco in 1983 (but copyrighted as 1982). It runs on Namco Galaga hardware, and was designed by Masanobu Endō (who later created The Tower of Druaga). In North America, the game was manufactured and distributed by Atari, Inc.. In Brazil, the arcade cabinet was printed with the name of "COLUMBIA" for the game, while the software still showed the original title of "Xevious".
The player must use an 8-way joystick, to pilot a combat aircraft called a Solvalou, which is armed with a forward-firing Zapper for aerial targets and a Blaster which fires an unlimited supply of air-to-surface bombs for ground targets. The game, presumably set in Peru, was notable for the varied terrain below, which included forests, airstrips, enemy bases - and mysterious Nazca Lines-like drawings on the ground.
There are various aerial enemy aircraft which fire relatively slow-moving bullets at the player, as well as (presumably unpiloted) fast-moving projectiles, and exploding black spheres. Ground enemies are a combination of stationary bases and moving vehicles, most of which also fire slow-moving bullets at the player. Giant floating Andor Genesis motherships appear in certain areas; these must be defeated by knocking out their cores, and are considered one of the first level bosses to be incorporated into a video game. 
The game scrolls through 16 areas, looping back to Area 7 after Area 16. The Solvalou continually advances over varying terrain, and the boundaries between areas are marked only by dense forests being flown over. If the player dies, play will normally resume from the start of the area - but if the player has completed at least 70% of the current area before dying, play will resume from the start of the next area instead. As the Solvalou continuously flies forward, it is possible to advance without defeating any enemies.
Xevious tells the story of the fight between humankind and the biocomputer GAMP, which controls the alien forces of planet Xevious. It turns out that the Xevious inhabitants are originally from Earth, and GAMP (General Artificial Matrix Producer) is the product of an ancient civilization that prospered on earth a hundred thousand years ago. During this golden age, the Gamps were human clones used in heavy labor, until they rebelled to their own creators. In order to survive the upcoming Ice Age, they planned to leave earth and migrate in search of a new homeland. They finally selected seven planets that were likely suitable to human life.
Right before the departure, a group of humans rebelled and decided to stay on the earth anyway. It is from here that thousand years after the leaving of the Gamps that the brave pilot Mu and his android companion Eve decided to travel to Xevious (literally, the fourth planet) to avoid glaciation. They would not receive a warm welcome from their ancestors, though: captured and imprisoned, they discovered that the Xevians were actually planning a massive comeback on the Earth.
Fast forward to our days: all above the Earth's surface, and near the ancient civilization remains, giant artifacts suddenly emerge from the soil and activate: they are SOL towers, buried underground and inactive for eons, now responding to GAMP's orders. The invasion has begun: it is now that, with perfect timing, Mu, Eve, and Mio Veetha, a Xevian who opposes to the Gamp's regime and freed our duo from prisoning, are back on the Earth on their Solvalou ship and ready to fight Gamp's army. Meanwhile, archaeologists Susan Meyer and Akira Sayaka discovered that the Nazca lines could be hiding an ancient weapon that may be used to counterattack Gamp's army.
Xevious was one of the earliest vertical scrolling shooters (it was preceded by at least the 1981 Atari 8-bit computer game Caverns of Mars) and greatly influenced games in this genre. The graphics were revolutionary for their time, and characters were rendered with remarkable clarity and effect through careful use of shades of gray and palette-shifting. It was one of the first games to feature hidden bonuses which are not mentioned in the instructions, but can be revealed by performing a secret maneuver. Among these was the "special flag" which had first appeared in Rally-X. In this game the flag gave the player an extra life when collected, and this feature was carried over to numerous subsequent Namco games. In 1983, the original Xevious was the first arcade game to actually have a television commercial aired for it for the North American market. Atari promoted the game with the slogan "Are you devious enough to beat Xevious?" and closed the commercial with a tag line branding it "the arcade game you can't play at home." This may have been the first TV commercial for an arcade video game. Atari also produced a TV commercial, specifically for Xevious.
While it saw limited popularity in the United States, Xevious was a huge cult hit in Japan. Popular musicians Haruomi Hosono (Yellow Magic Orchestra) and Keisuke Kuwata (Southern All Stars) were known to be fans of the game, and the former produced an album of music from Namco video-games, with Xevious as its centerpiece. A follow-up 12" single featured in its liner notes an entire science-fiction short story by Endō, set in the world of Xevious, with even a rudimentary fictional language. The theme music from Xevious was used during certain segments of the video arcade game-based television game show Starcade.
According to Namco Museum DS, a three-part novel was written about Xevious entitled "Fardraut". However, not much is known about the book, implying that it was never even released. According to the game, some backgrounds, characters, events and even sounds were inspired by the book.
Xevious has recently been resurrected as a comic strip as part of the ShiftyLook series of internet comic strips. The strip features a storyline focusing on a young pilot who breaks up with his girlfriend to fight the Xevious only to have her join the airforce alongside him afterward to save Nelvana.
Xevious spawned several arcade sequels, updates, and even a spin-off:
- Super Xevious (1984) was practically the same game made significantly harder, and with a few rarely seen new enemies (including a silver Galaxian flagship, a helicopter and a dark yellow tank). Some enemies would also reset the player's score if destroyed.
- Grobda (1984) was a spin-off game starring an enemy character — the tank with corkscrew treads, which is the eponymous "Grobda".
- Super Xevious: GAMP no Nazo (1986) was released for the Family Computer and the Nintendo VS. System. The player must solve riddles in each stage in order to progress. Unless certain criteria are met, the stage loops indefinitely, getting harder and harder in the process.
- Xevious: Fardraut Saga (1988) was released for the MSX2 computers and developed by Compile. The player can select between two modes at the title screen, Recon (port of the original arcade Xevious) and Scramble, which is a new 16-area game with new enemies and 4 different ships to play with (Solvalou, Solgrado, Zeodalley and Gampmission). In 1990, a similar game was released on the TurboGrafx-16 as Xevious: Fardraut Densetsu.
- Solvalou (1991) presented the game with a first-person view, and used 3-D flat shaded polygon graphics. Released in Japan only.
- Xevious 3D/G (1995) was an update of the original, which used 3-D texture mapped polygon graphics and a simultaneous two-player feature (the second player got to control a red-lined version of the Solvalou). Ported to the Sony PlayStation as Xevious 3D/G+.
- Xevious Arrangement (1995) was released as part of the Namco Classic Collection Vol. 1 compilation arcade title (along with the original Xevious and Super Xevious). The arranged version of the game had improved music and graphics, and different levels.
- Xevious: Scramble Mission (2006) was developed by Namco and released by Bandai as part of the Let's TV Play Classic Namco Nostalgia 1 compilation title, along with Mappy, the original Xevious and another exclusive game called Mappy: Revenge of Nyamco. The game reuses the graphics and engine of the original Xevious in a new mission where the Solvalou must navigate a fortress while being timed and destroy a new version of Gamp.
- Xevious Resurrection (2009) was released as part of the PlayStation 3 downloadable title Namco Museum Essentials (Namco Museum.comm in Japan).
- An RTS game titled New Space Order was in production by Namco Bandai Games for the System N2 arcade system board, but has been cancelled. It would contain elements from the Xevious video game series. In the game there was going to be an interplanetary nation called the "Military Empire," in which the population speaks the Xevi language, the same language spoken by the dwellers of planet Xevious. Their theme song, sung in Xevi, can be downloaded from the game's homepage.
- An anime adaption of the game, called New Space Order: Link of Life, was released in February 2007.
Xevious has been ported to multiple other formats, including the Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit, NEC PC Engine, and Nintendo Entertainment System game consoles, as well as the MSX, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Apple II and Atari ST home computers.
The game has also been included in a number of classic arcade game compilations for consoles and PC, including Namco Museum Volume 2 for the original PlayStation in 1996, Microsoft Revenge of Arcade for the PC in 1998, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and PC in 2005 (but was not included in the scaled-down Game Boy Advance version of Namco Museum 50th Anniversary), Namco Museum Battle Collection for the PlayStation Portable in 2005, Namco Museum DS for the Nintendo DS in 2007, Namco Museum Remix for the Wii in 2007, and Namco Museum Essentials for the PlayStation 3 in 2009. In 2004, the game was also ported to the plug-n-play format as part of the Ms. Pac-Man TV Game arcade compilation, released by Jakks Pacific and developed by HotGen Studios.
The NES version of the game was repackaged for Game Boy Advance in 2004 as part of the Classic NES Series, was included as an unlockable bonus game in Star Fox: Assault in 2005, and was released for the Virtual Console on January 15, 2007 for the Wii and May 9, 2013 for the Wii U.
In 2005, Namco released the game on the mobile platform for cellphones. It was released on Xbox Live Arcade on May 23, 2007.
In 2006 Xevious was released in the Let's! TV play classic series along with a sequel called Xevious Scramble Mission that utilised the same gameplay and engine.
This game has also been released as part of the Pac-Man's Arcade Party arcade machine in 2010.
3D Classics: Xevious is a port of this game with 3D effects added to separate all of the objects in the air and everything on ground, and the port takes advantage of the whole 3DS's top screen instead of it being limited to the game's original resolution (with moving clouds added on to the sides), it's available for download on the Nintendo eShop of the Nintendo 3DS console for $5.99. It was released in Japan in June 2011 and in North America, Europe and Australia in July 2011.
Differences between Japanese and North American versions
The names appearing by default in the Japanese version's high-score list are pseudonyms of the game and sound designers. The North American version only allowed three characters for high-score names.
The Zapper and Blaster buttons were reversed between the Japanese and North American arcade versions.
References in Ridge Racer
There are several references to Xevious in Ridge Racer. Two bonus cars have this game as a sponsor, a red car, "RT Xevious Red" and a green car, "RT Xevious Green". They were used in the PlayStation version of Ridge Racer, Ridge Racer Revolution, and Ridge Racer 64. In R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 and Ridge Racer 64, a racing team has this game as a sponsor, donning a silver with blue stripes paint scheme, as well as their racing number, 02. The team is named "RT Solvalou", and they are a "hard" team, while in Ridge Racer 64, "RT Solvalou" is one of the four cars the player starts with.
Ridge Racer 7, for the PlayStation 3, features a playable version of this game during the opening sequence. Players are given two lives in order to reach a pre-set high score. The full Xevious game is unlockable through completing part of the single player, offline Ridge Racer grand prix and UFRA circuits.
In addition, the Andor Genesis is Pac-Man's vehicle in Ridge Racer 7, being one of the unlockable special machines. Its speedometer is framed in the Andor Genesis sprite, and is displayed in Xevian characters. In Ridge Racer 3D, the unlockable vehicle for Pac-Man is the Solvalou (using Sheonite-like objects for front "wheels"). Its speedometer is also in Xevian, with a layout loosely resembling the arcade game Solvalou.
References in other games
- In Star Fox: Assault, which was co-developed by Namco, the Special Flags are hidden secrets in the game's stages. The pickup sound for the flag is exactly the same as that in Xevious. Additionally, the NES version of Xevious is unlockable if the player earns every silver medal in the game.
- In both Mario Kart Arcade GP and Mario Kart Arcade GP 2, arcade versions (co-developed by Namco) of Nintendo's popular Mario Kart series of games, Pac-Man appears as a playable character. One of his selectable karts is the Solvalou spacecraft.
- In EarthBound, music from Xevious can be heard in the background noise at the Onett arcade.
- Although not a reference within a video game, the Solvalou ship is available as an avatar on the PlayStation Network.
- In various Tales games and Ace Combat Infinity, all developed by Namco, the invincible flying panels from Xevious were featured with the name "Bacura". They only appear at specific areas in each game, and each Bacura has a very high defense, making it hard to defeat one.
- Pronounced // ZE-vee-əs according to the Japanese (katakana) spelling, // ZEE-vee-əs per television advertising by the American licensor.
- Savorelli, Carlo. "Xevious". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
- "Xevious". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "3D Classics: Xevious Release Information for 3DS". GameFAQs. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- Xevious at the Killer List of Videogames
- Xevious at the Arcade History database
- Xevious guide at StrategyWiki
- Hardcore Gaming 101 Xevious series article
- Xevious at World of Spectrum