North American arcade flyer
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Apple II, Atari 7800, Atari ST, NES, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Sharp X68000, ZX Spectrum|
|Arcade system||Namco Galaga|
|CPU||3 × Z80 @ 3.072 MHz|
|Sound||1 x Namco WSG @ 3.072 MHz|
1 x Namco 54XX @ 1.536 MHz
|Display||Vertical orientation, Raster, 224 x 288|
Xevious[a] is a 1983 vertically-scrolling shooter arcade game developed and published by Namco. It was licensed to Atari, Inc. for release in North America. The player controls a starship known as the "Solvalou", in its efforts to combat the Xevious forces. The Solvalou has two weapons: a projectile that can destroy flying enemies, and bombs that can be used to destroy ground-based enemies. It ran on the Namco Galaga arcade board.
Xevious was created by Masanobu Endō, being his first project for Namco. Commissioned by the company's marketing team to rival the success of Konami's Scramble, the game was originally titled Cheyenne and set during the Vietnam War, with the player controlling a small helicopter. Following departure of staff, a more science-fiction theme was applied to the game, featuring large, elaborate structures and mechanical starships. Several enemy types were made as homages to other science-fiction works, including Battlestar Galactica, UFO and Star Wars.
Xevious is credited as one of the first video games to feature a boss fight, pre-rendered graphics and a storyline, along with being the first arcade game to spawn a television commercial, courtesy of Atari. It became an overwhelming success for Namco in Japan, which would spawn a number of home ports and re-releases on several video game consoles, compilation games and digital storefronts. International releases of the game proved to be less successful, although still considered a commercial success. Japanese audiences cite Xevious as one of the most influential video games in the vertically-scrolling shooter genre, setting the template for future games to follow, such as Zanac, Raiden and RayForce. Its success would lead to the creation of several sequel and spin-off games, strategy guides, literature, soundtrack albums, and an animated feature-film.
Xevious is a vertical-scrolling shooter video game. The player controls a starship known as the Solvalou to destroy the Xevious forces, who plot to take over Earth. The Solvalou has two weapons for combating enemies - an "air zapper" that fires projectiles at flying enemies, and a "blaster bomb" for destroying enemies stationed on the ground. The Solvalou also has a blaster receptacle which will determine where the bombs will go to, used to destroy ground targets.
Certain areas of the game will have a fight against the Andor Genesis mothership, which will launch an endless stream of projectiles and explosive black spheres known as "Zakatos". The player can either destroy all four blaster receptacles or simply destroy the core in the center to defeat it. Some parts of the game will have hidden towers known as "Sol Citadels", which can be found by bombing specific parts of an area - these areas will cause the Solvalou's receptacle to flash red when flown over. Yellow "Special Flags" from Namco's own Rally-X are also found in a random section of the area - collecting it will award the player an extra life.
The game has a total of sixteen stages, known as "areas" in-game, which will loop back to the first after completing them all. Dying about 70% through the area will cause the player to start at the beginning of the next. These areas have large geographical features, such as forests, sand roads, rivers and mechanical structures - certain areas will also have Nazca lines placed on the ground, notably the "condor" design. The game will become progressively more difficult as the player becomes more skilled - once the player does well at destroying a certain enemy type, the game will instead replace it with one more advances and difficult to avoid. This can be reverted by destroying flashing-red "Zolback" radars found on the ground, which will cause the more advanced enemies to instead be replaced with easier ones.
Masanobu Endō joined Namco in April 1981, following the release of Rally-X. At the time, Konami released their game Scramble into arcades, credited as one of the earliest horizontal-scrolling shooter video games. Taking note of the game's success, Namco's marketing department would assign Endō and a team of others to create a two-button shoot-em-up game to compete against it. Early versions of the game were known as Cheyenne, taking place during the Vietnam War and having the player controlling a small helicopter. Several staff members would depart from the project, making Endō the game's head designer. Endō would learn programming on the job during the project. Namco graphic and logo artist Hiroshi "Mr. Dotman" Ono would design the sprite for the player's ship, the Solvalou, as well as many of the game's background designs. The game was programmed to start off easy for newer players, gradually becoming more difficult as the player becomes better at the game.
Much of the game's characters were designed by Shigeki Toiyama, who was originally the head of Namco's former robotics division - Xevious would be the first video game project he would work on. Several enemies in the game would pay as homages to starships from other popular science-fiction films and series, such as UFO, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars. The Solvalou ship drew inspiration to the Nostromo starcraft from the film Alien. Original designs for the Andor Genesis mothership were much more round than the finalized design - this circular version was nicknamed "Gofuru", for its resemblance to Gofuru cookies. Due to hardware limitations, the design of the ship was changed to be the shape of an octagon whilst still retaining many of the original features, such as the visible core and receptacles. The name Xevious was originally titled Zevious, with the "X" being added to make it sound more exotic, similar to the name Xerox. The game's metallic logo was created as a homage to the pinball table Xenon. Xevious was first released in Japan in January 1983. In the following months, Atari would acquire the rights from Namco to distribute the game outside of Japan.
Xevious would receive a number of home ports for both game consoles and personal computers, such as the Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Sharp X68000, Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari 7800 and ZX Spectrum. Ports for the Atari 2600 and 5200 were completed but never released. The Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer release, published in 1984, was one of the earliest third-party releases for the system and the console's first "killer app", selling a combined total of 1,260,000 units - copies would sell out within three days of initial shipment,, while Namco phone numbers would get floods of calls daily from players in need of gameplay tips. In North America, Xevious arcade cabinets sold a combined total of 5,295 units by 1983.
Xevious would be included in a number of Namco video game compilations, such as Namco Museum Vol. 2 (1996), Namco Museum 50th Anniversary (2005), Namco Museum Remix (2007), Namco Museum DS (2007) and Namco Museum Essentials (2009).The GameCube game Star Fox Assault includes the NES release as a bonus game by collecting all silver medals in the game. Digital releases of the game were added to the Xbox Live Arcade in 2007 and the Japanese Wii Virtual Console in 2009. A remake of the game was released under the 3D Classics brand in 2011, titled 3D Classics: Xevious, for the Nintendo 3DS. The NES version of the game was digitally released over to the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013.To celebrate the game's 30th anniversary in 2011, a digital version of the game was released for iOS devices as part of the Namco Arcade game compilation. In 2015, Xevious and several other Namco video game properties were made available to Japanese developers under the "Catalog IP Project", where developers could use characters from Namco video games in mobile and web browser games.
Xevious would receive critical acclaim by media outlets, cited as one of the greatest games of the vertical-scrolling shooter game genre. The game has since been referred as the father of vertical-scrolling shooter video games, paving the way for future titles such as Zanac, Twin Bee, Raiden and RayForce. In 1997, readers of Gamest magazine voted Xevious the second greatest arcade game of all time, wining the "Best Game Award" of that year, applauding the game's graphics, music, gameplay and historical significance. Next Generation listed the arcade version at number 90 in their "Top 100 Games of All Time" in 1996, citing the "intense action", variety of enemies, art direction, level design, and the "many possible skill shots." Japanese gaming magazine Yuge ranked the Famicom version one of the greatest games made for the platform. Xevious is also credited for being one of the first video games to have a boss fight, pre-rendered game graphics and a storyline.
Modern digital releases of the game would not be as well-received, however. Reviewing the Wii Virtual Console release of the NES version, Nintendo Life referred to the game as "dated", criticizing its graphical quality and sound effects. Both IGN and GameSpot would criticize the lack of improvements and bonus features in the Xbox Live Arcade version, although would give a positive response to the emulation quality and online leaderboards. X-One Magazine UK simply concluded their review of the XBLA release with "It's a piece of crap." Nintendo Life would also review the Wii U Virtual Console port of the NES release and give a more positive reception, calling it a "solid and very straightforward port of an arcade classic".
The success of Xevious would lead to a number of sequel and spin-off games being produced. The first of these, Super Xevious, was released in 1984 - the difficulty was increased to appeal to more advanced players, alongside new enemy types and characters that will reset the player's score when shot. A similarly-titled game was released in 1986 for the Family Computer, Super Xevious: GAMP no Nazo, which intermixed puzzle elements with the standard Xevious gameplay. An arcade version of this game was also released, known as Vs. Super Xevious, running on the Nintendo Vs. arcade system. An arcade spin-off title starring one of the enemies from Xevious, Grobda, was released in 1984.
Two games for the MSX2 and PC-Engine were released in 1988 and 1990 respectively - Xevious Fardraut Saga and Xevious Fardraut Densetsu, both of which include a remade port of the original alongside a brand-new story mode with new enemies, boss fights and power-up items. A 3D rail-shooter spin-off, Solvalou, was published in 1991. In 1995, two arcade sequels were released - Xevious Arrangement, a remake of the original with two-player co-op, and Xevious 3D/G, a 3D game with 2D gameplay - both of these titles were soon released in 1997 for the PlayStation, compiled into Xevious 3D/G+, alongside the original Xevious and Super Xevious. A final follow-up title was released in 2009, Xevious Resurrection, exclusively as part of the compilation title Namco Museum Essentials, which includes two-player simultaneous co-op alongside a number of other features.
In 1991, a three-part Xevious novel was published, titled Fardraut - the books documented the lore of the Xevious video game series, including its characters, backstory and events. The books would be republished fifteen years later in 2005. A CGI film adaptation of Xevious was produced during a collaboration by Namco and animation studio Groove Corporation, released in 2002 - home releases of the film were planned but soon cancelled, currently making it unobtainable. A Xevious-themed soundtrack album was produced by Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra, titled Video Game Music, and released in 1984. Compiled with music from other Namco video games, such as Mappy and Pole Position, it is credited as the first video game soundtrack album. Xevious would also spawn the first gameplay recording for a video game, alongside the first television commercial for an arcade game. Music from the game was used during the video game-themed television series Starcade.
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