Xenon (video game)
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|Media/distribution||Floppy disk, audio cassette|
The player assumes the role of Darrian, a future space pilot called into action by a mayday report from his superior on a nebula space station. As of late, the colonies of mankind have been under attack by mysterious and violent aliens called the Xenites and it is finally time for Darrian to engage them. The game's story was only revealed in the game's instruction book.
Unlike most scrolling shooters, the player can move in any direction instead of straight up. The player craft has two modes, a flying plane and a ground tank. The transition between crafts can be initiated at almost any time during play (except during the mid- and end-of-level boss sections, as well as certain levels where a certain mode is forced) and the mode chosen depends on the nature of the threat the player faces.
Destroying some enemies released power-ups the player could catch to enhance their ship.
Note that these descriptions are based on the Atari ST version.
This level, like all levels in the game, is split into two halves each culminating in a boss fight. The vertically scrolling light-blue-coloured tiled landscape is littered with floor-mounted or elevated gun turrets. These dome-shaped gun turrets, some concealed between two sliding silo doors, open up when approached and begin shooting ball-shaped homing projectiles in the crafts direction. To destroy ground-based turrets the player's craft has to be in tank mode and to destroy elevated gun turrets the craft has to be in plane mode.
Some gun turrets are visibly destroyed with the first shot. Others can be shot once, after which the silo doors will close, then reopen and reveal a second gun turret that can be permanently destroyed with another shot.
At various points ground-based groups of metallic bug-like objects and air-based formations of crafts are encountered and dealt with according to the current state of the player's ship and immediate threat.
The mid- and end-of-level bosses (called Sentinels in the instructions of the Amiga/Atari ST versions) are large round objects that move in a repeating pattern and deliver sustained strings of the same ball-shaped projectiles. If the player collides with the projectiles or the boss itself, which he or she must take measures to avoid, energy will be rapidly drained, resulting in the loss of a life. When the boss arrives, if flying, the player will be forced into ground mode.
The boss has a pulsating coloured center which pulsates faster as the point of destroying it is getting near.
The second half of level one requires the player craft to be in plane mode for most of the time as it is navigated over more tightly populated groups of gun turrets, culminating in the end-of-level boss. This boss is similar to the first, although its repeating pattern of movement requires the player to perform more complicated avoidance moves.
Following a similar theme to level one, this level with a green relief floor surface is also split into two halves each with a boss, but for almost all of this level the player is forced to remain in the air-based plane.
The gun turrets of the first level are replaced with guns mounted in and around the side of the landscape. There are several different varieties, including guns that can aim, guns that fire continuous volleys, and guns that even move along the wall to stay by the plane. There is a much larger number of ground-based waves of ships and enemies, most with a different visual style, group arrangements and movement patterns. As well as ball-shaped projectiles the player also encounters longer laser-like projectiles.
Note that in some versions, most notably the Atari ST and Amiga, the player can ONLY be the plane in the entire level. Also, in this level, flying into walls results in damage, and in parts of the level, especially the second half, careful flying is important.
The boss is a long ship that fires lasers. It has a "walls and core" arrangement (similar to the first boss of Gradius). The boss at the end is identical to the midpoint boss, except that its walls will fly downward when sufficiently damaged, requiring the player to keep shooting, or dodge if lacking firepower. Much like the bosses in the first level, the core of this boss will also pulsate more quickly as more damage is done.
Level three has the same landscape and gun turrets found on level one except the floor is a pink colour. The arrangements of the gun turrets is also more complex and ground-based bugs can approach the player's ship from behind as well as from in front, and sometimes in both directions simultaneously. Also, certain enemies that just chased the craft in level one now have guns.
This level necessitates much more strategic play and more frequent interchange between plane and tank mode in order to destroy the gun turrets and bugs.
The mid-level boss is a large black beetle-like object that delivers the ball-shaped projectiles seen on earlier levels. Periodically it delivers a burst of projectiles in eight directions simultaneously.
Again, similarly to the first level, the second half will require flying as a plane to deal with elevated turrets. Enemies from both levels one and two make an appearance here.
Near the end is a "cameo" appearance of the "ladybug" enemies first encountered on level one. The boss is identical to the mid-level version, except that it spawns a "ladybug" when performing the eight-way burst.
This level has no background, and like level two, it requires flying. Here, the enemies have a more organic look (although certain laser-using ships from level two make an appearance). Even the bullets are different. The walls are organic also, resembling muscle tissue. Along these walls move eye-shaped guns that follow the plane and fire a three-way gun. There are also mouth-shaped guns that shoot destructible lasers. Some of the enemies resemble food, others internal organs. Small meatball-shaped enemies sometimes descend en masse, requiring a safe passage be blasted through them. There are also heart- and leaf-shaped enemies, and even scrambled-egg like creatures, some of which come from behind. Near the end of the first half, brain-shaped enemies that launch homing eggs must be dealt with. The mid-level boss is based on the boss of the second level, but with an organic, heart-like core, and it flies in a different pattern. All the other rules for the boss of level two apply, except that once all the "walls" are gone, the core will fire "organic bullets" of the type common throughout this level.
Xenon was followed in 1989 by Xenon 2: Megablast. It was similar to the original, with some refinements and differences in gameplay.
On the Atari Falcon, Xenon crashes, when Captain Kelly-X is going to speak. This happens because the sample-playback routine writes to a PSG register at address $ffff8804, which on normal ST/STe computers works the same way as if the data was written to address $ffff8800. This bug can be fixed by making a backup copy of SPEECH.DAT, then applying the following patch to SPEECH.DAT, file offset 988 (offset $3DC hex):
49FA 0048 2C14 2A64 7E00 1E1D BC8D 640A 1A3A FFC0 67C8 2A7A 0036 288D 0607 0080 E74F 4CBB 00E0 702E 49F8 8800 0B8C 0000 0D8C 0000 0F8C 0000 4CDF 30E0 4E73 4E71 4E71 4E71 4E71
The patch also uses less clock cycles than the original. You can test if it works, by renaming SPEECH.DAT to SPEECH.TOS and then double-clicking it.