I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years. Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.
Xenon 2: Megablast
Almost no developer says “Amiga 500” like the Bitmap Brothers. Responsible for some of the most well known games released over the system’s life, the developer has more than earned its place in the hearts of Amiga fans worldwide. While games like Speedball 2 to Chaos Engine managed to crawl their way into the modern gamer’s vernacular, being remade seemingly every second year, shoot ’em up Xenon 2 is equally as brilliant yet often forgotten.
Like anything with Bitmap Brothers‘ signature handprints all over it Xenon 2 is decidedly stunning. It was the turn of the decade and the game bleeds that over the top style that the era is known for, with a ridiculously great soundtrack and graphics that at the time were some of the best around. The turn of the decade always seems like a pretty radical and futuristic time but with Xenon 2 the Bitmap Brothers (in conjunction with fellow UK developer The Assembly Line) gave the 80’s era of video games a fitting send off.
Like fellow vertical scroller Hybris before it, Xenon 2 was all about upgrading your ship on the fly, to the point where if you last long enough and you’ll have modules of your ship flying all over the screen. It was a cool graphical effect that also enhanced the gameplay, giving the player a real incentive to stay alive. After all a bigger ships means bigger gunpower in the shoot ’em up world. As with most games power ups are core to the Xenon 2 experience, and while they can be collected in play, unlike many of its contemporaries the ability to buy power ups at predetermined points was integral to the experience. The game also happened to have the greatest shop keeper that side of Resident Evil 4.
I’d be lying if I said Xenon 2 changed the world, rewrote the rules, changed the course of game design. What it did do was set a new benchmark for how games were expected to look and feel. It felt like as much a piece of graphic artwork than it did a game and seemed to signal the start of video games as fashion, or dare I say it, art. It was a spectacular looking and sounding game, with that trademark Bitmap Brothers shine, that played brilliantly. An apt send off for the decade known for its excess and exuberance.
Have a favourite game from 1989? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown. Miss a year? Catch up below.