Xenon is a vertical shoot 'em up game developed for the arcades by The Bitmap Brothers in 1988. The game was converted to the Commodore Amiga (OCS/ECS), Atari ST, PC (DOS), ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and MSX home computers.
This is a famous vertically scrolling shooter written by the geniuses Bitmap Brothers. The colonies of mankind have been under attack and the Federation's General Xod has been taken captive by mysterious and violent aliens called the Xenites and it is finally time for you (Darrian) to engage them using your morphing craft that can alter from a spaceship to a ground assault vehicle! You need to select the appropriate craft to negotiate the enemies facing you and be prepared to switch between them rapidly! The ground-craft is slow but capable of eight way movement, whilst the jet fighter is fast and capable to hit targets on higher ground. Targets vary from laser-shooting turrets, ground mobility crafts to fast airborne alien spaceships, all shooting at you on first sight! Ok this transition between the crafts is affecting the gameplay quite a bit, as the game is an arcade shooter and this slow down (switching from air to ground gameplay) is sometimes frustrating. The transition between crafts can be initiated at almost any time during play (except during the mid and end of level boss sections). There are several power-ups available (simply destroy certain installations or some special waves of aliens) varying from homing missiles and multiples to more advanced laser cannons. Extra shields and energy power-ups can be also found. At the end of every stage you are faced with an end-of-level boss. There are four (4) sectors to play with. In contrast to the first three sections (pure shoot-em-up gameplay), the fourth is a real race against the clock as you try to reach the end of the section. Ok there is a balance between frustration and addiction here, and along with the great graphics and sound, this game was wonderful!
Graphically the Amiga version is identical to the Atari ST. The graphics are superb for its time, the installations and explosions are wonderfully drawn. Although backgrounds are quite similar throughout the game occasionally changing in color and texture being mostly tiles, installations give this metallic-like sense with nice shadows whilst sprites are pretty nice detailed. Everything moves fast (especially when airborne) and pretty smooth too. Note that, when gameplay starts there is a digitized face that tells the sector number (i.e. "Sector One") at the beginning of the game (stunning for its time). The face was none other than Bitmap Brother Eric Matthews! The game's sonics are also of the highest standard here. Sound consists of some atmospheric tunes written by the famous David Whittaker along with great explosions and shooting effects. There is this awesome speech synthesis as General Xod (actually is Bitmap Brother Eric Matthews himself!) appears and announces "Sector One". The zappy and kaboom sounds enhance play further and give a wonderful feel to the game. I must admit though, the chip music here sounds better on the Atari ST version when compared to the Amiga ...
In-game music sample:
Some videos belong to retroshowcase.com (indicated); others not
CPU: Motorola MC68000 7.16 MHz MEMORY: 512KB of Chip RAM (OCS chipset - A500), 512 KB of Slow RAM or Trapdoor RAM can be added via the trapdoor expansion, up to 8 MB of Fast RAM or a Hard drive can be added via the side expansion slot. The ECS chipset (A500+) offered 1MB on board to 2MB (extended) of Chip RAM. GRAPHICS: The OCS chipset (Amiga 500) features planar graphics (codename Denise custom chip), with up to 5 bit-planes (4 in hires), allowing 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 color screens, from a 12bit RGB palette of 4096 colors. Resolutions varied from 320x256 (PAL, non-interlaced, up to 4096 colors) to 640x512 (interlace, up to 4 colors). Two special graphics modes where also included: Extra Half Bright with 64 colors and HAM with all 4096 colors on-screen. The ECS chipset models (Amiga 500+) offered same features but also extra high resolution screens up to 1280x512 pixels (4 colors at once). SOUND: (Paula) 4 hardware-mixed channels of 8-bit sound at up to 28 kHz. The hardware channels had independent volumes (65 levels) and sampling rates, and mixed down to two fully left and fully right stereo outputs