Xenon is a vertical shoot 'em up game developed for the arcades by Arcadia Systems and converted by The Bitmap Brothers in 1988 to Commodore Amiga (OCS/ECS), Atari ST, DOS, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and MSX home computers.
STORY / GAMEPLAY
Human colonies are under attack by a mysterious and violent alien species called "The Xenites" (probably originating from planet Xenon). You're an elite pilot named Darrian and it's time to take action, defend your colony and engage the attackers in a battle with your secret weapon (an armored tank that can transform into a mighty aircraft! This transformation is quite unique for its time but it seems that it's effecting the gameplay quite a bit, as the game is an arcade shooter and when transforming (from air to ground) it slows down the action; a fact that can sometimes become frustrating. The transformation between these two different vehicles can be triggered almost at any time of the game (except during the mid and the end of any level boss sections). Along the way there are several power ups available to collect, necessary to destroy particular enemy structures or even battleships (plus the intelligent bosses at the end of each level.)
GRAPHICS / SOUND The graphics on the Atari ST are superb for its time with wonderfully drawn sprites and enemy installations. Although the backgrounds look quite similar throughout the game occasionally changing colors and their textures being mostly tiles, the enemy ground installations give this metal-like sense with nice shadows while the sprites are nicely detailed. Everything moves fast (especially when airborne) and pretty smooth too. Note that, at the beginning of each sector there is a digitized face that tells the sector number (i.e. "Sector One"). The face is from an actual person, Bitmap Brothers' Eric Matthews! The Atari ST version's sound is incredible and consists of some atmospheric tunes composed by David Whittaker along with some impressive explosions and shooting sound effects plus the bass Eric's sampled voice. The zappy and kaboom sounds enhance the game a lot and give a wonderful feel. Comparably, the Atari ST version has better sound than the Amiga (a very rare but true fact this time.)
GAMEPLAY SAMPLE VIDEO On our video below you may watch the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and Arcade (Arcadia Systems' Amiga based) versions of the game.
The Atari ST version is at 05:42.
CPU: Motorola 68000 16/32bit at 8mhz. 16 bit data bus/32 bit internal/24-bit address bus. MEMORY: RAM 512KB (1MB for the 1040ST models) / ROM 192KB GRAPHICS: Digital-to-Analog Converter of 3-bits, eight levels per RGB channel, featuring a 9-bit RGB palette (512 colors), 320x200 (16 color), 640x200 (4 color), 640x400 (monochrome). With special programming techniques could display 512 colors on screen in static images. SOUND: Yamaha YM2149F PSG "Programmable Sound Generator" chip provided 3-voice sound synthesis, plus 1-voice white noise mono PSG. It also has two MIDI ports, and support mixed YM2149 sfx and MIDI music in gaming (there are several games supported this).