Let's trek back in time to 1990, and discover a game that likely very few people here have ever even heard of, and even less have played. It falls back into the 8-bit platforming/shooter genre on the NES. While highly unnoticed and difficult to pronounce from reading, Xexyz(zehk-sehs), made its mark in the gaming world...well, in Japan at least.
Release Date: 08/26/1988 (JP); 03/--/1990 (NA)
Publisher: Hudson Soft
ESRB Rating: None
While classic NES games such as Super Mario Bros., Metroid, and Gradius were grabbing people's attention and time, gaming companies Atlus and Hudson Soft were busy making a new type of game that blended all three of the above mentioned games. Hudson Soft took the platforming aspects of Super Mario Bros., the futuristic look and weaponry of Metroid, and the amazing left-to-right shooting of Gradius. As a result, Xexyz was born.
20 years, and I have no idea why he rides a turtle.
Xexyz takes place in an all-too-eerie, post-apocalyptic era in the year 2777. The planet Earth is all but destroyed after nuclear wars and natural disasters ravaged everything in existence. All that remains is a small, island nation known as Xexyz, which is being threatened the evil Goruza and his hoard of Alien Robots. To make matters worse, he has even kidnapped Princess Maria and her friends. This leaves the hero Apollo, alone to save the nation, the woman, and the world. Sound familiar yet?
Well, being that it's an NES game, you can easily guess that the graphics are nothing compared to today's video games. However, Atlus did a wonderful job at making Xexyz look as nice as it could. Yes, the graphics are all in 8-bit, but, it the best an 8-bit game can look at that time. It was very well detailed for its time, and the game easily stands out compared to a majority of other games released on the NES. Just like almost every other game during that time, the only issue of the game is that there are random spots during the course of gameplay where certain things start flashing as if they're disappearing into the background. All-in-all though, this is superb graphic work for being a game made in the late 80s.
This game takes you from a simple forest, to outer space, to odd temples, and more. It definitely covers the scenery options.
Again, being a game on the NES, the gameplay isn't as extensive as today, but it certainly has enough to figure out, and it is incredibly difficult to boot. The controls are simple, as you would think. The Control Pad moves Apollo or his ship, depending on the situation, the A-button jumps, and when combined with holding Up on the Control Pad, makes Apollo jump higher. The A-button is not used when on some ships, but on others, it sends a missile that falls to the bottom of the screen. The B-button fires for both Apollo and a ship, and with Apollo, holding Up on the Control Pad will allow him to fire directly into the air. That about does it for controls.
In its own unique way, players progress through Xexyz by completing levels and defeating bosses. However, there are various weapons and power ups for Apollo to obtain or buy to help him complete each area. Also, something that side-scrollers such as Castlevania and Metroid had used when they were released is the life bar, which is also used in Xexyz. This can be increased to sustain more damage as players progress.
Like many many games before it, a simple and straightforward style of getting to the end of the level, then do it all again with a different look and the occasional boss has stood strong as the level setup. Xexyz breaks away from that trend by adding another style of play after every even-numbered stage, in which Apollo puts on another suit, or boards a ship(which for some unknown reason always resembles an animal), and plays through the stage in a constant moving scenario. Here players have to avoid hazards, kill enemies, and defeat the occasional, and extremely difficult boss. This pattern of stage layouts continue until the final stage, which has another, completely different setup that will be a surprise to players. I would rather see everyone rip their hair out trying to get there themselves without cheating.
Yes, that's a dolphin, with a horn.
Now, typically these games would've have much longevity to them, but Xexyz is a decent exception to the rule. Yes, it's like most other games, and you just play the same stages and story over and over again, but, the difficulty of this game makes that feat hard to do without a cheating device and infinite lives. Xexyz is amongst the most difficult games I've ever played on the NES, yet, it easily remains a playable game. With a lot, and I mean a lot, of practice and pattern watching, one may eventually be able to complete this game. Though, I doubt it'd be any time soon. This game takes a lot of work, and learning what weapons and power ups give you the best chance at not losing every life you have in one spot.
Once again, being an NES game, it's got an 8-bit soundtrack to it. It's for the most part a bunch of random beeps and crashes that are built together to makes a theme song, but it is somewhat catchy. I personally would still stick to blasting my own library while playing.
Yes, the bosses move in patterns, but I promise, it won't make them any easier to get by. You'll be raging before you get to the third one.
Overall, Xexyz is a unique game, combining the aspects of multiple NES legends into a perfect mold. The game's difficulty will certainly frustrate some lesser skilled players, but like with every game, practice makes perfect, which is exactly what this game is. Xexyz is an extremely unknown game that had amazing potential, and was way ahead of its time for how much you can put into one game. If you haven't heard of or played this game yet, find it at a flea market if you're lucky, or get something that can play this game, because it'll be well worth your time, even in 2011.
I give Xexyz a perfect 10 out of 10.