The Game: As the commander of a sleek Solvalou fighter, you’re deep into enemy territory, shooting their disc-shaped fighters out of the sky, bombing ground installations and artillery nests, bombing tanks, and trying to destroy the mothership. As you progress further behind enemy lines, heavier aircraft and more versatile and deadly ground-based defenses become the norm. Also look out for tumbling airborne mirrors – they’re impervious to your fire, but you’re toast if you fly right into them. (Atari, 1983)
Memories: Based on a Namco import distributed under Atari’s banner in the U.S., Xevious may be about as close as one could get to replicating the arcade game with the 5200’s hardware. Curiously, though the copyright on the main menu screen is a year later than that on the unfinished 5200 Tempest proto, Xevious is a more complete game, fleshed out to a fully playable state.
Control is fairly smooth, making allowances for the non-centering 5200 controllers, and the graphics, though horizontally “squished,” are decent. The color of the player’s Solvalou fighter might have needed to be different before Xevious would’ve hit the stores, as sometime the deep blue of the fighter almost disappears into the brown-and-green scrolling background.
Other versions of Xevious that Atari developed included a never-released 2600 edition (which, to be charitable, didn’t look great) and a version for the Atari 7800, which did eventually see the light of day when that console was finally released; of course, by that time the NES was on the scene with its own port of Xevious, and it’s easy to guess who came out on top there.