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. (Mindscape, 1983)
Memories: In the arcade, Xevious ushered in a whole new genre of vertical-scrolling shooters, a category that would grow to include hits like 1942, Dragon Spirit and Exed Exes – it would actually become a pretty crowded field. But the graphics and sound hardware of the Apple IIe, using a command set grandfathered in from the late ’70s, wasn’t exactly ideal for this new genre.
Xevious can be a little sluggish when it comes to controlling the Solvalou fighter, but the biggest issue with the Apple version is that the subtle visual cues of the original game, offering an idea about vertical speed and placement, are missing due to the Apple’s graphical limitations. Your only clues are roads and ground installations – the former of which is teeming with tanks, and the latter of which is already shooting at you. The necessity of reformatting the game to a horizontal screen also shortens response and targeting time.
The horizontal screen is an obstacle surmounted by every other home version of Xevious, but combined with the sparse graphics, it’s almost a game-killer.