Exed Exes (a.k.a. Savage Bees)
The Game: Bees are attacking, but they have more than just the sting in their tail, to mix an insect metaphor. These are alien bees with energy weapons and some serious technology to back them up. And guess how many ships are going to fight these buzz-bombers off? You got it – just your ships, one at a time, flying in and blowing up everything in sight. While you’re limited to flying one ship at a time, remember that the bees are attacking in graceful and deadly waves. Occasionally, you’ll encounter “high point areas” where hitting a “pow” marker will transform bees or indestructible skull obstacles on the screen into a fruit that you can collect harmlessly for bonus points. But the bees have a backup plan, too – hive-shaped carriers that appear from time to time, offloading a whole fleet of enemies for you to contend with. (Capcom, 1985)
Memories: I love Exed Exes (released in the U.S. as Attack Of The Savage Bees). But there’s nothing especially original about it, you know? The game play reeks of Xevious, with elements of Mario Bros. (the “pow” power-up) and even Pac-Man (bonus fruit) thrown in for good measure. The enemies appear in waves very much like those of Galaga and Gaplus, even down to their sneaky trick of attacking you from behind at the bottom of the screen.
So what makes this seemingly unoriginal game so much fun?
I guess it’s a triumph of style over substance. Exed Exes is beautiful to look at – not just its smooth parallax scrolling in the background, but the backgrounds themselves, those honeycomb-like airborne platforms, are attractive without being distracting. (And from the game programmer’s perspective, they’re easily-tiled graphics, which conserves a bit of memory and rendering time.) The calliope-esque music is deceptively calm and intriguing as well, and the whole thing is just so bright and colorful. And it is fun to play, derivative though it may be.