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. (Bandai, 1988)
Memories: It wasn’t the first version of Xevious ever to hit a home console – Atari, who held the arcade rights for Namco’s genre-defining scrolling shoot ’em up in North America, made sure it had the rights for its home consoles too. But, in one of the more unfortunate coincidences of the video game industry, none of the three planned versions of Xevious made it out of the starting gate on time.
The Atari 2600 and 5200 versions were halted at the prototype stage; a decent version for the Atari 7800 was finished…and then, like the console for which it was intended, it was stuck in a time warp when Jack Tramiel bought Atari and mothballed the 7800 project for two years. When Nintendo revived the game industry, Tramiel decided to put the cancelled console on the market. But this meant that when the 7800 and its version of Xevious hit the shelves, they were up against the NES – and this far superior version of Xevious released by Japanese toy company Bandai.
If nothing else, this Xevious is easier to pick up and play than the 7800 version; the NES’ unambiguous two-button controller makes it a bit less confusing than the two-button 7800 ProLine joysticks. (On the other hand, however, it could be argued that the game is best played with the arcade-style NES Advantage joystick – a D-pad just doesn’t always feel right for Xevious.) The game’s sights and sounds are reproduced much more faithfully here as well. There were still many differences between this version and the original arcade game, but nothing that would ruin the game.