Monday, 30 April 2012

Xenon 2 - Megablast (Amiga)

Super Adventures in Bitmap Brothers Games - Game 3

I'm just going to sit here and stare at this screen for a couple more minutes. The title screen music is so awesome they actually named the game after it. The Amiga's floppy disk version has a mod version of a song called Megablast, by Bomb the Bass, the CD version has a remix, (youtube links) and they're both great. In my humble opinion.

It definitely looks a lot prettier than Xenon, and my ship's even got some colour on it this time. It seems a bit slow, though I'm hoping a few of these 'S' pickups will help with that.

Weirdly it's still playing the title screen music, not that I'm complaining. But I have to hammer the fire button to get the gun to fire at a decent rate, which has the side effect of cutting out one of the music channels. So I have no drums in my music, and that makes me very sad.

How are these bullets missing you? The enemies keep swirling around the screen in elaborate routines, dancing around my shots. On the rare occasion I actually manage to take out an entire wave, they drop a clear sphere marked with a 'C'. Which I'm guessing is just money, because they ain't making my gun any more powerful.


Two paths, one's suspiciously quiet, and the other's swarming with enemies. Hmm, I think I'll go with route #2.

Shit! These worm things don't mess around. I had full health a second ago, and it drained it all away just by colliding with me.

Fortunately I respawned pretty close by, so I didn't lose any progress. The game even let me keep my weapons.

You have got to be shitting me. Who the hell thought it'd be a good idea to make two identical paths and have one lead to a dead end in a upwards scrolling shoot 'em up?

Well at least now I know colliding with the walls doesn't hurt me. And I've got retro thrusters so I can back up. Very slowly.

Son of a bitch! Being at the edge of the screen gives me zero reaction time, so the worm was able to kill me before I even knew it was there.

Fortunately unlike Xenon, this has continues.

Okay, this time I'm taking the left route and staying well clear of the worms.

Son of a BITCH! I didn't have a hope of avoiding those things.

Though okay, I should have been on guard when I saw the gap in the wall. That was my own dumb mistake.


Mid level shop screen! And a beautifully animated one at that.

I could grab an S, or maybe even an F. I don't know how much health I have, so the heart might be pointless. The flashing horse head on the right is called 'Super Nashwan Power' apparently, and that's all the description I'm going to get. But hey it's only 600 realcash, so I might as well see what it does.

Holy shit, I think I like Super Nashwan Power! Best 600 quid I ever spent. Now I just need to find something to point it at.

Of course the thing wears off when the enemies turn up. So now I'm back to my amazing trick shot starting cannon, which can fire a million bullets onto the screen and still miss every enemy.

See those orange things on the walls? They're totally harmless, and just blob around along the edge doing absolutely nothing. And as soon as you get used to that, they explode into bullets. Another stupid death.


I have to wonder why I'm fighting giant sea creatures in a spaceship. Am I underwater now? It looks like I could be, but I don't see any bubbles.

Hah! There's the bubbles. Level 1 boss defeated, and I'm finally on to level 2.

Now I've got some boss money the shop's gotten more interesting. I think I'll avoid horse power this time and go for the double shot gun.

Yeah, this is just getting stupid now. The walls are made up of bullets and half the enemies are the same colour as the background.

Plus I've got enemies flying up from the bottom of the screen that I don't have time to dodge. I'm using my cool little retro thrusters to slow down so I can pick off the enemies above me, and I'm being one-shotted by colliding with the ones appearing below me.

To be honest, I was having more fun just staring at the title screen. Next game.


Apparently PC Format magazine commissioned The Bitmap Brothers to write a guide to making games, which ended up with them creating a Xenon 2 remake called Xenon 2000: Project PCF. And it's free to download from their site.

Xenon 2000 (PC)
It does seem a bit similar, despite the cold pre-rendered 3d graphics replacing the awesome hand pixelled art of the original. Plus there's dramatic music in the background instead of Bomb the Bass But I'm getting the feeling they weren't going for an authentic remake.

For one thing, I'm blowing the shit out of enemies without even trying, and it's not because I've gotten any better at shooting things in the last five minutes. They just wander down the screen in a row, letting me pick them all off in turn.

Xenon 2000 (PC)
Yeah, this obviously wasn't meant to be a straight remake of Xenon 2's first level. Too many asteroids and not enough dead ends and instant-death worms.

I'm not often a fan of pre-rendered 3d art like this, though I have to admit that I think I like the new spacefighter sprite. They did a good job with the thing, it's got some charm to it.

Xenon 2000 (PC)
Pro-tip: Make sure to pick up the red arrow pick up and press the 'dive' button here or you'll crash and instantly explode. I actually had to look on youtube to figure this out, because I thought a red arrow pointing downwards meant it was a 'slow down' pick up. And I don't much want to slow down.

Back in Xenon 2 I could collide into walls to my heart's content without even scratching the paintwork. If I stray too close to the scenery in this I'm lucky if it's just my weapon pods I lose.

Xenon 2000 (PC)
One more difference between the games: you don't lose your all your weapons when you explode in the original Xenon 2. I used to be a powerhouse of destruction, but now I can't even take on a baby version of the original level 1 boss.

Eventually my pitiful useless little fighter is taken out by a stray shot from a wall turret. I actually think I lasted longer in the original. Next game.

Bitmap Brothers games:
Part 1: Xenon (Atari ST)
Part 2: Speedball (Atari ST)
Part 3: Xenon 2 - Megablast (Amiga)
Part 4: Cadaver (Amiga)
Part 5: Speedball 2 - Brutal Deluxe (Amiga)
Part 6: Gods (Amiga)
Part 7: Magic Pockets (Amiga)
Part 8: The Chaos Engine (Amiga)
Part 9: The Chaos Engine 2 (Amiga)
Part 10: Z (MS-DOS)

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