Saturday, 28 April 2012

Xenon (Atari ST)

Super Adventures in Bitmap Brothers Games - Game 1

You know, I suddenly have an inexplicable urge to play every game made by (legendary 16-bit era developer) 'The Bitmap Brothers' in chronological order. Or a week's worth of them anyway.

Okay, their first game was a space shoot 'em up called Xenon. I can tell that without even playing it because, well, what else is a game called Xenon going to be?

Huh, the game starts with my generic grey starfighter autopiloting backwards through the entire level. So now I've got to dodge turret fire and blast through waves of enemy fighters just to get back to where I came from.

Hey look, one of the programmers dropped by wearing his trademark Bitmap shades to tell me that I'm in 'SECTOR ONE'.

That must have BLOWN PEOPLE'S MINDS back in 1988, seeing a 'video clip' with speech in on their home computer. Well, okay probably not.

For whatever reason my spacefighter automatically transformed into this tank thing when it reached the start of the level, so now I'm driving around the screen instead. It apparently fires off batteries instead of bullets, but they still get the job done.

I don't know who I'm fighting here, but they seem like decent enough folks. I mean sure they're obliged to fire at tanks breaking into their base, but whenever I destroy one of their turrets its lift goes back down and they send me up a power up to show there's no hard feelings.

Haha, you can't get me now you evil robot alien ladybirds, I've turned back into a spacefighter! And I have no idea how I did it.

I've got a full 'A' bar on the right now, maybe that's got something to do with it. I don't know, the whole panel's a mess of cryptic letters. I'm pretty sure the F gauge is my health, and R is probably my speed.

Oh shit, now I'm a tank again, and those little bastards have me pinned in a corner. I guess a power up must have worn off or something.


Okay I've tried this level a few times now, and I've managed to figure some stuff out. Like the fact that I start with three lives and no continues and it's easy to lose them all on the first stage. Plus my first guess was that the grid of letters on the bottom right could be the level password, but now I'm pretty sure it's telling me what pick ups I have.

Oh, also I've learned that I can backtrack through the level in tank form. And it's a dumb idea, because it puts me right at the bottom of the screen so I can't see what I'm driving into. Finding that out cost me another life, so I've got one left now.


Fortunately losing a life didn't set me back too far through the level, and now I've finally figured out how to transform between tank and fighter. It seems have to waggle the joystick. Seriously, all those times I accidentally transformed was because I was trying to dodge between bullets.

Plus now I've finally got some proper hardware on my fighter. Lasers, 8 directional missile launchers, weapon pods...

Son of a bitch! I reached the boss two seconds after picking up the laser, and my fighter automatically transformed back into tank form. A tank which apparently can't use lasers. Oh, and my homing missiles ran out.

Damn this guy is fast, or maybe I'm just really slow. Either way I'm really struggling to get out of the way in time. I'm going to trying driving around behind him and shooting him in the back.

And then it turns out that my tank can only go halfway up the screen, and while I'm stuck on an invisible wall the enemy moves back up and instakills me. GAME OVER.

I did give the level another shot, but even with a full set of lives I still couldn't beat this thing, and I really don't care enough to try again. Not when I have to replay the last section of level every time it blows me up. 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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