Xenon 2: Megablast is vertically scrolling space shooter, in which you have to pass several levels, filled with waves of enemies, that all end with a level boss creature. Each group of enemies you destroy grants you a cash reward and every once in a while you enter Colin's Bargain Basement, where you can use this cash to purchase upgrades for your ship like better weapons, speed & health upgrades etc. Some upgrades can also be picked up during the levels.
The first part of the game has an organic feel to it, while the second part of the game features mechanical enemies. As there are some maze-like sections with dead-ends in the game, your spaceship scrolls backwards when you keep pressing the down key.
Xenon 2: Megablast was very popular when published. It was a straightforward shoot-them-up game where you pilot a spaceship and blow-up various space monsters.
Depending on the amount of monsters you killed and power-ups you picked up, you can buy miscellaneous weapons and craft upgrades at the end of the level.
Another thing that made this game even more popular was the 2-player mode. Maybe I'm just being nostalgic, but there is a certain charm in playing those arcade games crowded on one keyboard :)
The music from this game is very addictive and was remixed in many tracks after the games' release. Many games that emerged later, such as Raptor, were basically an improved version of Xenon.
All in all, a no-brainer fun game excellent for those long boring winter nights :)
An even better shooter than its original, Xenon 2 is a SHMUP masterpiece from Bitmap Brothers, although this PC version did not sell nearly as well as its Amiga counterpart. Piloting the "Megablaster" ship, your mission is to survive five levels, blasting hundreds of aliens in the process. The enemies are very creatively designed and more varied than in Xenon: each type of enemy ship has its own flying and attack patterns, including kamikaze (very nasty and hard to avoid). Most enemies you kill leave behind glass orbs which can be collected and used as currency to buy weapon upgrades and other power-ups for your ship. The shop is well stocked with a wide range of power-ups, from your basic energy boosts to a cool item called "Super Nashwan Power," which destroys everything on screen. There is also a little strategy involved in choosing what to buy next, although a lot of it comes from trial and error: if a rear-mounted gun is best for a certain level, you probably wouldn't know it until you already played that level and get killed in the process ;)
Like all Bitmap Bros. games, Xenon 2 introduces small but significant innovations to the genre. Chief among these is the ability to stop the parallax scrolling and scroll the screen backwards This isn't just a gimmick: at various points in the game, you need to use this feature to backtrack from a deadend, or to attack different parts of huge bosses. The game is more difficult than Xenon, but not so difficult as to be frustrating. And despite the steep learning curve, you will be too busy being addicted to notice ;)
The graphics and sounds are on par with other Bitmap Bros. games, which means they are superb throughout. Bitmap Brothers deserves recognition as one of the first game developers to use professional musicians to score their games. Definitely one of the best-looking and most fun SHMUP in PC gaming history, and a must-have for every shooter fan.
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