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|Category||Vertical scrolling shooter|
|Players||1 or 2 players alternating|
|Publisher||Namco, Atari, Nintendo (3D Classics)|
|Game advisories and suggested ages|
|ESRB||E (Everyone) (GBA, VC, XBLA, 3DS)|
|Japan||1982, Virtual Console: September 1, 2009|
Xevious (ゼビウス, Zebiusu) is a vertical-scrolling shooter arcade game by Namco, released in 1982. The game was designed by Masanobu Endoh, who often went by the nickname Evezoo. In the US, Xevious was manufactured and distributed by Atari. Xevious runs on Namco Galaga Hardware.
Xevious was one of the earliest vertical scrolling shooters, and greatly influenced games in this genre. The graphics were revolutionary for their time, and characters were rendered with remarkable clarity and effect through careful use of shades of grey and palette-shifting. In 1983, the original Xevious was the first arcade game to actually have a television commercial aired for it in the U.S. Atari promoted the game with the slogan "Are you devious enough to beat Xevious?" and closed the commercial with a tag line branding it "the arcade game you can't play at home."
Xevious was also one of the first games to have hidden bonuses. These were not mentioned in the original game manual, and required a special manoeuvre to find. Among these was the 'special flag' which first appeared in Rally-X. In this game the flag gave the player an extra life, and this feature was carried over to numerous subsequent Namco games. (In the original Arcade version a DIP Switch existed which would change the bonus to 10,000 points. Most ports, however, do not include this option - in particular, Namco Museum DS denies the use of this switch).
Another, lesser-known secret exists in the game's code. At the start of the game, go directly to the right side of the screen and continually fire Blaster Bombs. After a few shots, the message "NAMCO ORIGINAL/program by EVEZOO" will briefly appear on screen. Namco added this "secret" message to the game for two reasons. The first was to ensure people gave credit to Masanobu Endoh for the game, as many companies were annoyed that people were enjoying games but not crediting the people behind them.
The second reason was to prevent piracy by giving a way to check if a game was legitimate. Many people were illegally copying Namco's software and modifying it for their own gain, and sometimes these modified versions would be distributed and the buyer unaware of its illegitimacy. Copies of the game that were detected to the pirated, would not show the "NAMCO ORIGINAL" message, but instead show the message "DEAD COPY production/copy under NAMCO program". DEAD COPY was in yellow to further emphasize that the game was illegal. It is unknown how many pirated copies were discovered and disposed of thanks to this.
Differences between Japanese and US Version
The US Version of Xevious only allowed three characters for length in the High Score Table; the original Japanese Version allowed for ten. The names appearing in the High Scores by default in the Japanese Version are pseudonyms of the game designers and music composers who worked on the game.
The zapper and blaster buttons were reversed between the Japanese and US versions, presumably because of the majority change in handedness between the eastern and western world.
While it saw limited popularity in the U.S., Xevious was a huge cult hit in Japan, and to this day is considered one of the greatest video-games of all time. Popular musicians Haruomi Hosono (Yellow Magic Orchestra) and Keisuke Kuwata (Southern All Stars) were known to be fans of the game, and the former produced an album of music from Namco video-games, with Xevious as its centrepiece. A follow-up 12" single featured in its liner notes an entire science-fiction short story by Endoh, set in the world of Xevious, with even a rudimentary fictional language.
Sequels and Spin Offs
Super Xevious is the direct sequel to Xevious, released in 1984. The gameplay is very much like the original Xevious except this time it is a little more difficult. Several new enemies were introduced in this game, including a silver Galaxian flagship, a rare silver Galaga scorpion ship, two jet planes, a helicopter and a dark yellow grobda tank. The hidden towers (AKA "Sol Citadels") were also located in different places. Super Xevious was recently revived, along with Xevious, in Namco Museum DS, and has also appeared in Namco Classic Collection Vol. 1 and Xevious 3D/G+.
The "Secret Message" from Xevious still exists in Super Xevious, but it has caused controversy. The Super Xevious message for official copies is "Special thanks for you/from game designer EVEZOO". Oddly, however, this message also appears in some pirated versions of the game, suggesting that the piracy check from Xevious may have been removed in Super Xevious. Namco Museum DS seems to prove this, as while there is an option in the Namco Museum DS version of Xevious to change the game to Super Xevious, the "Pirated Version" option disappears after doing so.
Other games in the Series
- Solvalou (1991) presented the same game with a pilot's-eye view. The game used 3-D flat shaded polygon graphics. Released in Japan only.
- Xevious 3D/G (1995) was an update on the classic with 3-D texture mapped polygon graphics and a simultaneous two-player feature. Released in Japan only.
- Xevious Arrangement (1995) was part of the Namco Classic Collection Vol. 1 game collection (along with the original Xevious and Super Xevious). The arranged version had improved music and graphics and different levels.
- Grobda (1984) was a spin-off starring an enemy character -- the tank with corkscrew treads.
In Japan, three new versions were released for home systems:
- Super Xevious: GAMP no Nazo (1986) was released for the Nintendo Famicom and the Nintendo Vs. series on the Arcades. You must solve riddles in each stage in order to progress. Unless you meet certain criteria the stage loops indefinitely, getting harder and harder in the process.
- Xevious: Fardraut Saga (1988) was released for the MSX2 computers and developed by Compile. You can select between two modes at the title screen, Recon (port of the original Arcade Xevious) and Scramble, which is a new 16 area game with new enemies and 4 different ships to play with (Solvalou, Solgrado, Zeodalley and Gampmission).
- Xevious: Fardraut Densetsu (1990) was released for the PC Engine and also developed by Compile. This is the sequel to Fardraut Saga and it features two modes of play selectable from the title screen, Original (port of the original Arcade Xevious) and Fardraut, which is a 4 stage story mode with cut-scenes, power-ups and a different ship on each level.