So the confusion is out of the way, Hudson’s new title, Xexyz is pronounced (zeks’iz). That still doesn’t mean that an intern at the developer’s office didn’t accidentally spill coffee on a keyboard and this is the title we ended up with. No matter what you call it, our first impressions were “another one of these?” And by “these” we mean yet another space shooter for the NES. However, despite the saturation of the market with these me-too type games, this one managed to hook us for a little bit longer than most.
Xexyz takes place in the distant year of 2777. In this dismal future, our planet has been ravaged by disasters, both natural and nuclear. The Earth is now made up of five islands, each with different climates and landscapes. A being from outer space called Goruza invades the islands (together known as Xexyz), kidnaps the queens on each, and sets loose mechanical monsters on the land. You play as the solider Apollo tasked with retaking Xexyz and saving the queens. During the game very little of the story is featured. This game mixes two types of gameplay and draws many similarities to Blaster Master, The Guardian Legend, and Monster Party, although never quite rises to the heights of any of them. This is a unique title that tries to do a little bit of everything and for that it deserves some credit.
The game starts off in the action/platforming sequence. Apollo is armed with a simple blasting weapon that is used to fight off the robotic enemies. There is a fair amount of running and jumping, but nothing overly difficult as long as you don’t fall into the water. You have a respectable life meter and continues are infinite.
Each stage has many rooms in which you can enter. In these you’ll usually find allies who will give hints, upgrade your weapon, sell you power-ups, provide quick bonus games, and sometimes there will even be mini-boss battles. In order to get through the stages, you’ll have to locate the hidden Force Star. These are found fairly easily if you talk to everyone and get the proper hint, but this does involve some backtracking. This part of the game is quite reminiscent of Monster Party– only without the quirky humor.
You’ll then progress into the castle, which features a preliminary shooting portion, as well as a short maze to navigate. At the end of the third act of the stage you’ll fight the boss. The even numbered stages feature space-shooting levels, very similar to Life Force. In these you must simply get to the end of the stage to defeat the boss. You still have the same life meter, and you can pick up speed or power boosters.
The weapons in the action stages are my favorite part of the game. You begin with a simple hand beam – great for shooting down baddies, but the real fun comes when you obtain or purchase powerful upgrades. We’re talking cool weapons like the laser, Moon Ball, Wave Ball, and the 45B Ball (that darn intern and his slippery fingers at the keyboard). Hey, I said these are cool weapons. I never said they had amazing names. These all have different abilities and increase the damage that you inflict. Getting these upgrades is fairly simple, as currency is plentiful and visiting each room provides you with plenty of resources.
The game’s futuristic and apocalyptic atmosphere feels fresh – rather than a wasteland, we have colorful and unique environments. All the common enemies are robotic versions of animals, with names such as Dolfix and Shrix. The bosses are all quite large, and require quick reflexes and pattern memorization. The music certainly has a somewhat eerie tone to it, which fits the game’s theme.
Xexyz has a lot of bright spots and the variance in gameplay helps keep the game interesting. However, there’s really nothing the game does incredibly well to make it stand out from its peers. It has a good length of 12 total stages, and probably best of all for many gamers out there is that, thanks to infinite continues and a password system, it’s not overly difficult like some of its competition. The problem is that after awhile the enemies and stages begin to all look alike and nothing is all that memorable. Suffice to say the game won’t win awards for audio-visuals.
Perhaps the biggest flaw is the flow of the game suffers because you constantly have to enter a bunch of little rooms to get hints and acquire upgrades. Still, even with these small faults I had a good time playing the game and it’s definitely a cut above most of the other shooters currently available. Thankfully it’s not some arcade port from the early ‘80s that seem to crop up every couple of months on the NES. If you’ve mastered Blaster Master and The Guardian Legend, then give this one a shot.
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
This is a fine game and is certainly worth at least a rental. It has plenty of little drawbacks, but hardly anything major. It just fails to do anything truly magical in the gaming world. Games have a lot more to live up to coming off the recent release of Super Mario Bros. 3, but I understand that not every game gets unlimited development time with hundreds of thousands of dollars thrown at it. I still put a lot of time into this game and enjoyed my visit to Xexyz.
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.