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Old 21 February 2020, 07:10   #41
Steril707
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Xenon 2 feels to me, like it was made for looking good on screenshots.

I mean, it looks really really gorgeous. I remember i almost couldn't believe it when I saw how the game looks in magazines.

But I also remember how disappointed I was when I played it first time.

* the frame rate is horrible
* almost every "Euro SHMUP" trope is present here. Shop system, life energy, stupid shit like scrolling backwards through a level, bad hit detection, etc.
* the games controls feel so floaty. Many shots don't seem to connect to their targets.
* it's painful to even watch a play through, since the music really goes on your nerves. Or to be more precise, that constant cutting off of samples in the played music just because you are firing your weapons. Why they didn't use all of the 4 Paula channels and give one to sound effects all the time is beyond my knowledge.

I would give the game...

gfx: 9/10
music(intro): 8.5/10
music(ingame): 2/10
gameplay: 5/10

What a wasted chance...

Last edited by Steril707; 21 February 2020 at 07:17.
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Old 21 February 2020, 10:32   #42
roondar
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Originally Posted by Steril707 View Post
* almost every "Euro SHMUP" trope is present here. Shop system, life energy, stupid shit like scrolling backwards through a level, bad hit detection, etc.
One thing I've always found strange is this insistence that these kind of things are "Euro SHUMP" tropes. Not really Xenon-II related, nor in any way aimed at you specifically, but it's so obvious to me that there's some rather selective blindness in the retro-community when it comes to this stuff. Certain things are mentioned as flaws or poor design choices in European games, but are given a free pass or outright ignored when they happen in Japanese games.

Case in point: just about all the things you mention either originated in Japanese shoot em ups first or happen in Japanese games as well.

Bad collision detection? Happens all the time in all sorts of console and arcade games. Many speedrun tactics even center around abusing these faulty game mechanics.
Shops in games that needlessly break up game play? Try Un-Squadron/Forgotten Worlds/Black Tiger/Fantasy Zone/etc
Life Energy? Un-Squadron (again)/Pretty much all Hudson Soft shoot em ups*/Gaia Seed/The Guardian Legend (by Compile of all people)/1943/etc

*) These don't show you a bar, but each power up you collect increases the number of hit points you have. In many ways this is far worse, as now the player a) still can get hit but b) doesn't know exactly when they will or will not die.

Again, this is 100% not aimed at you, but rather at this idea that Euro-SHMUPS are bad because of game mechanics like these, when in fact Japanese games often implemented these things first and certainly didn't exclude them later on. Not to mention that quite a few Euro-SHMUPS exist that do not feature any of these problems.

Far more problematic is that the Japanese games that do include these features tend to do so in extremely similar fashions and thus should receive the same criticisms, but don't: shops in Euro-SHUMPS are "loathed" because they break immersion and slow the game down. Japanese games with shops have the exact same problems, but are lauded for including the shops.

Life bars in Euro-SHUMPS are "terrible", because they allow the game to be designed to be too difficult and remove some of the thrill of getting through difficult sections. The same is true in Japanese games that feature life-bars, but no one marks those games down for it. Etc.

Last edited by roondar; 21 February 2020 at 10:38.
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Old 21 February 2020, 11:27   #43
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I don't say that japanese games don't have these bad gameplay mechanics, it's just seems almost all european SHMUPs have them in spades.

Also, I'd argue that a "Armour up" mechanic is very different to and a bit better in the gameplay department than a life bar.
Usually you have a full lifebar from the beginning of the level, and it gets depleted and maybe filled up again by extras. Also, the amount of life that gets drained seems to be not on per hit base, but usually on per time of being in a collission zone.

"Armour up" usually means you start with no free collission, and earn free collissions per power up. And in my experience, this gets counted down with each collission by one (and usually also causes a degradation of weapon systems), not by time staying in the collission zone.

Those two mechanics feel VERY different to me, game play wise.
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Old 21 February 2020, 11:38   #44
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I don't say that japanese games don't have these bad gameplay mechanics, it's just seems almost all european SHMUPs have them in spades.
I 100% disagree.

There are tons of Euro SHUMPS without these problems. This is exactly what I'm talking about by the way, you have this perception that "almost all" European SHMUPs have these problems, but it's just not true.
Edit: even on the Amiga there are far more SHUMPS without life bars, shops, backwards scrolling or similar "nuisances" than with them. Same with collision detection - poor collision detection seems to be just as common in Japanese games as in Euro games.

Edit 2: for the record, I'm not trying to single you out here, it's just you happened to mention it and I felt it was something that needs to be said at least once.
Quote:
Also, I'd argue that a "Armour up" mechanic is very different to and a bit better in the gameplay department than a life bar.
Usually you have a full lifebar from the beginning of the level, and it gets depleted and maybe filled up again by extras. Also, the amount of life that gets drained seems to be not on per hit base, but usually on per time of being in a collission zone.

"Armour up" usually means you start with no free collission, and earn free collissions per power up. And in my experience, this gets counted down with each collission by one (and usually also causes a degradation of weapon systems), not by time staying in the collission zone.

Those two mechanics feel VERY different to me, game play wise.
While this is perhaps true, I also named several Japanese games that have a traditional life bar and not an armour system. It really isn't a Euro-SHMUP only thing.

Last edited by roondar; 21 February 2020 at 11:50.
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Old 21 February 2020, 11:55   #45
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I'm afraid I agree with Steril707. Euro "shmups" suck. Except Apidya, you have to love that game. But it could be argued that it's a Japanese style shooter.

Check out the PC Engine or Megadrive for a proper game. Thunderforce IV for example (which also has one of the best video game soundtracks of all time). Omake 3 is my favourite, and it wasn't even used in the game.

Edit: Also check out Lightning Strikes Again, Simmer Down, Metal Squad, Stand Up Against Myself.

This game doesn't just rip any shooter on the Amiga a new asshole. It rips it a million new assholes.

Last edited by Hewitson; 21 February 2020 at 12:08.
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Old 21 February 2020, 12:47   #46
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Originally Posted by Steril707 View Post
I would give the game...

gfx: 9/10
music(intro): 8.5/10
music(ingame): 2/10
gameplay: 5/10

What a wasted chance...
And yet, even to this day, you are part of a vocal minority. Plenty of people love it and it consistently gets good user ratings across a range of sites.

So just because you personally don't like it doesn't mean it's a bad game, no matter how much you want your opinion to be adopted by everyone else.
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Old 21 February 2020, 13:00   #47
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Originally Posted by Hewitson View Post
I'm afraid I agree with Steril707. Euro "shmups" suck. Except Apidya, you have to love that game. But it could be argued that it's a Japanese style shooter.

Check out the PC Engine or Megadrive for a proper game. Thunderforce IV for example (which also has one of the best video game soundtracks of all time). Omake 3 is my favourite, and it wasn't even used in the game.

Edit: Also check out Lightning Strikes Again, Simmer Down, Metal Squad, Stand Up Against Myself.

This game doesn't just rip any shooter on the Amiga a new asshole. It rips it a million new assholes.
I've played tons of Japanese arcade & console shoot em ups. Liked a great deal of them a lot. Also played plenty of C64/Amiga shooters that I really liked. Games like SWIV, Apidya, Uridium II and Hybris can stand on their own as great games. I actually like SWIV so much (yes, even with the low frame rate which doesn't bother me even a little bit in that game) that I've been half-half considering making a video about it.

Playing Thunderforce IV, Blazing Lazers, Star Soldier, Gradius, Salamander, the PC-Engine version of R-Type, Aleste, etc, etc, etc... has not changed this idea at all. Rather, it has reinforced it: there are good shoot em ups on the Amiga. There are plenty of bad ones (like Xenon-II, which I genuinely dislike with a passion), but that does not change the fact there are good ones as well. You can argue about the quantity and sure, some better known ones are overrated, but that is ultimately irrelevant.

Edit: it's even more irrelevant because the point here was about euro-shmups and there are some great non-Amiga shooters as well. There are a bunch of stellar C64 shooters for instance. All European, still great fun.

Last edited by roondar; 21 February 2020 at 13:13. Reason: Added more about SWIV, cuz I like it so much ;)
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Old 21 February 2020, 14:39   #48
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it's even more irrelevant because the point here was about euro-shmups and there are some great non-Amiga shooters as well. There are a bunch of stellar C64 shooters for instance. All European, still great fun.
Agreed, there are very nice SHMUPs from Europe (like SWIV, imo as well), and bad ones from Japan and elsewhere.

Quote:
And yet, even to this day, you are part of a vocal minority. Plenty of people love it and it consistently gets good user ratings across a range of sites.

So just because you personally don't like it doesn't mean it's a bad game, no matter how much you want your opinion to be adopted by everyone else.
I definitely don't want my opinion on it to be adopted by everyone else. What a boring world that would be...
I can totally understand people who think this is the best SHMUP ever. There are so many factors playing into something like that.

Yet, I am allowed to have and voice my own opinion about this and other games as well..

And in that opinion, Xenon2 is a turd...
(an extremely polished one, though... )
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Old 21 February 2020, 15:02   #49
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So what vertical scrolling shmups prior to 1989 would be considered better than "Xenon 2"?
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Old 21 February 2020, 15:34   #50
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probably same people who complain about Gods complain about Xenon II, they were good games sold well people liked then and various spin offs were done because there so popular.
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Old 21 February 2020, 16:04   #51
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So what vertical scrolling shmups prior to 1989 would be considered better than "Xenon 2"?
Hybris would be a major one before.

Not many before then because programmers were still getting to grips with the Amiga, which Xenon 2 shows.
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Old 21 February 2020, 21:01   #52
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I also prefered the first Xenon musically on the ST. Yes I know it uses one less channel, but Whittaker insisted on using that nasty electric guitar sample on the Amiga version, and its cut too short, i.e. no-one would EVER play an electric guitar in that way, and it just sounds horrible.
Well, i guess David took what was around, and that guitar was there since the dawn of ti - er Amiga... (at 6:31)
[ Show youtube player ]

But then got used and abused around (yup, Hard Drivin, am looking at you) and became the most unbearable instrument of the tool...

To be honest the first time i heard that on Xenon in 1987, coming from my speccy 48 did blow my socks off, having this machine playing like a darn metal band in my stereo!!!
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Old 21 February 2020, 21:07   #53
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* almost every "Euro SHMUP" trope is present here. Shop system, life energy, stupid shit like scrolling backwards through a level, bad hit detection, etc.
Another disagreement: i actually feel that the Backwards scrolling is underrated, it just need to find a reason to be adopted in the first place, though...
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Old 21 February 2020, 21:09   #54
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I hate Colin Shop in this version: "That will cost: ..." - and then pause, instead of a price.
They should have done a group of samples for the price, rather than stream the voice (of Richard Joseph, nonetheless) from the CD... maybe they ran out of space?

And is interesting how the way the soundtrack is organised did anticipate what later has been done by games like Need for speed and other car games on newer generation consoles

Last edited by saimon69; 21 February 2020 at 21:16.
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Old 21 February 2020, 21:20   #55
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Originally Posted by LongLifeA1200 View Post
So what vertical scrolling shmups prior to 1989 would be considered better than "Xenon 2"?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
Hybris would be a major one before.

Not many before then because programmers were still getting to grips with the Amiga, which Xenon 2 shows.
Yep, Hybris was the massive standout before Xenon 2 for vertical schmups.

IMHO, the vertical scrolling levels of the hybrid vertical/horizontal scroller Phantom Fighter were pretty good! It's just the game in its totality was too short, with only 5-6 levels IIRC and none of them all that long before you hit the end-of-level guardians. SideWinder is the other standout - not as brilliant or stylish as Hybris or Phantom Fighter, for mine, but very, very solid gameplay with lotsa action and well-laid out levels that just kept you coming back for one more game.
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Old 21 February 2020, 21:23   #56
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Phantom Fighter was not bad but the colors were so muddy and uninspired, at least on the early levels...

Last edited by saimon69; 21 February 2020 at 21:31.
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Old 21 February 2020, 23:52   #57
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Hybris is a great solid shooter, still love to play it today.
And it's successor, Battle Squadron (which came out the same year as Xenon 2 btw) is IMO even an improvement.

Xenon 2 was NOT a good game. It was a show-off when you first heard the music and saw the first screens, and I think that's why it's got good ratings. But past that ?
Jerky scrolling, boring gameplay, music gets really annoying by the time (especially that you loose relevant music samples when sound effects are played). There's no graphic diversity in the levels, it's mostly the same brown/orange and grey for almost all the game.
Xenon 2 is really bland.
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Old 22 February 2020, 00:20   #58
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What would it take to "fix" Xenon II? If someone were to rewrite the graphics routines and improve the framerate so that the ship responded with less obvious lag, would that be enough? Would it be playable if the whole game were speeded up?
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Old 22 February 2020, 00:57   #59
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No, better speed wouldn't help. It would need a complete redesign.
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Old 22 February 2020, 03:47   #60
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There's no graphic diversity in the levels, it's mostly the same brown/orange and grey for almost all the game.
Xenon 2 is really bland.
That's Bitmap Brothers and Dan Malone style for you, at least until Chaos Engine...
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