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Old 22 February 2020, 06:49   #61
Steril707
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Originally Posted by robinsonb5 View Post
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?
You could not replicate that assignment of colours with the Amigas dual playfield mode, which you would need for the parallax effect.

Unfortunately on the Amiga, the bitplanes are 3 - 3 (8 colours/7 colours) instead of 4 -2 (16 to 4 colours) for both playfields.. Imo the biggest disadvantage of the Amiga chipset. But there was probably a good reason to design it that way, transistor cost wise.
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Old 22 February 2020, 09:57   #62
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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.
Can't believe we're still floggin' this dead horse on page 4

It's funny because imo most of the above negatives can be applied to the praised competitors: Hybris has a ridiculous designer-on-acid gfx and Battle Squadron is really boring when it comes to gameplay. Xenon 2 beats both of them hands down on fx & gameplay level.

But these are subjective things and shouldn't be really used as arguments in discussion. The only real one is the tech stuff and sure, Xenon 2 suffers in this department. The thing is, it's still perfectly playable and fun too. This is why it was a hit, not because people got their heads turned by a fancy tune and then didn't get past the first level.

For me it's neither a "best shooter in the world" or a "turd" - just a decent Amiga game deserving a ~7.8 - 8.3 score.
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Old 22 February 2020, 13:45   #63
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That's Bitmap Brothers and Dan Malone style for you, at least until Chaos Engine...
Er, Dan Malone didnt join until Speedball 2, all Bitmap Bros games before then were Mark Coleman.
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Old 22 February 2020, 19:37   #64
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Hybris has a ridiculous designer-on-acid gfx
Each to his own mate, but I think they are fantastic and some of the closest to give me the vibe I associate with 80s coin-op games.
The annoying thing is that I can't factually tell you why as I suspect just using that palette would not suffice, you probably have to contrast the pixels correctly to get the effect too. There are so many games with obviously good drawing skills, but which I can only describe as "bland" and muted when looking at them.
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Old 22 February 2020, 19:57   #65
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Each to his own mate, but I think they are fantastic and some of the closest to give me the vibe I associate with 80s coin-op games.
The annoying thing is that I can't factually tell you why as I suspect just using that palette would not suffice, you probably have to contrast the pixels correctly to get the effect too. There are so many games with obviously good drawing skills, but which I can only describe as "bland" and muted when looking at them.
I second that, Hybris evoked typical early 80's coin ops, and gave the impression of an arcade machine on a home computer.

The choice of colours was important, because it highlighted why there would never be an Atari ST version, that it would be a compromise too far for the developers.

Hybris was a game of its time, and it stands up well, especially when you consider the copyright date on it is 1987-88, which means both Martin Pedersen and Torben Larsen were on Hybris very early, and kinda puts the efforts of some UK devs into perspective.
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Old 22 February 2020, 20:25   #66
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Hybris is far better than the boring and technically flawed Xenon II, the latter is not even close. Hybris is strongly inspired by the Arcade classic Terra Cresta. It's some kind of a deluxe version of it. And for 1988 it was a great achievement. Cope-Com knew their stuff.
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Old 22 February 2020, 20:48   #67
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I second that, Hybris evoked typical early 80's coin ops, and gave the impression of an arcade machine on a home computer.

The choice of colours was important, because it highlighted why there would never be an Atari ST version, that it would be a compromise too far for the developers.

Hybris was a game of its time, and it stands up well, especially when you consider the copyright date on it is 1987-88, which means both Martin Pedersen and Torben Larsen were on Hybris very early, and kinda puts the efforts of some UK devs into perspective.
This ^

And... Martin coded it when he was at school and didn't use a hard drive, used floppies.

If I was going to show case a game for the Amiga to someone who had never seen one before then Hybris would be the game, instantly playable, amazing music, technically superb, awesome graphics.
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Old 22 February 2020, 21:30   #68
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Hybris is far better than the boring and technically flawed Xenon II, the latter is not even close.
I found Xenon II to be far more fun to play than Hybris. I could finish both back in the day, and found that Xenon II's progression through time periods to be much more attractive than Hybris.

Not that Hybris was in any way bad - I just enjoyed (and still do enjoy) Xenon II more. Hybris did have that kick-ass drum sequence though... So I'd say they're both roughly equal in the sound department.
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Old 22 February 2020, 21:53   #69
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I second that, Hybris evoked typical early 80's coin ops, and gave the impression of an arcade machine on a home computer.

The choice of colours was important, because it highlighted why there would never be an Atari ST version, that it would be a compromise too far for the developers.
I do love and play a lot of early 80's arcade games but can't recall even one which would feature so badly mismatched sprite and background colours, they are simply inconsistent and clash all over. They could go for either one or the other style and then it'd be okay - well, the early background one would (just like it is in Terra Cresta, Retro-Nerd because the sprite colours are mostly garish and awful.

But this was just a detail from my post, the main point was about subjectivity. Bringing up Hybris/BS was just an example of how trying to argue about stuff being boring/interesting, pretty/ugly is very relative and kinda irrelevant (similarly to mentioning their inspirations or some cool dev origin stories. I'm sure X2 also has some, but it has zero bearing on final product's quality).

And I have no problem admitting that despite their flaws both of these games are still pretty good. And so is Xenon 2. It doesn't seem we'll reach any compromise in regard to this matter though, since you guys seem determined to stick to the "total shit/turd/disaster" option
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Old 22 February 2020, 21:59   #70
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Something I always find amusing when talking about the quality of a game (and I'm sure I've been guilty of this as well) is the amount of posts that claim Xenon II is a bad game, rather than these posts making far more correct and less confrontational statements like that they think or feel Xenon II is a bad game, or that Xenon II is a bad game, in their opinion.

After all, there are not that many games that are objectively good or bad (gameplay wise, tech stuff is slightly easier - but even that is not as cut and dried as people make it out). All there really are is games which more or less people enjoy playing. In the case of the games we end up talking the most, many of them (Xenon II definitely included) were/are actually enjoyed by quite a few people. Originally, certainly thousands - perhaps even tens or hundreds of thousands. To me, that automatically disqualifies a game from being labelled as "bad" (given that the point of games is make sure people have fun).

Doesn't mean that some games don't come very close to being objectively bad (Outrun on Amiga is an example I'd use), but as long as a group of people enjoy playing it, IMHO you can't really seriously hold to a position of absolute value statement, such as "game X is good/game Y is bad".

Apologies for the rather strange tangent I've taken here

To make up for it, here's my opinion on the intro's of both games. Having listened to both again just to make sure, I'd say the Amiga version sounds better to me. It may be slightly less consistently timed, but it is a full song rather than a low quality looping sample.
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:09   #71
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Something I always find amusing when talking about the quality of a game (and I'm sure I've been guilty of this as well) is the amount of posts that claim Xenon II is a bad game, rather than these posts making far more correct and less confrontational statements like that they think or feel Xenon II is a bad game, or that Xenon II is a bad game, in their opinion.

After all, there are not that many games that are objectively good or bad (gameplay wise, tech stuff is slightly easier but even that is not as cut and dried as people make it out). All there really are is games which more or less people enjoy playing. In the case of the games we end up talking the most, many of them (Xenon II definitely included) were/are actually enjoyed by quite a few people. Originally, certainly thousands - perhaps even tens or hundreds of thousands. To me, that automatically disqualifies a game from being labelled as "bad" (given that the point of games is make sure people have fun).

Doesn't mean that some games don't come very close to being objectively bad (Outrun on Amiga is an example I'd use), but as long as a group of people enjoy playing it, IMHO you can't really seriously hold to a position of absolute value statement, such as "game X is good/game Y is bad".

Apologies for the rather strange tangent I've taken here

To make up for it, here's my opinion on the intro's of both games. Having listened to both again just to make sure, I'd say the Amiga version sounds better to me. It may be slightly less consistently timed, but it is a full song rather than a low quality looping sample.
Sorry, but Xenon 2 is objectively bad because it is incapable of delivering a smooth experience that translates to a decent game playing experience.

1). Music is good
2). Graphics are good (especially as they are in 16 colours)

That's it for me.

Where Xenon 2 falls down is in these areas

1). Collision detection

It is DIRE in Xenon 2. I've literally seen my bullets pass through enemies and they not explode which is a pretty important failing.

2). Programming

The programming isn't upto the design spec the Bitmap Brothers set out, i.e. when things get hectic, the game slows down to a ridiculous pace, missing out frames, and I suspect where part of the collision detection problems occur.

3). Design

If you can get your arse kicked when you have every single mega weapon in the game, it then makes NO sense for you to lose ALL of that and be expected to continue at the same place.

If you couldn't do it with mega firepower, you've got no chance with a pea shooter.

I'll give it kudos points for being a formidable challenge, but then you have the piss taken out of you when you complete it.

4). No end game sequence

I still maintain its a great looking game, testament to what Mark Coleman could do with a limited palette, but its a bit like Beast, its very nice to look and and listen too, but its just too damned hard and punishes you too much when its likely the games design/programming failings that cause you to lose a life.
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:18   #72
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Galahad, are you sure Malone did not join until Speedball2? I can see differences in how graphics is drawn and palette is handled from Xenon 1 / Speedball 1 to Xenon 2/Cadaver and to Speedball 2/gods/Magic Pockets/Chaos Engine, where Xenon 2 is more similar to Speedball 2 in this regard and the palette acquire the signature grey/gold coloring, unless there were cooperations going on before...

[and on complete OT also i felt that most of the mechanics of the first speedball could translate in a real life sport with not too much spending]

Last edited by saimon69; 22 February 2020 at 22:23.
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:23   #73
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Sorry, but Xenon 2 is objectively bad because it is incapable of delivering a smooth experience that translates to a decent game playing experience.
Sorry, IMHO you're simply wrong here.

Games have only one real purpose: making sure people have fun playing them. Everything else is completely irrelevant. Tech stuff? Irrelevant. Collision coding? Irrelevant. Art? Irrelevant. As long as at least a reasonably sized group of people enjoy it, a game succeeds at it's core "function" and automatically ceases to be objectively bad.

Many, many people have enjoyed playing Xenon II. So, objectively, it's a success as a game. It's really that simple. Everything else is just not important.

You, me and many more don't like it - but that is purely subjective. Even the stuff you list is subjective (and I say this, while I agree with most of it!). But it's ultimately all irrelevant - a fairly large group of people found it fun, so it's not an objectively bad game.

And I really, really do not like this game. But I'll defend it not being a "bad" game (from an objective viewpoint, I don't care about anyone having the opinion it's bad) as long as there is evidence many people did/do like it. Edit: to be clear, I'm not saying that therefore Xenon II is an objectively good game. Just that it isn't objectively bad

Last edited by roondar; 22 February 2020 at 22:43. Reason: Made sure it's clear that this is my opinion ;)
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:41   #74
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Xenon II is style over substance. Of course it's objectively bad when it comes down to pure gameplay. There is no question.

Yes, as some said you can't of course enjoy it. Even on the Amiga. But it doesn't make it a good shmup. Are the Transformers movies any good? I don't think so. But millions watched them anyway in cinemas around the world.
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:46   #75
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Galahad, are you sure Malone did not join until Speedball2? I can see differences in how graphics is drawn and palette is handled from Xenon 1 / Speedball 1 to Xenon 2/Cadaver and to Speedball 2/gods/Magic Pockets/Chaos Engine, where Xenon 2 is more similar to Speedball 2 in this regard and the palette acquire the signature grey/gold coloring, unless there were cooperations going on before...

[and on complete OT also i felt that most of the mechanics of the first speedball could translate in a real life sport with not too much spending]
No offence, but I don't even need to look on HOL to know who did what graphics for the Bitmap Brothers.

Mark Coleman did the graphics for Xenon, Xenon 2, Magic Pockets, Gods

Dan Malone started with Speedball 2, then did Cadaver then the 2 Chaos Engine games.

They both have such individual styles that I can't see how you can mix the two up?!
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:51   #76
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Xenon II is style over substance. Of course it's objectively bad when it comes down to pure gameplay. There is no question.
Yes there is, many people disagree with you. Some have stated this in this very thread. Their opinions are just as valid as yours or mine. This is pretty much my entire point

Quote:
Yes, as some said you can't of course enjoy it. Even on the Amiga. But it doesn't make it a good shmup. Are the Transformers movies any good? I don't think so. But millions watched them anyway in cinemas around the world.
There is a difference between not being "objectively bad" and being "objectively good". That the Transformers movies are enjoyed by many proves that they can't be "objectively bad". It does not prove that they are "objectively good" though. No matter how much the fans of the movie might want that to be true, no matter what arguments they use to try and prove it.


Similarly, just because you, me and many others didn't like or even outright hated Xenon II/the Tranformers movie, that does not mean they are "objectively bad". No matter how much we might want this to be true, no matter what arguments we use to try and prove it so.
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:52   #77
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Ok, then it's just bad taste in genre.
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:53   #78
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They both have such individual styles that I can't see how you can mix the two up?!
Color schemes; i admit Dan add to the grey/gold base without distancing from it too much
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Old 22 February 2020, 22:53   #79
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Sorry, IMHO you're simply wrong here.

Games have only one real purpose: making sure people have fun playing them. Everything else is completely irrelevant. Tech stuff? Irrelevant. Collision coding? Irrelevant. Art? Irrelevant. As long as at least a reasonably sized group of people enjoy it, a game succeeds at it's core "function" and automatically ceases to be objectively bad.

Many, many people have enjoyed playing Xenon II. So, objectively, it's a success as a game. It's really that simple. Everything else is just not important.

You, me and many more don't like it - but that is purely subjective. Even the stuff you list is subjective (and I say this, while I agree with most of it!). But it's ultimately all irrelevant - a fairly large group of people found it fun, so it's not an objectively bad game.

And I really, really do not like this game. But I'll defend it not being a "bad" game (from an objective viewpoint, I don't care about anyone having the opinion it's bad) as long as there is evidence many people did/do like it. Edit: to be clear, I'm not saying that therefore Xenon II is an objectively good game. Just that it isn't objectively bad
Then by your own measure, Xenon 2 is objectively bad

If I play it and I can't have fun with it because of its design shortcomings prevent me returning to it, then it has failed.

I don't see how bad collision detection can be "subjective", the aim of the game is to destroy your enemies before they do you, if the weapons you are equipped with have periods where they simply don't destroy your enemies, then there is a design problem that goes against the aim of the game.

Similarly, if the game slows down to such a snails pace that the program is struggling to help you as the player make sense of wtf is going on, again, its subjectively bad.

Note: This is one of those times when the technicality and the abilities of the programmers actually hamper the game.

Gods also has crap programming with regards to not using the Amiga properly, however, it has a consistent frame rate that never affects gameplay, and its slow pace isn't a detriment to the game, because it was clearly programmed with consistency throughout.

Xenon 2 is the opposite of that, Xenon 2 HAS to be objectively better programmed because of the faster paced onscreen action otherwise you get punished not because of a fault of the player, but because a programming error which means you were never going to get by on your game playing skill, you got by either by luck or you simply didn't because the game design failed you.

Well thats my two pence anyway
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Old 22 February 2020, 23:08   #80
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Then by your own measure, Xenon 2 is objectively bad
Sorry, it's only objectively bad by my measure if no one liked it. Try again
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If I play it and I can't have fun with it because of its design shortcomings prevent me returning to it, then it has failed
But only for you personally, which is something I would completely agree with.

However, claiming it's failed as a game for everyone* because you didn't like it is elevating your opinion to fact, or claiming your opinion is "better" than that of other people. And I actually fundamentally disagree with that notion. We're all of equal value and so are our opinions

*) or say, claiming it's objectively bad
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Xenon 2 is the opposite of that, Xenon 2 HAS to be objectively better programmed because of the faster paced onscreen action otherwise you get punished not because of a fault of the player, but because a programming error which means you were never going to get by on your game playing skill, you got by either by luck or you simply didn't because the game design failed you.
Well, that is your opinion - and mine as well. But, those who enjoyed it clearly disagree with us and their opinion is just as valid as yours or mine. If we call it bad and they call it good, who the heck are we to claim our opinion is somehow better than theirs? Surely that doesn't make sense? Which is all I'm really trying to say.

Edit: reading it now I see I've made one of those multi-quote monster posts again. Sorry about that, I think my position is now clear enough so I'll try to stop making these huge posts.
Edit 2: I've cut some stuff out, it's not required to make my point and only makes this post massive.
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