A classic vertical-scrolling spaceship game from the Eighties. Its first version was for the arcade, but there were conversions for several platforms, from videogames such as the NES (which I owned the cartridge), to computer systems, such as the Apple II.

You had two types of weapons: the regular air-air shots and the air-ground bombs (you always had a target ahead of you indicating the bomb's aim). Extra lives could be obtained shooting bombs to uncover flags that appeared in random places of the map, with absolutely no reference. One would just shoot bombs everywhere to look for flags.

There were several types of enemy ships and the occasional boss.

Each time you started a new life a characteristic fanfare (which I can still remember) played, with the message "X SOLVALOU LEFT" (where X is the number of remaining lives). To this day I wonder what Solvalou means in the Xevious universe: is it the ship's name, or the pilot's?...

IIRC, the game has no ending: the game just restarts from the beginning with more and faster enemies. This is an annoying characteristic of games of its age. (In case you're wondering, I never went that far -- my brother did)

In some ports the game had a different name -- I remember seeing it on the MSX named as Columbia. As usual in conversions (as oposed to ports), there were a few differences in the game.

Enough of memories of this game -- I have to go and download its ROM right now!!
Namco made their mark with space shooters twice before, with Galaxian in 1979, and Galaga in 1981. In 1982, however, it was time for something completely different. Xevious was the first vertical overhead scrolling space shooter to be released, and more or less kick-started the entire Shoot-em-up genre, spawning a million clones, from 1942 to Vulgus to Tiger-Heli to Aleste.

Addendum about the previously noted gameplay: the Xevious themeselves were the alien race that was invading, the Solvalou was your ship, those annoying floating mirrors are called Bacula Resistor Shields, and the proper title for the boss was Andor Genesis Mothership. The game was brought to North America by Atari, and was followed in 1984 by the more difficult "sequel" (although it's better just to call it a "tweaquel") Super Xevious, by a true sequel in 1990 (the 3D game Solvalou), and by another sequel, the lackluster Xevious^3 from 1996. Also, there's a form of side story involving the pilots of the alien tanks in 1984's Grobda.

As far as ports go it was first planned to be brought to the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200, and finally came to the Atari 7800, even though Namco themselves already beat Atari in the home version contest with their near-perfect Famicom/NES port. They followed it up with a pointless Famicom Disk System port of Super Xevious, and then brought it all together with the emulated ports of the original game and Super Xevious on the Playstation's Namco Museum volume 2, plus the Namco Classics-enhanced arrangement version on the PSX version of Xevious^3, known here as Xevious 3D/G. Other noted ports are for the MSX (yep, it was called Xevious - Columbia was a clone), the Apple II, the Amstrad CPC, the x68000, the Commodore 64, the PC Engine, and many others. Microsoft sells it back to Windows9x users in the Revenge of Arcade package, and it's been fully emulated in MAME for quite a while now.

Super Pac Man --- Mappy

(Namco '83)

I'm not a fan of Xevious by any means. I play it because it's the only arcade game left at Gameworks that I can still stand to sit down and take a punk at. It's upstairs with those other 'classic' arcade games. I mean, it's not like I'm truly familiar with the arcade scene of the early 80's, because I was a wee man back in those days, but I know classic when I see it. You give me a copy of Pac-Man, and I'll tell you what it was it was an original game. It set a trend, broke the rules, and allowed people to have something to turn to apart from pinball. But was it a classic?

Maybe, what the hell do I know? But if you wanna hear my opinion, I'd say "Fuck no."

Ms. Pac-man was the classic, because it improved upon the original game without breaking or severely altering the style of play that Pac-Man was known for. That's all I'm saying. I believe the classic shooter of the early 80's was Galaga (Namco '81). It improved upon Galaxian (Namco '79), making it less clunky. They continued making Galaga games throughout the eighties, like Galaga '84 and Galaga '88, but I think they knew what they had made with Xevious, as even though they did sneak a sequel out in '84, they let the name rot until '96, when they released another Xevious title, which I've never played, but I'll wager paled in comparison to Psyiko's Strikers 1945 series of games.

(According to the post above, I guess they also released one in 1990, and I'd still wager that the series, while having broken original ground, with the ability to move around on the screen, as well as side to side, was never that great)

At any rate, there's a copy of Xevious sitting sandwiched between Galaxian, the horrible precursor to a great series (think Street Fighter to Street Fighter II, if you've played Street Fighter), and Ms. Pac-Man, a game I'd consider a classic, but a classic which is currently played out for me (I used to play it at a diner in Missouri as a weekday night ritual, because I didn't want the food out of that greasehole, but I ended up there anyway a lot). I was never good at setting the high score on Ms. Pac-Man, partly because I felt like luck was a big factor in the game, and partly because I'm indifferent to games that make me feel like I'm running away from a pack of angry heavies while I loot their neighborhood.

So, Frogger and Ms. Pac-Man are up here with the classic games. I feel that the rest of the games up here should be put in another section labeled 'nostalgia,' or maybe I'm a video game snob, possibly an asshole. It's been said before.

Xevious is what I'm concentrated on, though. Once every week or so, I drive down to Gameworks and give it a play. I'm partial to fighting games myself, but the management of the place took it upon themselves to remove all the Capcom fighters except for Marvel vs. Capcom and it's sequel. Other fighting games are represented, but I'm either indifferent to them, or just don't get the same charge out of making people lose their 50-75 cents on those games. There are two pinball machines way in the back, I think South Park and some game with a picture of a castle on it. My favorite pinball machines were Guns n' Roses and Star Wars, but that's neither here nor there. The problem with this arcade is that it has too many crappy gun and driving games. I mean, I realize that these are the games that people stand up and or move around while playing, but a lot of them are old, and a lot of them are bad... They also take up a lot of space. There's a miniscule selection of beat 'em ups, which I enjoy, but are best enjoyed with a buddy or pack of friends; a couple DDR machines, which aren't my style, but which I don't disdain (as I do the 8-14 driving cabinets that aren't being played, except maybe on 'special busy days' that I never witness), and a few oddities, like the firefighting game, and the horse racing game (hump the elctronic horse fast and steady and you too, could be a winner). The only game here that I feel like playing is Xevious, and I'm really pissed off at it for that.

It's not a great game for me, you've got your Solvalou (well, okay, you have 3 of them), but it moves a little sluggishly (hard to chase those discs around), and can only keep two air-to-air and one air-to-ground shot on the screen at a time (Galaxian and Galaga also followed this rule, for absolute shooting mayhem, try Karnov on the NES it's a pretty foolish game on the NES when you've got a turbo controller and a knack for dodging things). You shoot your way through the level, and I'm still not sure how the game determines what to throw at you next, but it seems like it'll throw harder stuff at you if you're knocking down a large percentage of what's current on the menu. Anyway, if you persevere past the discs, and the ground based bubble attackers, and the mirrors, and the dots that fly at your ship (not like fire from craft, there are just these little flashing dots that streak towards you in a hurry) and the black dots (that you must shoot, lest they release a Contra-esque spread shot at you), and the other types of flying craft (the robot head looking guys, and the ships), then you get to fight a boss. Drop a bomb on it, and move forward. Repeat until you get shot down several times.

It's a shooter. But it doesn't grip me like a lot of them do. Maybe it's because I'm just trying to finish off my Gamework's card. Two years ago, when the arcade was fun, and I hadn't yet left for college, I bought a $20 card to play at Gamework's with. Due to bad planning, I never finished the last $10 off of it. But, since coming back to Texas, I've polished off a good $3 playing Xevious, and I'll probably get rid of the other $7 doing the same.

Unless they can get themselves some more reputable games. The bastards.

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