Xenon is a vertical shoot 'em up game developed in 1988 for the arcades by The Bitmap Brothers (based on an Amiga 500 amplified hardware) as well as the Atari ST, Amiga (OCS/ECS), DOS, ZX, CPC and MSX home computers.
STORY / GAMEPLAY
Human colonies are under attack by a mysterious and violent alien species called "The Xenites" (probably originating from planet Xenon). You're an elite pilot named Darrian and it's time to take action, defend your colony and engage the attackers in a battle with your secret weapon (an armored tank that can transform into a mighty aircraft! This transformation is quite unique for its time but it seems that it's effecting the gameplay quite a bit, as the game is an arcade shooter and when transforming (from air to ground) it slows down the action; a fact that can sometimes become frustrating. The transformation between these two different vehicles can be triggered almost at any time of the game (except during the mid and the end of any level boss sections). Along the way there are several power ups available to collect, necessary to destroy particular enemy structures or even battleships (plus the intelligent bosses at the end of each level.)
GRAPHICS / SOUND The Amiga version is identical to the Atari ST. The graphics are superb for its time and the installations are wonderfully drawn. Although the backgrounds look quite similar throughout the game, occasionally changing in colors and textures being mostly tiles, the installations give this metal-like sense with nice shadows whilst the sprites are nicely detailed. Everything moves fast and smooth (especially when airborne). At the beginning of each sector there is a digitized face that announces the sector's number (i.e. "Sector One"). The face is no other than Bitmap Brothers' Eric Matthews! The game's sounds are also of high standards, consisting of some atmospheric tunes composed by David Whittaker along with great explosion and shooting sound effects plus the awesome Eric's voice! The zappy and kaboom sounds enhance the game a lot and give a wonderful feel. I must admit though that the in-game music sounds better on the Atari ST version(!)
THE ARCADE VERSION
The arcade version of Xenon is actually based on the Arcadia Systems' Horizontal Conversion Kit, a specially modified Amiga 500 arcade board (!)
GAMEPLAY SAMPLE VIDEO
On our video below you may watch the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and Arcade (Arcadia Systems' Amiga based) versions of the game.
The Arcadia Systems' version is at 12:42.
CPU: Motorola MC68000 7.16 MHz MEMORY: 512KB of Chip RAM (OCS chipset - A500), 512 KB of Slow RAM or Trapdoor RAM can be added via the trapdoor expansion, up to 8 MB of Fast RAM or a Hard drive can be added via the side expansion slot. The ECS chipset (A500+) offered 1MB on board to 2MB (extended) of Chip RAM. GRAPHICS: The OCS chipset (Amiga 500) features planar graphics (codename Denise custom chip), with up to 5 bit-planes (4 in hires), allowing 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 color screens, from a 12bit RGB palette of 4096 colors. Resolutions varied from 320x256 (PAL, non-interlaced, up to 4096 colors) to 640x512 (interlace, up to 4 colors). Two special graphics modes where also included: Extra Half Bright with 64 colors and HAM with all 4096 colors on-screen. The ECS chipset models (Amiga 500+) offered same features but also extra high resolution screens up to 1280x512 pixels (4 colors at once). SOUND: (Paula) 4 hardware-mixed channels of 8-bit sound at up to 28 kHz. The hardware channels had independent volumes (65 levels) and sampling rates, and mixed down to two fully left and fully right stereo outputs