Xenon is a vertical shoot 'em up game developed for the arcades by The Bitmap Brothers in 1988. The game was converted to the Commodore Amiga (OCS/ECS), Atari ST, PC (DOS), ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 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 CPC graphics are fine and it is obvious that a great deal of care and attention has been taken over them. The CPC version offers detailed landscapes and nice colors (in contrast to the ZX and MSX computers that are limited to their lower color palettes). The action is quite slow though and there are framerate problems (as with all 8bit versions) when lots of sprites swarm the screen and thus the screen scrolling occasionally suffers. The overall level design actually reminds me of the more advanced 16bit versions of the game. The sound is awesome, featuring a great in-game tune followed by several high quality sound effects. Note that one channel is reserved for the sound effects so only two channels are left for the music (the Amstrad CPC sound generator supports up to 3 simultaneous channels).
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CPU: ZiLOG Z80 4MHZ MEMORY: 64 KB or 128 KB of RAM depending on the model (capable of being expanded to 512k using memory extension boards) GRAPHICS: Motorola 6845 address generator, Mode 0: 160x200 / 16 colors, Mode 1: 320x200 / 4 colors, Mode 2: 640x200 / 2 colors, A colour palette of 27 colors was supported SOUND: The CPC used the General Instrument AY-3-8912 sound chip, providing 3 channels Mono Sound (via internal speaker) but capable to offer Stereo Sound provided through a 3.5 mm headphones jack (with pretty impressive outcome!). Also, it is possible to play back digital sound samples at a resolution of approximately 5bit. This technique is very processor-intensive though.