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 The human colonies are under attack by a mysterious and violent alien species called "The Xenites" (probably originating from planet Xenon). Now it's time for you (a pilot named Darrian) to take action, defend your colony and engage the attackers in battle with your transforming weapon (a vehicle that can be used either as an aircraft or as a kind of a battle tank)! 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 for destroying particular enemy structures or even battleships (plus the intelligent bosses in every level.)
GRAPHICS / SOUND The MSX graphics are fine, featuring the original detailed landscapes but limited to 8 colors on screen (identical to the ZX version) although the MSX display hardware is more advanced and capable of handling 16 colors at once, along with hardware sprites! Actually the colors picked here are mainly based in blue and black, but either way they look nice! The action is fast though there are a few framerate issues when many "nasties" occupy the screen. Also the color-clash problem (found on the ZX display hardware as well), makes the game quite difficult to avoid enemy projectiles. The sound and music are similarly effective. There is a spot effect for every single shot and explosion and the music fits well to the game's atmosphere; plus it's a really joy to listen to. Unfortunately, one sound channel is reserved for the SFX, leaving only two channels for the music. Note that the MSX's AY-3-8910 sound generator (identical to the CPC and ZX computers) can support 3-channels in total.
CPU: ZiLOG Z80A at 3,58MHz MEMORY: 32, 64 KB and 128 KB exist, 32KB ROM (16Kb for bios, 16Kb for Basic) GRAPHICS: Texas Instruments TMS9918, Video RAM: 16 KB supporting a 16 color palette and up to 256x192 resolution (support 32 sprites). SOUND: General Instrument AY-3-8910 (PSG), 3 channels, 8 octaves