One of the world’s first vertical scrolling shooter games, controversially referred to by many players as being “a beautiful looking game with some of the least enjoyable game-play”, is Xevious. Released by Namco in 1982, this easily recognizable arcade game quickly interested arcade patrons with it’s unique looking cabinet and colourful side art.
With an 8-way joystick and four buttons, the Player controls a combat aircraft called the “Solvalou”, armed with forward-firing “Zapper” for shooting down aerial targets and a “Blaster” which launches bombs onto aggressive ground targets.
As the Player flies over the varied and unique terrain – forests, waterways, airstrips and numerous enemy bases – they are met with furious attack from different enemies, both in the air and on the ground, which they can either dodge to avoid, or use their formidable (and unlimited!) weaponry to defeat.
During flight, the Player is attacked by aircraft that fire a combination of slow-moving and fast-moving projectiles, and exploding black spheres. Ground forces attack the Player from below, with a number of pyramid-like and spheroid structures and units.
Game-play is fairly repetitive, with a minimal increase in difficulty throughout the progression of each level. When the Player completes Level 16, the game loops back and starts again at Level 7. If the Player has completed over 70% of the level they are on, they respawn at the start of the next level.
Xevious is famous for a number of “firsts”. It is considered to have one of the first “Level Bosses”, and is one of the first games to feature hidden bonuses not mentioned in the instructions. Branded as “the arcade game you can’t play at home”, Xevious was the first arcade game to ever have a television commercial aired for it in North America, and is believed to be the first TV commercial ever aired for an arcade video game.
Xevious was undoubtedly one game that helped spawn the “scrolling shooter” and “shmup” (from “shoot ’em up”, a game in which the protagonist combats a large number of enemies by shooting at them while dodging their fire) generation. Games such as 1942, and DoDonPachi, and even horizontally scrolling shooters like Darius and R-Type owe a debt to Xevious.
So, it’s that time again… Pop in a quarter, and help pilot your Solvalou to victory in Xevious!