Xevious 3D/G+ (PlayStation) review
"Soon your Solvalou is bothered by a sparse, but pretty snowfall, as you cruise like a bird of prey, firing either your spread, beam, or lock-on lasers (the red lock-on laser looks very cool, but regrettably isnít very powerful), above enemies afloat on massive glaciers. Take off into outer space, and face a boss whose core is embedded in the dark face of an asteroid. You get to enter a space station with narrow, twisting, changing passages. A quick foray outside, and itís back indoors, into the skeletal frame of the station, you playing Luke Skywalker to the stationís Death Star."
A link to the past
Here is the worst title for a game, ever. If it isn't, it's a strong nominee. It's bad enough that the name of the original game begins with an ''X'', but to add gibberish on the tail end that reminds you of the equation you couldn't recall in your last math test, just makes matters worse.
I'll do my best to explain said 'equation', without the aid of a chalkboard. If you don't want the history lesson, skip to paragraph eight.
Xevious (pronounced 'Zee-vee-us') came to the arcades in 1983, courtesy of Namco. It represented a very early attempt at vertical-scrolling shooting action. If you're at all familiar with the modern overhead shooter series that includes Rayforce, Raystorm, and RayCrisis, you'll be interested to know that Xevious employed the same weapon system, so many years ago.
You've got your straight ahead lasers, and you've got a curious targeting reticle hanging out in front of your ship as well. When the reticle passes over a 'ground target', you can loose volleys of bombs to rain down like a fiery hail. Well, that description is a bit dramatic; it's really much more like dropping a few M&Ms out of your hand, down onto a plate (sometimes tin, sometimes ceramic, depending on the lame enemy being bombed).
Here was Xevious' appeal. The space fighter craft, shooting and strafing, at the same time. Certainly the system was admired enough to be an inspiration in the creation of Taito's aforementioned shoot-em-up series, so kudos are in order for Namco.
Namco rode the success of their arcade hit into Grobda, a 'spin off' game featuring a scorpion-like enemy tank from Xevious as the hero. Maybe Grobda was to be a cash cow, because later that same year, Super Xevious arrived on the scene, dubbed as the true sequel to the perennial favourite. True sequel nomenclature notwithstanding, Super Xevious was little more than Xevious 'remixed'.
Next up, about six years later, came Solvalou. The game bearing the name of the craft that you pilot in Xevious, had the player engaged in the action from the cockpit viewpoint, and it used decent polygon construction (perhaps revolutionary at the time) as its graphic base.
Which brings us to Xevious 3D/G. After a handful of forgettable upgrades to a game badly in need of upgrading, Namco finally gave us the goods thirteen years later. Packed with nicely shaded polygons, with the notable addition of multiple weapons, and for the first time, real bosses (rather than the big, bad stop sign-shaped craft that appears every so often in the first game), Namco finally had a game worthy of being called the sequel to Xevious.
In the nicely packaged 3D/G+ PSX CD (how's that for a string of unintelligible characters!) Namco has offered Xevious 3D/G, plus (that's where the plus sign comes in, in the title) the original, a specially remixed, previously unreleased version called Xevious Arrangement, as well as Super Xevious. It seems like a lot of gaming is on your plate when you first peruse the in-game menu, but really, all you've got is a very primitive shooter in three variations, and an average nineties update.
It's that update that deserves closer inspection, so here we go.
The first thing you'll notice about 3D/G is obviously the graphic improvement. But the sounds may have improved to an even greater degree. Xevious featured horribly dinky sounds (remember, M&Ms dropped on a dinner plate) and the same offensive, relentless tune throughout. In 3D/G, the sound and music is generic, average at best, but that is still evidence of great strides being made.
Now, back to those graphics. Xevious had you flying the Solvalou over a long stretch of a single environ repeated over and over (flat green, a blue stream here and there, a flat brown desert featuring the bird from Nazca in a curious starring role). In 3D/G, there are defined grassy areas and mountain ranges. You visit a castle of sorts, where massive brown pillars topple to obstruct your progress. The Nazca plain with its massive bird outline is revisited, but the green areas are now lush, and have texture.
Soon your Solvalou is bothered by a sparse, but pretty snowfall, as you cruise like a bird of prey, firing either your spread, beam, or lock-on lasers (the red lock-on laser looks very cool, but regrettably isnít very powerful), above enemies afloat on massive glaciers. Take off into outer space, and face a boss whose core is embedded in the dark face of an asteroid. You get to enter a space station with narrow, twisting, changing passages. A quick foray outside, and itís back indoors, into the skeletal frame of the station, you playing Luke Skywalker to the stationís Death Star. The final boss is a bit of a let down, resembling an apple on a stick in front of psychedelic, flashing lights and a black background. But the ending sequence is spectacular in its presentation of a clumsy reference to the ever-present Nazca theme (there is actually very overdone documentation of the story of the Solvalou and its enemies, but Iíll spare you the overly dramatic, overly drawn out explanation of whatís really just another you-against-the-world premise).
Xevious 3D/G is a decent challenge, and even with the very friendly hit detection at work (read: youíll escape some confrontations alive, where you should be dead), youíll probably still spend your continues to progress in what is often a manic shooting experience. As a stand-alone game, itís about as average as a PSX shooter can get. Itís not up to par from a technical standpoint with games like Raystorm, but it does provide a good deal of fun, with minimal cheapness, and it employs admirable balance (if you die, youíre right back in the action, and even without being powered up, you still have a fighting chance), something that is hard to come by in a shooter. As a package featuring this game as its centerpiece, Xevious 3D/G+ is still all about its star player. But the nostalgia factor, as well as the sheer variety that was attempted, are factors that succeed in earning the compilation an extra mark beyond the decent score that 3D/G was able to earn on its own.
Xevious fans will be ecstatic (''all this Xevious... for me?''). Shooter aficionados will be moderately pleased (''all this shooting to do, I better get started!''). Sadly, mostly everyone else in this modern gaming world of big-boobed girls with guns, and reprehensible car-jacking sensationalism, will only be bored to tears.
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 14, 2004)
There was a bio here once. It's gone now.
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