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Xexyz (NES) artwork

Xexyz (NES) review

"Humanity nearly wiped itself clean off the map, and the Mother Nature attempted to aid the process with a few hundred natural disasters. Peaceful fairies then came along and built a nation on the bones and smoldering ruins of humanity and called it Xexyz. To keep peace and order, they established five cute anime girls as princesses, and everyone lived happily ever after. "

Humanity nearly wiped itself clean off the map, and the Mother Nature attempted to aid the process with a few hundred natural disasters. Peaceful fairies then came along and built a nation on the bones and smoldering ruins of humanity and called it Xexyz. To keep peace and order, they established five cute anime girls as princesses, and everyone lived happily ever after.

...until the Goruza Fortress arrived from the deepest blackness of space and announced they weren't too impressed with fairies, but really loved anime girls. Not a surprise, being as they are aliens and most likely covered in tentacles. They snatched up the beautiful rulers and imprisoned them in five titanic fortresses, setting horrific creatures that look like Gamera and Ultraman rejects to guard them.

Only one person could possibly stop them. The fairies called out his name, only to remember that all the Belmonts died in the apocalyptic war. No, there was one other warrior left, one who survived the war. They called for him instead, only to recall that Ryu Hayabusa drowned, having been nailed by a rogue bird and plummeted into the nasty flood waters after the war. They sighed and called their last resort: an armored space warrior decked out in pink and white with a techno groove in his step who fires “greater than” signs. His name is Apollo, and he may not be as awesome as the others, but he'll do.

Apollo has never played Monster Party, otherwise he'd recognize stage 1 with its interspersed doors and statues. He boogies his way into the first door, listens to the fairies yammer on about saving a princess, then goes to work. He enters more doors and has more awkward encounters with the citizens: an excited robot peddles high tech garbage, a humanoid frog sitting on a throne wants to restore his life for a chunk of change, a random anime girl gives him 20 credits for the hell of it, and a mysterious voice commands him to hit a ghost with his head in the hopes of nailing a treasure chest on the ceiling and getting some cash. Apollo checks his personal effects and makes sure he took his pills before arriving to this planet.

Incongruous flying robots come at him, bullets rain and rise and he bursts into full attack mode, firing glorious inequality symbols every which way and gracefully dodging the projectile. The 'bots become scrap metal and leave behind money. Cheap women are in order, but remembering his mission, he upgrades his weapon instead.

Another group of fairies tells him to shoot statues to reveal a door leading to a talking stone demon. The beast wishes to test his fighting capabilities and begins shooting crimson flames. Apollo trounces the sucker, gets a force star for his troubles, and dances his way to the fortress. There he jumps up air shafts and scrambles along hallways, giving shady robots money for not-so-helpful info and trying not to fall into illogically placed pits. He eventually finds a flying machine with a coin slot. Turns out in order to use it he has to feed it some credits.

The machine automatically blasts him down a dangerous corridor with flying robots and obstructions galore. He blasts them all out of the air and comes to a couple doors. The high road or the low road? He takes the low and repeats the area he was just in. He figures that if he wants to advance, he has to take the proper pathways.

Beaten and bruised, he arrives at the final part of the fortress. After more tedious exploring and jumping into air shafts, he finds the giant disembodied head of Zeus who tells him to leap onto a flying saucer and fight an alien to rescue a princess. Apollo doesn't have time or brain cells to waste on questions. He dutifully jumps on the saucer and is transported to absolute blackness. There he hears the horrifying call of the alien, sounding something like a drowning elephant crossed with a horny cat. An enormous brain approaches him and Apollo fires erratically and flies all about to dodge the beast's flying spittle. He cries out for his mother, but only seconds before he hears an explosion and sees bits of brain matter all over his visor. He leaps into the air in excitement and pushes a button to drain the fright-induced urine from his suit. He has rescued the princess.

Sorry Apollo, but our main ruler is in another fortress.

Apollo mutters a four-letter word, crawls back onto another flying machine, and zooms out of the fortress to the next island. The space between islands is inhabited with more pissed off aliens. He guns them down like usual and expects this to be a straightforward romp. He accidentally hits a gear shift and the flying machine jumps to ludicrous speed while oddly floating bits of matter obstruct his pathway. He flies up and down in a panicked stupor, barely avoiding most of the obstructions. Battered and bloodied, he reaches a giant jellyfish. Battle ensues and ends with justice once again pimp-slapping evil's rotten carcass back into the abyss. Justice once again empties its suit of the scare-urine.

If the rest of Apollo's quirky adventure is as wild as the first few stages, then the game must be an eccentric masterpiece. Sadly, Apollo's journey, despite being off the wall and campy, flows exactly the same from start to finish. The minor details are all that change. Well, that and after the jellyfish boss he rescues several giant naked women imprisoned in bathtubs by evil cyclopean robot heads with razors for teeth.

Xexyz starts off strong, with tight controls, plenty of action and challenge, and new surprises everywhere you look. An oddball like myself can't help but love it. At least until you blast the third boss out of the sky and witness just how frustrating the game can be. One level places you in the clouds where you have to gun down dozens of enemies that appear at a time, dodge all of their bullets, and remember to kill flying orbs that appear on the screen that summon life-sucking lightning. After all that nonsense you have to dodge seemingly impossible obstacles with only the most minute of spaces to slip between, deal with more enemies that come in bundles, and then fight a boss that looks like Mecha-Rodan. If you make it that far, you'll likely have only one or two hits left in you, and if you haven't memorized Mecha-Rodan's pattern, you're screwed. You don't so much succeed at the level as survive it. This is true about quite a few levels after that.

Many of the major boss battles in the fortresses rely on you getting your hands on special weapons. If you don't already have one, then you can purchase one from a shop within the fortress. Don't have enough money? Well, start grinding. It's uncommon that an enemy will drop any money, definitely rare that they will drop more than one credit at a time, and the most you'll ever get is five credits. This isn't so irritating early in the game when weapons cost 45 credits tops, but at the end when you have to grind for a weapon that costs well over 100 credits just to be able to hit a boss that fires projectile all over the screen and moves in an erratic pattern... Yeah, that's just ridiculous. Take into account that any time you die, you lose the weapon. Thank goodness for save states.

It's not a perfect side scroller, but it's hard to deny that it's exciting and unique. If you enjoy quirky games and can get around the sometimes ridiculous challenge and somewhat repetitive nature, then Xexyz should be on your list of retro games to play. Maybe not high on your list, but definitely above most.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Featured community review by JoeTheDestroyer (January 24, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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