The history of Xenon Megablast - an arcade classic
Immediately following the golden age of arcade games a number of key playing companies in the field of game development were intensely battling it out for the biggest share of the now booming marketplace by attempting to release games that pushed the boundaries of their genres. In the late 1980’s home consoles and arcade machines had moved on from single static screens and totally flat 2-D graphics; players could now enjoy richer image resolutions, faster speeds and a range of complex game-play control options. The big name game companies like Atari, Taito and Capcom had already carved out the beginnings of a number of solid top level genres, which all other developers could conveniently release their creations under. The stage was finally set for a flood of talented programmers to test the boundaries that had been setup and come out with some truly ground breaking ideas.
If you were lucky enough to have been a kid at that particular time you would have thoroughly enjoyed some of the big hit classics such as Capcom’s Street Fighter, Midway’s Mortal Kombat, Sega’s Out Run or Atari’s Tetris puzzle game. There was something to suit almost every taste, but in the genre of space ship soot-em-ups there was one game that really stood out for its unique game-play and ahead of its time graphic quality, Xenon Mega Blast (1989). Unlike other popular games of the time this gem of a title was produced by a small unknown group of developers called ‘The Assembly Line’ and created specifically for the Atari ST and Amiga Consoles, but possibly came to fame with its later release on the Sega 16-bit.
A closer look at Xenon 2 Mega Blast
Xenon Mega Blast is actually a follow on from the first game which was designed in 1988 for a kids TV show called ‘Get Fresh’; children could phone in on a Saturday morning and play the game by calling out commands. The first installment of the game was also available on Atari consoles, but wasn’t much of a success compared with other shoot-em-ups of the time. When Xenon 2 Mega Blast came out the following year its developers were nervous about how it would stand up to some of the favorites in the genre like 1942, R-Type, Space Harrier or Twinbee which already had a loyal following of their own. But in spite of their fears gamers were wowed by its top class graphic quality, funky sound track and unique never before seen game-play.
Xenon Mega Blast had the look and feel of a vertical scrolling shoot-em-up in which player’s pilot their way through several fact paced levels while dodging on coming fire from enemies, though unlike other similar styled games, Xenon had no storyline to speak of. Aside from the graphics, what made this game special was a player’s ability to scroll the screen backwards to avoid being destroyed; something that no other game included. A character could also collect various power-ups and credit which could later be used to buy extra weapons and other items from the mid-game store. Finally another aspect of Xenon Mega Blast that sets it apart from the rest was its use of popular music of the time; they decided that their main backing soundtrack would be ‘Megablast,’ taken from the ‘Bomb the Bass’ 1988 album.
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