Xenon 2


The Bitmap Brothers ...

...are back with a follow up to their first major game, Xenon. And since Xenon, their egos have grown - the opening Sequence to the game is way over the top.

Shooting pods produces capsules and the 'Z' capsule zaps everything on the screen.

Golden blobs explode when you're

around but you can defeat them.

It seems thousands of years have passed Since the Xenonites were defeated an the last galactic wars. During that time, they've been plotting their revenge and the method that they've decided on involves five time bombs.

There are five vertically scrolling levels to battle through, each one set In a different time. The inhabitants of each time are of a hostile nature and do their utmost to bring year life to an abrupt end.

Super Nashwan power can be bought and gives

ten seconds of destructive power.

Aliens are of two basic tykes: landscape-based and flying. Landscape-based aliens are part of the landscape and move with it, whereas flying aliens move all over the Screen in their murderous endeavors.

Shooting aliens has advantages other than satisfying your blood lust - money. Dead aliens leave cash behind and you just have to fly over it to collect it.

AS usual you to have a means of protection, in the form of a forward firing laser, but to stand any real chance you'll need to build up your arsenal. From time to time pod-like objects appear on-screen and if you shoot them a capsule will be released. Collecting the capsule will add to your firepower or defenses, Extra weaponry includes smart bombs, cannons, side shots, back shots, huge lasers and double shots. Energy can also be collected in a similar way.

Half way along each level ant at the end there's a shop where you can buy or sell equipment using your hard-killed-for cash. There are 29 Add-ons for your ship, which range in price from 200 to over 5,000 units of currency. The cheapest is advice, which gives you a recommended add-on to help you through the next stage of the game.

before you get to the shop at the end of the level you must defeat the obligatory guardian. Masses of firepower is needed to blast your way through. On later levels there are guardians at the mid-point of the level too. When a guardian bites the dust it leaves behind it loads of cash - and you're gonna need it to buy those valuable armaments.

The level one guardian takes lots of hits to die…

and when he does he leaves behind loads of cash.


Bomb the Bass were drafted in to do the music for Xenon 2 and you can take that as bad or good depending on your musical taste (i.e. whether you have any taste or not). A sample is played initially and then the ST sound chip kicks in part way through the load - and you'll notice when it does. All this is part of the Bitmap hype loading routine. Eventually you'll get to the game and can turn off the music if you want too. Sound effects are very good and they'll probably drown out the music anyway.

The game is just beginning, and you have nothing but

a single laser. The capsule down below is a speed up

which gives you a better chance of survival.

The parallel scrolling is smooth and animation is excellent, Speed remains constant, even when there are lots of things on- screen, and after a few levels you'll have a barrage of firepower blasting away all the time and things will still be fine, One inconsistency, though, is the way the background stars move faster than the fore- ground landscape.


Shoot-‘em-ups have been done to death over the years, so it takes a lot to make a good one. Xenon 2 is extremely addictive and exciting, so that even though it might not have any new concepts it's still a great game. Brilliant end-of-level guardians, strap-on weaponry and hordes of aliens are all boosted by superior graphics to make it one of the best vertically-scrolling shoot-‘em-up’s around.

Its in the same elite class as Blood money so if you are a shoat-'em-up addict then look no further.

Gary Barrett

A stop in the shop is essential to stock up on those vital extras. Double shots are expensive, but level two is almost impossible without them.

Blasting a wave of aliens makes them drop their load... of cash which you'll need in the shop.

Mike Montgomery, Steve Kelly and Eric Matthews are the Bitmap Brothers, probably the only programming team most have heard of. What this goes to prove is that no matter how good a game you produce you still need to promote yourself to get recognised, and after seeing the opening sequence for Xenon 2 you’ll know that the Bitmaps go In for self-promotion.

Xenon 2 is the Bitmap's third major release: peviously there were Xenon and speedball. Xenon caused quite a stir when it was released in 1987 by Melbourne house. It was a fast and furious shoot-'em-up with excellent graphics and sound and the traditional assortment of bolt-on weaponry.

Their first project for Mirrorsoft was speedball, a violent futuristic Rollerball/ice hockey game released last year. Xenon 2 is more of a return to the original theme of vertically scrolling shoot-'em-ups but the programming wasn’t done by the Bitmaps. Instead, they came up with the game concept and oversaw the entire project from graphics to guardians while the programming was done be Assembly Line.

The code for Xenon 2 was written on an IBM machine and then ported across to the ST. Mark Coleman, the same guy who did the graphics in Speedball, came up with the astounding visuals, These were designed using both Degas Elite and additional animation routines written by Mike.

The Bitmaps have been signed up to write a further two projects or Mirrorsoft. Although no one is prepared to let out details about these, Eric Matthews guarantees that their next project, although boasting lots of new ideas will “still contain elements of what the Bitmaps are all about”, i.e. be arcade orientated. Steve and Mike have been working on this since the release of speedball so it looks like another mega-game. Mirrorsoft may well be letting out details of this new project at the PCW show but we won't see it on the shelves until early next year.


ST Format Shrine
Page last updated: 10 July 2011
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