It’s another entry into the grey sea of Game Boy that Stage-Select calls the Game Boy Logs.
This time we’ll be looking at the 1992 released Xenon 2 Megablast.
Xenon 2 is the second in the Xenon franchise from The Bitmap Brothers, an English studio that had a reputation for quality over quantity.
Xenon 2, a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up, is probably one of the most successful Bitmap Brothers games, having been released on several platforms including the Sega Master System, Amiga, Atari ST, Sharp x68000 and more.
As far as the Game Boy port of Xenon 2 goes, it’s not the best version of the game. Compared to the Amiga or Sharp versions, or any console or computer version, the Game Boy port is small, slow and stripped back. It’s the same story as most Game Boy ports, particularly shoot ’em ups, but don’t let that put you off, what we have with Xenon 2 is still one of the better examples of the genre
on-the-go with the Game Boy.
To start with the basics; Xenon 2 is a vertical scrolling shooter, meaning you, a space-ship, move along a constantly moving screen that travels upward. Your ship, called the Megablaster, is equipped with a blaster to dispatch all those nasty Xenite enemies that you’ll encounter as you make your way through the game.
The Xenites themselves are the antagonists of the first Xenon game, and not willing to lose with grace, these bad guys are back with a crazy plan–the Xenites have planted bombs at different points in history, and it falls on you to take them on and foil their plot.
Besides the plot, Xenon 2 has a couple of other things that differentiate it from other shoot ’em ups; the inclusion of rest points of a sort. Twice in each level you’ll be taken to the ‘Swap Shop’, a place run by a gruesome looking alien proprietor where you can spend the ‘C’ (cash) pick-ups dropped by defeated enemies on power-ups and advice from the shopkeeper, or sell power-ups you already have.
The second aspect of Xenon 2 that’s a bit different is that you can actually reverse the screen’s upward scroll. There are sections of the levels in Xenon 2 that are maze- like, and if you fly down the wrong side and find yourself at a dead end, the Megablaster ship you pilot is capable of forcing the screen to reverse by holding down on the D-pad at the bottom of the screen.
Other than that Xenon is a competent example of the genre. Everything that you would expect is here, including an auto-fire function, though this is a power-up rather than available by default.
There are a total of three difficulty settings which determine how many lives you have, and you are provided with a life bar rather than the one-hit-kill mechanic that many other shoot ’em ups use. The Bit-map Brothers were known for higher difficulty in most of their titles, Xenon 2 though is more sedate in its challenge until you reach stage four, this is where things get a little more tricky, and unless you’re playing the game on easy you probably will lose on your first, and maybe second try.
The graphics of Xenon 2 are a little squashed on that small screen of the Game Boy, but there’s still a distinct biological theme running through the stages and enemies that carries an ugly sort of quality. I mean that in a positive sense, that sort of ugly quality that is obvious as a characteristic of bad guys.
There is only one piece of music in Xenon 2, and it’s not especially outstanding. Not bad but not great either. There is the option to turn it off completely if you don’t like the music, but most people will find it good enough for what it is.
As far as price, Xenon 2 can be had for as little as £10 and as much as £60 on eBay (as of writing).
At £10 Xenon is a definite purchase in my opinion, and a bit more if you’re a big Game Boy or shoot ’em up fan, but I’d caution against higher prices. There’s such a wide range in pricing that a little patience will probably see you get a better price on Xenon 2.
I give Xenon 2 Megablast a 6.8 out of 10.