3D Classics: Xevious

5 Overall Score

Classic Xevious gameplay | Great use of 3D | Overall, fun

No gameplay updates | Limited replayability | Shows age

A few quick questions before we begin: have you enjoyed Xevious previously, do you like classic scrolling shooters or are you looking for a slightly new and interesting take on 3D?  If you can answer yes to one or more of those questions, you should consider buying Xevious from the 3DS eShop.  If not, it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to recommend you buy it.

Xevious was originally released in 1981, with some then-fascinating features.  There was a real end boss, the variety of enemies came fast and furious and you had to keep track of action on two levels.  These made it a favourite in Japan, but it never really got the same amount of popularity in North America.  We tend to consider Space Invaders as the more classic, but that doesn’t change the fact that I paid $6 for this today, so does it measure up?

Before we get into the graphics, let’s talk about the actual gameplay.  The real hook is the fact that action takes places on two different levels, you need to worry about bombing enemies on the ground who are shooting ‘up’ at you while scrolling by, while waves of airborne enemies attack you from the skies.  This was the main reason for Xevious becoming a classic, and as a testament to the design, it still works today.  Having to split your attention might not sound like that big of a deal, but it was actually much more difficult than I gave it credit for.  I’m not a huge player of scrolling shooters, but I do quite enjoy them from time to time.  I loaded up Xevious confident in my superiority over a 30 year old game that looked as if it moved quite slowly.  Truth be told it does move slower than most shooters you’re used to, but deaths from overconfidence came quick and often.

New waves and types of enemies come out with pleasing quickness, and you’ll have to learn their behaviour to survive.  Early in the game I met a new type of flier that I killed most of and let a few pass by me, sure I had dealt with their menace and focussed on the ground forces I was about to bomb, just in time for the passing ships to dart back at me from the bottom of the screen and throw off another shot while I was lining up a bombing run, catching me completely off guard.  I like when a game surprises me, and that  kind of enemy behaviour gives you a bit of an insight as to why this game was so popular.

So, what about the 3D/graphics?  I’ve just told you that the 30 year old game is still fun, and it is.  They haven’t added any multiplayer, unlockables or anything else to update it, but they’ve done a magnificent job on the graphics.   Xevious was the first game they attempted the 3D port on, and they had a number of issues with it, which is really why we’re only getting 6 classics instead of the larger number they had originally planned on.  They time the spent on it shows, as the 3D adds much more to it than you would expect.

The top screen on the 3DS is a widescreen, so you’re getting a different aspect ratio which is now layered clouds, extra dodging area.  These clouds provide a nice bit of 3Dness to the levels, as your ship floats above the ground forces.  Because you’re splitting your attention on two different planes of attack and they actually are two different planes of attack now, it’s more fun to play in 3D.  You’re more drawn into the action, though I do think the 3D makes it a little more difficult.  Instead of being able to just see all the bullets coming at you as a single layer that you have to dodge, they will actually ‘grow’ up at you.  It’s a little thing, but it adds a lot.  This is a game I would play at 85% slider, set at the default in game.  You can actually adjust the amount of 3D in the game settings as well as the slider, but of course the first thing you’ll do is set both to max, and then your eyes will fall out of your head.   So don’t do that.

It’s hard to come to a proper conclusion to this review, as if you want to play Xevious, this is the best way to do it.  If you want to play a classic scrolling shooter with interesting visuals, this is a good way to do it.  If you want to play a retro ‘re-imagining’, this really isn’t it.  It doesn’t have the Pacman Championship Edition flair that we’ve seen from some titles, and in my opinion it suffers from that.  At $6 I’m not expecting the world, but I’d like some updates to set next to my classic game play, like R-Type on XBLA.


Want to know what our review scores mean? Read about it here.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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