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Have You Played... Xenon 2: Megablast

ULTROBANG

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

You know when your first experience of a genre is the one that defines it for you? As an 11 year old, Xenon 2 was shoot-em-ups, and I adored it. It was only years later that I learned how unliked it was.

Not on release, you understand. The Bitmap Bros. shmup received rave reviews, huge scores in the 90s, and was enormously celebrated… until you looked a bit closer. Times were tough in 1989 if you wanted your games to look pretty, and Xenon 2 looked very pretty. And sounded amazing, with music from the likes of Bomb The Bass. People got a little over-excited, perhaps. Once you got to the awkward words of the review they’d mention things like, “It’s a bit hard to see what’s going on,” and “The collision detection could be better”.

Months later, the wind came out of that. The very polite Amiga Format gave it an enormous 93% on release, but three short years later the CDTV port got a measly 32%. It didn’t age well, it seems.

But for me, at 11, it was fabulous. Those bubbles! The way that, er, I dunno, you shot stuff! The way it was the only schmup I’d ever played! And so it can never lose its shine for me, so long as I’ve the sense to never play it again.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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