Review: Xevious (Game Boy Advance)

Xevious (GBA)
Genre: Shooter
Platform: Gameboy Advance
Rating: E for Everyone
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo/Namco

Some people may hate them, and abhor their pricing polices, but when it comes to Nintendo I’ve been loyal since day one. So when I got wind, along with the rest of the gaming community, of the classic NES series that was coming out for the GBA (along with the very cool retro NES GBA SP) I was; naturally, very excited. Despite the various complaints I have heard from different areas of the net in terms of pricing of these games, among other things, I think this is a great idea. With an initial lineup of Super Mario Bros., Bomberman, Ice Climbers, Pac-Man, Donky Kong, Excite Bike, The Legend of Zelda, and Xevious, Nintendo has effectively captured the spirit of nostalgia on the system built for that very purpose: the GBA. I myself succumbed to the allure and finally upgraded from my original GBA to get the very sleek NES SP. As I was buying it, I couldn’t help myself and went home with one of those eight titles that have been released in conjunction with this new SP model. So the subject of today’s review will be very much in a retro vein as we discuss Xevious. Why Xevious instead of the other, better known, titles? It’s simple: I have all the other ones in one shape or another. And while I do plan on picking up more of these titles for portability, playing a game I missed out on back in the 8-bit days was the hook for me. So let’s get right into this.

1. Story:

Well, I didn’t come into this game expecting a story. And, sure enough, I didn’t get one. Still, I’ll be nice and give you the official plot. This is quoted directly from the Nintendo instruction guide that came with the game. Ahem:

“Infiltrate enemy territory in your Solvalou strike fighter, gun down hostile aircraft, and drop your deadly payload to destroy the XEVIOUS war machine!”

Well that just clears everything up, doesn’t it? Anyways, when this game was released, stories were definitely not the priority as much as the actual gameplay was. Xevious is a shooter that strives to give you mindless fun with the sole goal of bettering your top score. No story necessary. It’s a bit refreshing for me actually. Don’t get me wrong, I love a deep story as much as the next person. My favorite genre of games is the RPG. Still it’s nice to just play a game that only asks you to destroy as many enemy ships as possible in route to a high score that gives you nothing but bragging rights over your friends or whomever you play Xevious with (if you play it with anyone at all.) Since Xevious took place in a different era I think its only fair if I discount the story portion for this review and base my review on the other nine categories we employ here at Inside Pulse Games.

Story rating: Not Applicable

2. Graphics

Initially I was upset that Nintendo had not updated the graphics for these classic games. However, once I thought it over for a bit; I realized Nintendo made the right call in the end. The graphics are exactly as they were back on the NES days, as Xevious is a true port of the NES edition. They work though, because they bring back memories of a gaming era that has almost been forgotten by the new generation of gamers. Playing Xevious exactly as it is on my NES SP really is my new favorite thing to do at the moment, and I wouldn’t change the graphics for anything. Their simplistic but that’s the whole point. They add to the fun factor of a game like Xevious giving you, the retro-gamer, a look into the past. Basically, what I’m saying is if you bought this game or any other classic NES game then you are not concerned about the graphics anyways. What you want is classic gameplay that still holds up. Xevious delivers for you if that’s what you’re after. However, if you’re a person who needs his graphics to be amazing every single time, then I feel a bit sorry for you, because this game really isn’t for you. Sadly you are missing out on pieces of history that trump a lot of what we see today on the market.

Graphics Rating: 5/10

3. Sound

The sound is also the exact same that was on the original NES Xevious. While not necessarily a bad thing, I do think the sound of Xevious is lacking. There are NES games out there that had great soundtracks to them, but Xevious clearly isn’t one of them. The game has one theme with the standard sound effects thrown in. Mostly I just turn the volume off for this one. Playing with some of my own music, or just in silence really never bothered me. The hitch with the music isn’t that its boring, or bland. It’s just annoying. Unless you have played the game it’s tough to describe, but if you have then you know what I am talking about. Luckily this is the only glaring weakness that Xevious has, and one that I can forgive very easily. Don’t let the sound scare you off, because Xevious definitely has more to offer in the actual game play department that easily trumps the lackluster sound effort we get here.

Sound Rating: 3/10

4. Controls

The controls are great for Xevious. Maneuvering your ship is easy and it responds quickly to your commands with the D-pad. The attacking system is simplistic as well. The A button allows you to drop bombs to take out ground forces, and the B button fires your main guns to take out incoming air enemies. If you feel like taking the challenge of the game down a notch you can hold the B button in for rapid fire. That’s all there is too it. It comes together very well though, and for a shooter it’s really all you need. The controls also capture that classic vibe that Nintendo; obviously, intended for this series release. Xevious isn’t meant to befuddle you, and it isn’t meant to frustrate you control scheme wise. I think newer gamers will be a bit turned off by Xevious’s simplistic controls, but for us old-school gamers this will be a blissful throwback to a time when our controllers didn’t have 206 buttons on them. It’s charming and it works.

Controls Rating: 8/10

5. Balance

Xevious presents an endless challenge to it. Since there is no actual ending to this game, the objective then becomes to see how far you can go. Beware, because Xevious is tough, and your ship can only take one hit. It’s a test of your reflexes that few games out there can give you. At times Xevious can get downright brutal in terms of enemies on the screen. And when you get to the “boss” ships at certain times they will hurl ungodly amounts of firepower your way, and I loved each and every damn minute of it. You will get so into Xevious that is becomes an extension of you when you’re playing. You will get frustrated with Xevious, and you will die, but that just makes you want to play it even more. It’s not a game where you’ll rack up an easy hundred thousand without breaking a sweat. That’s the best part though. The more you play, the more you strive to get better at it. Every time you beat your high score, you want to play it some more and shatter that score all over again. If you’re wondering, the ability to save your high score is something new Nintendo added to this version of Xevious, and it is a change I don’t mind due to the challenge aspect it adds to things. In short, Xevious provides a better challenge then most of what you’ll see on the GBA today. Would you expect anything less from a classic NES shooter?

Balance Rating: 6/10

6. Replayability

It’s really endless. Since Xevious is open-ended, by default it becomes a game that is designed to keep you coming back for more time and time again. Like I stated before, Xevious is a game that’s sole mission is to top your best score and to get as good as you possibly can at it. And with the challenge of Xevious thrown into the mix, the formula that results is one that lends itself to replayability. I would highly recommend Xevious for anyone who is looking for a game that is great for trips, vacations, or whatever. It doesn’t require you to commit yourself to a storyline you need to pay attention too. It doesn’t ask you to find special items, etc. All Xevious wants you to do is destroy as much as humanly possible before getting wasted yourself. It doesn’t lose its fun either after repeated plays. You’ll get hooked, and for twenty bucks I would say it definitely gives you more then enough for that price tag.

Replayability Rating: 7/10

7. Originality

It’s a classic NES game. It’s a classic in its genre. It paved the way for many shooters that have come and gone in the days since. In terms of originality Xevious is one of the god damn pioneers of shooters, and it doesn’t get much more original then that. Of course now a days you’ll have people scream and rave at you that you can get better games out there then Xevious, be damned it’s historical value. I laugh at those people, because they have missed the concept of this classic NES series. Xevious shows you how far we have come, and more importantly how good a classic shooter can really be. It makes you appreciate the shooter genre, which has come from humble beginnings to heights that only grow with each passing year. If you’re looking for the game that inspired many of the shooters you have played than look no further. Xevious is original, fun, and well worth your precious time.

Originality Rating: 7/10

8. Appeal

It’s obvious I really have enjoyed Xevious. It’s a highly appealing game that fits right in on the GBA, and makes a fine addition to anyone’s library. Retrogames are in, and Xevious is a perfect release for this initial lineup of classic NES titles. I also like how it is probably the least known title out of the eight classics released. It’s always nice to see lesser known games get some respect, and the mere fact that it was a game I didn’t know that much about only enhanced its appeal factor in my eyes. I think that is the case for other gamers as well. Games like Super Mario Bros. and the Legend of Zelda are virtually known to everyone, and therefore are nothing new to the masses. But Xevious is more of a cult classic, and I encourage everyone to give it a shot, and see how it goes. What makes it even better is the multi-player mode. You can challenge a friend, and go back and forth to see just who can garner the best score. It’s an added plus that you only need one copy of the cart to partake in the multi-player goodness. Appeal? This game is oozing with it.

Appeal Rating: 7/10

9. Addictiveness

I haven’t been able to put this game down since I got it. I’m not sure if I just have wacky tastes, or am just way to into the retro thing these days. Regardless, it’s like my new crack. After completing Shining Force, it’s a welcome change that definitely is a mindless, addictive, bag of fun that doesn’t get old. If you have friends, a couple GBA’s and a cable it’s even better. So far me and a few buddies have had one competitive gaming spell where we continuously tried to top each other’s scores and lost complete track of time doing so. It’s equally addicting as a one player experience. Seeing how far you can get, and how high you can score becomes a personal challenge to your reflexes and ability as a gamer. Still, I think I should caution gamers who didn’t grow up with games in the same vein as Xevious. For me, the experience is more about reliving my childhood. For you the appeal will not be the same. I’m not saying you won’t enjoy this game. What I am saying is that it will not give you the same vibe it will give those people who grew up with the NES and it’s predecessors in the gaming world.

Addictiveness Rating: 6/10

10. Miscellaneous

Overall, Xevious delivers as a classic shooter that makes the transition to the GBA in fine fashion. Everything about the game gives off that classic feel, right down to the cheap deaths you will experience, and the insane bosses and enemy fire you will have to deal with. It is a good game for friends, trips, and just casual gaming. In short, I would highly recommend it as the title to pick up from the classic gaming series if you are debating picking up any of them. I don’t think you?ll be disappointed, because despite the era that it comes from Xevious holds up remarkably well to the test of time. And for a game that is over 20 years old that is not to damn shabby. And while twenty bucks may seem a lot for a NES game, it’s still cheaper then most other new titles out on the GBA. What else can I say? Xevious is just pure gaming goodness.

Miscellaneous Rating: 6/10

Story Rating: N/A
Graphics Rating: 5/10
Sound Rating: 3/10
Controls Rating: 8/10
Balance Rating: 6/10
Replayability Rating: 7/10
Originality Rating: 7/10
Appeal Rating: 7/10
Addictiveness Rating: 6/10
Miscellaneous Rating: 6/10

Overall Score: 6.0