We've seen a metric tonne of shoot 'em ups made available on Virtual Console already. With well-known classic games like the Gradius and Star Soldier series as well as lesser-known greats like Cho Aniki and MUSHA among them, there's more than enough good stuff available to satiate the desires of any fan of the genre. Because of this, developers should really think twice about releasing any more – unless it's a well-known title that is still somehow missing, chances are people aren't going to pay much attention to it.
Exed Exes is one of Capcom's very early arcade games. A vertical shooter, it has you blasting vast amounts of Galaga-like space bugs as you progress through the multitude of stages. It's pretty hard, but that should come as no surprise going by the difficulty of other Capcom releases from around the same time. Your craft moves awfully slow, and while enemies aren't that numerous at the beginning, by the time you reach stage two you'll probably find yourself avoiding more bullets than you are killing bad guys. It's also one of those classic button masher games, which means you can't hold down fire to shoot continuously – oh no, you need to tap for each shot.
There's also naturally a boss at the end of each stage, which is generally just some strangely-shaped craft with a bunch of turrets on it. Blowing them all off will net you a victory, but it's best to hurry as if you take too long, enemies will start coming up from behind you.
There are 16 levels total, but they don't really differ much. You'll see the exact same backdrop pretty much constantly, only getting a different one (a completely black screen) during bonus rounds in which you rack up points by shooting skulls. Like any classic arcade game, beating all 16 areas will reward you with being sent back to square one and going through it all again until you lose all of your lives.
Like pretty much every Virtual Console Arcade game, Exed Exes has some configurable options to make the game a bit easier (or harder), which pretty much any new player will want to do – it's not exactly fun to die every 30 seconds and have to plug in more credits. Thankfully, you will continue right where you perished instead of at the beginning of the stage, which eases the pain a bit, but it's still quite annoying.
As said, there's not much to the backgrounds and enemies, but the game's sound will also quickly get on your nerves. It's comprised of a very short theme that loops endlessly, and when you get to the bonus stages, the game will reward you with an even shorter, more grating one.
There are usually one or two things totally unique to a shoot 'em up that instantly allow you to recognise it among a bunch of others, but Exed Exes, to be quite honest, doesn't really offer anything special – it's about as generic a shmup as they come. Yes, it's old, but games like the aforementioned Galaga also featured unique gimmicks and were already out for several years by the time Capcom created Exed Exes.
Exed Exes is a completely by the books 80's shoot 'em up featuring no real charm of its own. Your ship trudges along doing more evading than shooting, and unless you're a complete master of the genre you'll see the continue screen every minute or two. With so many other, better games of its type available on Virtual Console, there's just no real reason to go for this one. It's nice that Capcom is putting their early catalogue out there again, but this one is best skipped.