When Xevious hit arcades in 1982 it represented one of the first vertical shoot 'em ups of its kind. Not only that, but the game introduced a second bombing mechanic to give it a little more flare. After seeing a handful of home releases, it sprang upon the NES system with a vengeance and once again showed that the 8-bit NES could bring home a faithful arcade port and shine while doing it. Now Namco is unleashing their classic shooter upon the Wii U Virtual Console, and the game still looks as faithful and arcade perfect as it did 30+ years ago.
The gameplay in Xevious is uncommonly simple: fly your spacecraft around various terrain, taking out enemy ships and bombing enemy installations that tend to fire cannons at you. That might sound easy enough, but it can get quite tricky as you progress through the various areas. It doesn't hurt that enemy fire gets progressively more intense, not to mention there's the occasional boss fight to test your mettle.
The controls are simple. You can move your space ship in eight directions, and there's a crosshair out in front of you for targeting not only your cannon fire but also your bombs. It's as smooth and responsive as you'd expect in a shooter, and creating a balance between cannon fire and bombing plays an integral role to your survival. You'll have to take out enemy installations in later levels in order to avoid the massive barrage of cannon fire from them.
Visually Xevious on NES is nearly arcade perfect. You'll notice tiny little differences from time to time in the sprite work, but as a whole the game is picture perfect. Vibrant colours are abound and there are plenty of enemies and terrains to enjoy. The same can be said of the musical presentation the game features. All the classic tunes and sound effects are intact and you'll swear, at times, that you're playing the arcade original. The developers have done a fantastic job of capturing all of the fun, look, and sound of the original.
Everything about Xevious holds up well, even given the age of the game. The controls are still very crisp and the overall gameplay package still feels fresh for gamers who can appreciate a great shooter. It's nice to see a simple gameplay scheme still feel relevant, even three decades later.
Xevious on the NES was a solid and very straightforward port of an arcade classic. While there are no additional bells and whistles, the game represents everything that was great about the arcade original and does so in a way that should please fans of the game. The simplicity of the game still resounds and proves that you don't always have to have a lot of complexity to make a fun shooting experience. If you can appreciate a good old-fashioned arcade shooter, you should definitely give Xevious a try. About the only thing better would be a straight up arcade release on the Virtual Console.