Reviewed by RandX

Written 2/24/02

Intro: Xexyz is one of those games that is often overlooked. Due to its variety in gameplay and weirdness, it's difficult to compare it to another game when trying to explain to somebody what it's like. The game takes place on Earth in the year 2777. Only five islands are left as a result of nuclear war and they made up one nation called Xexyz. Humans, creatures, and fairies alike lived in peace under the rule of King Xeu Star. Naturally, this reign did not last long as a fiend named Goruza launched an assault on Earth. All your base are belong to Goruza and a new reign of terror ensued. However, Apollo, a battle soldier, decided he would not endure Goruza's treatment any longer, and began to fight back.

Gameplay and Fun (28/40): Like I mentioned before, Xexyz's gameplay is varied and strange. The gameplay can be broken down into 3 parts, which is nice because it adds variety to the game and breaks up the monotony. The first part takes place on the surface of one of the islands. At first glance, these appear to be typical side scrolling action sequences. However, you just don't go from point A to point B. In each of these scenes, you must find a secret room, defeat a demon, and retrieve a force star, which grants access to the mechanic castle on that island. Along the way, you can poke in the various rooms. Some of these rooms are shops, some have helpful characters that give hints, some are bonus games, and some are fairies in hot tubs waiting to be rescued.(No, I'm not joking.) All the different rooms and character interaction adds a nice touch to what would otherwise be another mundane side scroller shoot em up.

But just because it would be mundane for that reason doesn't mean it's not fun to play. The stages are filled with a myriad of enemies, so you will always be kept on your toes. Most of the enemies even go along with the theme of the particular island. Almost no two foes are alike in terms of looks or behavior patterns, so the game almost never gets monotonous. Also, there are different weapons and items to experiment and play with, adding even more depth to the game. Certain weapons work better in certain areas, so the player is forced to use a little strategy as well as quick reflexes. Some areas can get a little hairy at times, so players who aren't as good may find themselves getting frustrated. There are some parts where you must jump from one narrow platform to another, all the while taking care not to fall or get knocked in a pit. Apollo can take quite a thrashing, but there is no period of invincibility after taking a hit, which means it's possible to get juggled and take several hits in a row. Also, collision detection is extremely picky, sometimes to the point where it doesn't even look like you are touching anything. Despite all this, the game is not unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination. With practice and strategy, even mediocre players should be able to get through the more difficult areas.

After you obtain the force star, you can then enter a mechanic castle. These are also side scroller action sequences, but they are mazes, as opposed to linear left to right. In the middle of each mechanic castle, you will have to ride in some sort of vehicle while shooting enemies. The screen scrolls automatically during these scenes, and at the end of each corridor, you have to pick between two doors. You're probably thinking, "Cool, this game has multiple paths." No, actually if you pick the wrong door, you have to start the corridor all over again. I don't mind a little bit of challenge, but I personally think giving the player a 50/50 shot of advancing is cheap. There are also speed and blaster power ups in these areas. Unfortunately, you have to collect 2-3 blaster power ups before you notice a difference. After that, they don't help you any more. What's the point in having power ups if they don't improve your capabilities that much? Despite all this, these areas are fairly easy, since they are short and few enemies inflict much damage. They are fun to play since they are fast paced and filled with enemies to shoot. Anyway, after finishing this little run, you will proceed a little further in the mechanic castle until you run into the boss. Boss fights consist of you standing on a hovering platform that you must maneuver. Some boss battles are easy since the boss has an easy to learn pattern, but some boss battles are rather arduous. The bosses themselves are huge, and some of them fill the screen with bullets and fireballs, almost to the point where taking hits is inevitable. Plus boss bullets take off a ton of health. There are a couple of bosses that may cause so much frustration that the player will find himself to stop playing. Still, the mix of easy and hard battles balances it out a bit, and the harder ones are later in the game.

The last facet of the game is where you ride a cyborg rider to get from one island to the next. These areas are similar to the vehicle parts in the mechanic castle, except several times harder. A few enemies during this part are seemingly invincible, and the scrolling speeds up considerably near the end of the stage. At this point, it's almost impossible to comprehend what is happening fast enough to react, unless you are a Jedi. There are also bosses at the end of these areas, which is sometimes unfair since a couple of these stages are nearly impossible to get through without taking massive damage. Still, these areas are fun to play and are a nice touch in order to break up the monotony. The side scroller areas are more fun though.

Play Control (19/25): The control pad moves Apollo, B shoots, and A jumps. Apollo can even duck and shoot and point straight up and shoot, which really helps eliminate those pesky airborne menaces. The controls are pretty responsive. The only gripe I have is controlling jumps is a bit awkward. First off, Apollo does not stay in the air long at all. He comes down almost immediately after a leap. You can imagine how this could throw you if you are trying to make your way across narrow platforms without falling or getting knocked in the pit. In most games, you can hold the A button longer to execute a higher jump. In this game, you must hold up while pressing A to perform the high jump. It's a bit awkward, but it can be mastered with some practice.

Replay Value (7/15): Upon completion of this game, you will receive two passwords. One allows you to play only odd numbered levels, which are the side scoller stages, and the other allows you to play only even numbered levels, which are the cyborg rider stages. I don't think the gameplay is different in any way, but this is a nice addition in case you happen to like one set of levels more than the other. Other than that, there is little reason to play the game over. Since the mechanic castle sections are mazes, you may want to explore areas you didn't get around to on your first try. Maybe you could try getting through different areas with different weapons and items and see how it helps or hinders you. Probably the biggest reason to replay this game is because it gives you a rush since it's so action packed and fast paced.

Graphics (8/10): The game is presented rather well with nicely done backgrounds. The characters you interact with are mostly drawn for the most part, especially the Queens you have to save.(heh heh) The bosses are very well drawn and detailed; most of them look rather intimidating and take up a good portion of the screen. One little detail I like is how Apollo's visor changes color depending on what weapon you currently posses. It's also a bit humorous how Apollo spins before dying. Some of the enemies are rather drab, and it's hard to tell what a few are actually supposed to be.

Music and Sound (8/10): The game contains some cool pieces of music. The boss battle theme is nicely done and fast and energetic; it really keeps you pumped up while fighting. The pieces for the cyborg rider stages are sort of laid back and relaxing, which is actually a sharp contrast to those areas since they are so hairy. Still, it's a nicely done piece of music. The mechanic castle piece fits the mood perfectly. It has this sense of loneliness and is also upbeat at the same time. A few songs are mediocre and aren't memorable, but none are annoying. The sound effects are nicely done too for the most part. The effect for Apollo shooting his gun has this futuristic feel to it. The explosion sounds you hear after defeating a boss is cool. The effect for taking hits is a bit annoying as well as the dying effect. Thankfully though, there is no irritating beeping sound for when you are low on health. The dying effect sounds like this high pitched wail.

Conclusion: Xexyz is a game that is unfortunately overlooked. It has varied gameplay, and the action never lets up for a second. There are a few parts that may be a bit too frustrating and cheap, but most of the areas are a blast to play. I highly recommend that you pick this game up even if you aren't a fan of shooters.

(Final Score: 70/100)

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