I was very impressed with this on the Spectrum as it’s a great conversion from the 16-Bit originals and the music is top notch, Tiny Williams did a superb job adapting Dave Whittakers original music. These are great tunes that perfectly suit the action and the style of the game.

The music on the C64 version though? Well a nice attempt by Paul Tonge but the music lacks the punch and vibrancy that the Spectrum has. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good solid piece but when compared side to side the C64 version is found wanting. It’s really not that good at all. Sorry C64 fans but it really is a dire piece of music and doesn’t do the C64 or the SID chip any favours.

The Game

From the moment that Captain Xod’s face appeared out of the static on the communicator, you knew he was in trouble. As the only other Federation ship in the sector you had to go to his aid. You need to fight your way through sixteen zones, collecting essential supplies for the fleet. At the end of each sector you have a chance to refuel and restock but only after you have defeated the most vicious alien you have ever seen.

A strategic vertically scrolling shoot-em-up. You have the option of swapping between two very different craft, to suit the challenge facing you at the time; either a ground-based saucer or well-armed, and faster fighter aircraft.

A fast-moving, thinking man’s shoot-em-up.

Critical Reaction

The Spectrum gaming press were all highly impressed by this game;

  • Your Sinclair Megagame with a 9/10 rating,
  • Sinclair User Classic with a 90/100 rating,
  • Crash rated it 84/100.

A very good conversion which, as space shoot ’em ups go, is a bit of a rip snorter! A mite tricky, but well playable and addictive to boot! – YS

There is no doubt that Xenon is a quality product, the graphics are very good and the 128K tune is amazingly close to the ST’s. Gameplay isn’t bad either, although the switching between aircraft and hover-ship doesn’t add that much to the shoot-’em-up genre. So why isn’t it a Smash? The main problem is the game’s toughness, Level Three in particular is absolutely maddening, and killing the big aliens takes ages. All the levels look great, though, and once multiloaded in you can play a level as often as you want without going back to Level One. If you fancy a really hard challenge this is probably what you need. – Crash

My Thoughts…?

I first played Xenon on my friends Atari ST. He’d previously had a Spectrum but did enjoy rubbing in the fact that his parent’s had bought him his shiny Atari ST and how much better it was etc etc etc….

Anyway, out comes the Spectrum version in glorious monochromatic colours. Did it matter? Not really as the game is brilliant, a superb conversion from the 16bit machines. Nice graphics and a superb soundtrack made this game a must buy on the Spectrum.

The Music

ZX Spectrum

Commodore 64

About Phendrena

Father, Retro Gamer, PC Gamer.

2 responses »

  1. Glen McNamee says:

    Yeah. The c64 music is kind of terrible. I wonder why Paul Tonge did it instead of David Whittaker. As a lot of David music was written over multiple formats.

    • phendrena says:

      I was also wondering why he didn’t do it for the Spectrum too. Odd considering the similarities between the AY chip in the Atari ST and the AY chip used in the Spectrum. I wonder if he was busy working on other projects at the time…

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