Another Sunday means another episode of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, the (hopefully) weekly series where I play through all of the games listed in the book - 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. If I played the game before, then I will share my memory of the experience. If I haven't played the game before, then I find an online version or an emulator and I play the game (for at least 30 minutes). This is a book every gamer should have in their library, and if you're interested in purchasing it, you can find it here.

Last week was Q*Bert. Who hasn't heard of that game, right? So I didn't have to play it because I've played it so many times before. I did read some interesting facts about the game and even shared some of them in the blog.  This week features a game that, not only have I not played, I don't even think I have ever heard of it.


I'm guessing you pronounce it like devious but with a, zevious? Anyway, that's how I'm pronouncing it. I'm surprised I've never heard of the game because it has made a few cameo appearances and been referenced by several other games.

Xevious is a vertical scrolling shooter arcade game by Namco, released in 1983. In North America, the game was manufactured and distributed by Atari. Xevious runs on Namco Galaga hardware.

 The player uses an 8-way joystick to pilot a combat aircraft called a Solvalou, which is armed with a forward-firing Zapper for aerial targets and a Blaster which fires an unlimited supply of air-to-surface bombs for ground targets. The game, presumably set in Peru, was noted for the varied terrain below, which included forests, airstrips, bases, and mysterious Nazca Line-like drawings on the ground.

Xevious was one of the earliest vertical scrolling shooters (it was preceded by at least the 1981 Atari 8-bit computer game Caverns of Mars) and greatly influenced games in this genre. The graphics were revolutionary for their time, and characters were rendered with remarkable clarity and effect through careful use of shades of gray and palette-shifting.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The co-author of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die mentioned in his entry for the game it was included because it was one of the earliest vertical scrolling shooters and because of its state of the art graphics (for its time, I guess). Apparently it was also the first or one of the first to use a non-space background, instead using actual terrain. He also states the game was quite popular in Japan but never really took off in the United States or Europe.

Some other interesting facts...

In Star Fox: Assault, which was co-developed by Namco, the Special Flags are hidden secrets in the game's stages. The pickup sound for the flag is exactly the same as that in Xevious. Additionally, the NES version of Xevious is unlockable if the player earns every silver medal in the game.

 In Tales of Symphonia, which was developed by Namco, there is an enemy called "Bacura," which is one of the invincible flying panels from Xevious. It only appears at one point in the game, and has a very high defense, making it hard to defeat.

In both Mario Kart Arcade GP and Mario Kart Arcade GP 2, arcade versions (co-developed by Namco) of Nintendo's popular Mario Kart series of games, Pac-Man appears as a playable character. One of his selectable karts is the Solvalou spacecraft.

In EarthBound, music from Xevious can be heard in the background noise at the Onett arcade.

Although not a reference within a video game, the Solvalou ship is available as an avatar on the PlayStation Network.

(Source: Also I love Wikipedia. Could spend all day reading about stuff there.)

Finding a place to play the game was relatively easy. Apparently it has been ported to a bunch of other systems over the years, so I visited a website where I play lots of other older games. The old Classic Arcade Games website. You can play Xevious here.

My thoughts on the game.

Holy crap it is hard.

It sort of reminds me of River Raid - at least the vertical scrolling and the "state of the art" terrain graphics. I've played another game like this before but I can't think of it. Hmm, let's see...maybe elements of Galaxian or Galaga, as far as the way the enemies pour onto the screen in waves.

You have guns and bombs. You're supposed to bomb these ground based targets and shoot the enemy fighters. It is such a chaotic mess. Literally the first five or ten minutes of the game, the longest I survived was about 15 seconds. I couldn't tell you if it has levels or checkpoints, because I barely made it out of the starting gate. I did read this game is also credited as being one of the first to employ a boss battle. Apparently if you make it far enough, you have to fight a large UFO. There was no chance I'd make it this far. It's probably a good thing I never played this in the arcade as it would've eaten all of my quarters.

But, I've played it. I've scratched Xevious off the list of 1,001 games I have to play before I die. Not the most memorable game I've played thus far, but certainly not the worse (but maybe the hardest). I looked ahead and next week looks to be just as interesting. Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great week.



Previous Episodes:

Episode 1: 01 - 05 (here)

Episode 2: 06 - 10 (here)

Episode 3: 11 - 15 (here)

Episode 4: 16 - 20 (here)

Episode 5: 21 - 25 (here)

Episode 6: 26 - 30 (here)

Episode 7: 31 - 35 (here)

Episode 8: 36 - 40 (here)

Episode 41 (here)

Episode 42 (here)