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An even better shooter than its original, Xenon 2 is a SHMUP masterpiece from Bitmap Brothers, although this PC version did not sell nearly as well as its Amiga counterpart. Piloting the "Megablaster" ship, your mission is to survive five levels, blasting hundreds of aliens in the process. The enemies are very creatively designed and more varied than in Xenon: each type of enemy ship has its own flying and attack patterns, including kamikaze (very nasty and hard to avoid). Most enemies you kill leave behind glass orbs which can be collected and used as currency to buy weapon upgrades and other power-ups for your ship. The shop is well stocked with a wide range of power-ups, from your basic energy boosts to a cool item called "Super Nashwan Power," which destroys everything on screen. There is also a little strategy involved in choosing what to buy next, although a lot of it comes from trial and error: if a rear-mounted gun is best for a certain level, you probably wouldn't know it until you already played that level and get killed in the process ;)
Like all Bitmap Bros. games, Xenon 2 introduces small but significant innovations to the genre. Chief among these is the ability to stop the parallax scrolling and scroll the screen backwards This isn't just a gimmick: at various points in the game, you need to use this feature to backtrack from a deadend, or to attack different parts of huge bosses. The game is more difficult than Xenon, but not so difficult as to be frustrating. And despite the steep learning curve, you will be too busy being addicted to notice ;)
The graphics and sounds are on par with other Bitmap Bros. games, which means they are superb throughout. Bitmap Brothers deserves recognition as one of the first game developers to use professional musicians to score their games. Definitely one of the best-looking and most fun SHMUP in PC gaming history, and a must-have for every shooter fan.
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Xenon 2 screenshots
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