Thursday, 19 November 2009
You don't expect an immediate twinge of objective doubt when booting up Namco's 1982 vertical scroll shooter Xevious, but that's exactly what you get. It's the behaviour of the opening waves of alien craft that give pause. These tiny schools of flying saucer drift towards the player, investigating your sudden zip-fighter appearance. The hubcap packs waft about lazily before noticing you're prick hard and ready for war. In the face of your relentless screen climb, the saucers bank rapidly, lurching away in a sharp, fearful peel. They never attack. Mechanically these enemies are tutorial drones allowing you to get your eye in against non-aggressors before the shooting back starts, but there's an underlying disquiet in their pacifist prodding, and your conditioned response to damage. Rather than protecting the Earth against shuffling invaders, Xevious seems to cast you as the trespasser. Armed with a Solvalou gunship, you've leapt into enemy territory and begun blasting commuters. The uniformly green landscape, and only spotted infrastructure seems to suggest you're bombarding an agricultural outpost. In Xevious you're not assaulting a techno-nightmare war base, you're simply severing supply lines.