I would like to recognize the diligent Yeoman’s work being performed by MobyGames users ALAKA and beetle120 (beetle120, I knew you had what it takes when I saw your remarkably thorough entry for The Black Bass, including 29 screenshots). They have been systematically reviewing my list of NES games missing from the database and entering stuff that even I don’t want to bother with. Thanks to our combined efforts, there are fewer than 30 [known, American] NES games left to enter; when I first compiled the list a few years ago, there were well over 200. I’m placing the remainder of the list into their capable hands and moving on to the list of missing SNES games that festershinetop helped to compile, which currently names over 170 U.S. SNES releases missing from the database. Time to go to work.
The SNES remains my all-time second favorite gaming console behind the NES. This, despite the fact that I never extensively played very many games for the console. However, I would have liked to; the SNES was technically the NESx2, i.e., everything that the NES was, doubled. Since I adored NES games, I generally really enjoyed SNES games that I had an opportunity to play.
I’m not necessarily working from the end of the list; Xardion just caught my eye tonight. I want to like the SNES games I’m playing here. However, much like the leftover NES games that I suffered through, I shouldn’t expect many of the unentered SNES games to be star performers. With any luck, I’ll find one or two Little Samsons, but it will take some searching. Xardion is not one of those rare jewels. No manual for this one; as usual with old console games, I’m flying completely blind. The opening expository text scroller (that you can’t skip) explains that there are 3 warring planets that decided to set aside their differences in the face of imminent invasion from an even more hostile alien force. Ostensibly, each planet sends a warrior emissary to collaboratively deal with this threat.
I had trouble dealing with the fact that this alien boss monster is actually named “Arms”:
You expect evil aliens to be named something along the lines of Blargzor. Or Xardion. Arms sounds more like a movie gangster nickname that describes a one-dimensional character’s trademark attribute. Like Xardion “Arms” Blargzor.
Anyway, I’m thrust into the action with a big, mean, plodding robot. He can shoot and he can jump. I stumble upon a subscreen by accident (‘select’, rather than the more standard ‘start’ to access said screen) and there are two more characters I can select: Alcedes and Panthera (and it turns out the robot is named Triton). This characteristic reminds me of the widely criticized — yet adored by me — original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the NES. Panthera is, as his name implies, a panther-like creature. Alcedes here defies description, except to say that he’s red and very alien-looking:
It’s difficult to say whether any of the characters have unique capabilities over each other. They’re equally slow (even Panthera). Triton is capable of aiming his weapon straight up, so that’s something. Panthera is the smallest of the crew and can implicitly avoid certain attacks and also get to certain tight spots. It’s hard to say what Alcedes can do that the other 2 can’t, although he and Triton can both jump higher than Panthera. Here is Triton exercising his awesome ability of shooting upwards:
The game features experience points and levels for the characters; the character that actually made the creature kill is awarded points as opposed to being a team thing. The obvious reward for leveling up is extended health. However, the only way I found to refill health is to be killed and sent back to the beginning of the level. And even then, only the character who was active has their health refilled; the other 2 in reserve get to limp along with whatever they have.
And speaking of getting killed and sent back to the start of the level…
This is the first boss. Arms, in case you missed it the first time. I couldn’t beat him, and I tried. Though it’s tough to maintain motivation when you have to work through a simple but tedious level again if you screw up. There are a number of weapons and other items scattered throughout the game. Any character can collect them but each seems to be keyed to a particular character. Above, Triton is seen ineffectively wielding the plasma something-or-other special weapon that’s not quite long enough to be useful in this scenario. Obviously, it didn’t help during the battle and, frankly, left me feeling rather inadequate.
The various weapons and items are shown on the subscreen but it is not at all obvious how to reach them.
Up and down selects the current character. Advanced tip: pressing the ‘A’ button unintuitively puts the focus into the bottom left box which can select a special weapon. I am at a loss to explain what those items in the lower right box are for (come on, squint! you can read that text) or how to access them, though I can tell you that they are shared among all the characters. I would like to think that at least one of them refills health.
All in all, this crew reminds me of the protagonist alien race from Galaxy Quest– aliens who are trying to get their act together and make something of themselves in this universe but who are about to get totally PWNed by a vastly superior race. And I don’t think Tim Allen is going to show up to bail these guys out; he’s busy in his own SNES game.