Approximate Release Month: April 1992
Developer: Asmik Ace Entertainment
Publisher: Asmik Ace Entertainment
Xardion has good ideas but lacks a fun foundation to go with them.
For example, Xardion features three different robots you can switch between at any point. Each robot – a generic Gundam-like mech with a gun, a mechanical panther, and a, uh, red thing – has their own weapons and experience levels. Having three different characters with their own pros and cons and switching between them intelligently to make use of their skills to traverse difficult areas would be awesome, but it doesn’t happen here. Only one character is worth using most of the time since he’s the only one that can shoot upwards.
The bad ideas snowball from there. Because only one robot in Xardion is worth using, the other two don’t get experience from killing enemies. Because the other two robots aren’t getting experience, you’ll never use them even if they’re suited for an area. This is a bad gameplay loop.
But even having some poorly thought out ideas would be fine if the game’s controls weren’t so stiff and unresponsive. The robots are slow and don’t feel powerful like giant robots should, especially when fighting bosses. They take too many hits with your pea-shooter to finish off.
I’m being hard on Xardion because even though the game has significant problems, I didn’t dislike the time I spent with it. It’s a forgiving game; when you die, you start over at the beginning of the stage but you keep the items and experience you earned on your failed attempt. You’re likely to naturally get past any difficult areas just because you’re constantly getting stronger with each attempt. Inertia will get you through the game more than anything else.
So even though Xardion isn’t good, it’s playable enough to maybe keep your interest for a little while. A tepid recommendation, sure, but the game has been forgotten for a reason.
Tomorrow: The NES version of The Rocketeer wasn’t terrible. The Super Nintendo one? About that…