Company: Atari
Model #:
Jim Huether (Programmer) and Alan Murphy (Graphics)
Year: 1984
Based on the 1982 Namco/Atari coin-op


It's dangerous, it's devious, it's Xevious.  Never before has a tag line so perfectly summed up a video game.  Xevious was one of the first (if not the first) in a new genre of arcade games: the scrolling shooter.  While we make take such games for granted today, back in 1982 such a concept was unheard of.  Most games of the time had only one non-scrolling screen, which seriously limited their creativity.  One screen shooters like Galaga and Galaxian were ok, but players hungered for something different.  Xevious satisfied that hunger.


We Have Seen the Aliens. and They Are Us!

It's a nightmare, but it's true.  Scientific research has determined that we are the actual aliens on Earth and the evil Xevions are the original inhabitants.  Now the Xevions want Earth back. minus the humans! Earth's last hope is an experimental fighter plane known as the Solvalou.  The mission is dangerous, success isn't guaranteed, and odds are this is a one-way trip.  But at this point it's do or die!


As Earth's last hope, you must successfully defeat the Xevion assault fleet before they reclaim earth.  However this won't be an easy task, the Xevions have had over a millennia to develop the biggest, nastiest, and most destructive ships Earth has ever seen.  Thankfully the Solvalou is armed with the latest in weapons technology which will cut through the Xevion hordes like a hot knife through butter.  The Solvalou has two main weapons, a laser blaster for taking out air targets, and a photon bomber for destroying ground targets.  Over the course of the game you'll run into numerous enemy types which can only be destroyed using the appropriate weapon, so mastering the dual shot (air and ground) technique is vital.



Target Acquired.

Air targets come in the form of enemy ships.  There are a wide variety of ships, each with their own unique attack patterns and personalities:

Toroid Fleet Ships
These round rotating objects are the first and most common enemy encountered in Xevious.  Gliding in from the left or right, a small squad of Toroids will stop in front of your ship, fire, and quickly retreat in the direction they came.  Thankfully Toroids are quite slow and don't pose much of a threat unless you happen to be distracted by something else at the time.
Torkan Scout Ships
Torkan Scouts are similar to Toroids except they move much quicker and fly in from the top of the screen at different angles, then stops and releases a single shot before zooming even more quickly away from whence it came.
Zoshi Death Squads
These odd shaped ufo's move in erratic patterns around the screen.  As their name suggests, Zoshi Death Squads are quick and deadly.  Take great care when attempting to engage them as it would be a very bad idea to let one or more get behind you.
Terazzi Deflector
This oblong diamond-shaped ship has the ability to zoom quickly in and hover in place long enough to rapidly fire shots at you before evading and escaping.
Giddo Spario (Energy Blast)
These tiny white balls of energy are fast and hard to see.  Unless you're careful a swarm of these will wipe your ship out in no time.  Take these kamikaze bastards out as quick as possible.

Zakato Energy Launcher (Black Ball)

Black Balls (also known as 8-Balls) are on of the deadliest enemies in Xevious.  Appearing out of nowhere, Black Balls self-destruct into a fast moving bullet which will then launch itself at you.  While one or two are easy to avoid, Black Balls like to swarm and appear right next to your ship making them all the more deadly.  Black Balls tend to herald the arrival of Andor Genesis, so when they start to appear you know Andor isn't far behind.

Mirrors (Bacura Shields)

Mirrors are the single most annoying enemy in Xevious.  These large rotating squares appear in large swarms at various points in the game.  Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but they are INDESTRUCTABLE!  That's right, all you can do is avoid them and hope one doesn't go smashing into your cockpit.  Thankfully Mirror swarms are fairly uncommon.
Andor Genesis
This is the big one, the Mother Ship!  Andor Genesis is a hulking air fortress armed with four laser cannons just dying to blow you out of the sky.  The only way to defeat Andor Genesis is with a direct hit on the rector core with a photon bomb (think Star Wars), however getting close enough to Andor Genesis without being hit is a major challenge.  Destroying the rector will cause Andor Genesis will cause it to flee and prepare itself for another attack.



Ground targets are mostly optional since they pose far less danger than air targets.  Using the targeting computer (projected in front of the ship), you can carefully take out all those annoying defense stations scattered throughout the landscape.  Also note that your targeting computer will light up when a hidden citadel is detected.

Grobda Tank
Grobda Tanks are a little craftier than the Domogram Rovers.  These tanks sit motionless until fired upon, one your bomb is dropped they will suddenly lurch forward or backward out of harms way.  Grobda Tanks are completely harmless and never shoot at your ship.
Logram Sphere Station
Sphere Stations are the most common defensive structure that you'll encounter.  These small purplish domes will occasionally shoot a quick moving energy bullet at your ship.  Take them out quickly before they become a problem.
Boza Logram Dome Network
No this isn't a TV station, these large cross structures contain four Sphere Stations surrounded by a central core.  A direct hit on the core will take out the whole structure and earn you big bonus points.
Derota Defense Station
These nasty little structures are similar to Logram Sphere Stations except they fire a continuous stream of bullets at your ship.  Take these stations out ASAP or you'll find yourself in a whole world of trouble.
Garu Derota Mega Station
The name says it all, these large structures are a supercharged version of the Derota Defense Station and shoot twice as fast.  Use extreme caution when attempting to bomb them.
Barra Energy Station
These square pyramid shaped structures provide power for the Xevion assault fleet. Barra Energy Stations have absolutely no defenses and are completely harmless.  Take them out only when you're not under heavy attack.
Zolbak Detector Dome
These round shaped structures resemble exhaust ports.  Like Barra Energy Stations, Zolbak Domes are completely harmless.  Take them out for extra points.
Sol Citadels
Sol Citadels are special hidden structures which can only be detected by your targeting computer.  When your target lights up, a Citadel is hidden directly below it. Bombing a Citadel will cause it to rise out of the ground and allow you to bomb it again (this time destroying it).  Sol Citadels are hard to find, but are worth big points if you can destroy them.



With its large amount of enemies, Xevious is a most impressive game.  The Atari 5200 version is a very good effort to bring the arcade magic home, but some corners had to be cut.  The graphics are good and get the job done, but are occasionally hard to decipher do to the lack of detail (this is the 5200 we're talking about).  The choice of colors is questionable and appear to be rather washed out, however this may have had something to do with the graphics mode used.  The sound effects are pretty much the same as the arcade game, but the short background tune is VERY annoying and continuously repeats throughout the game.  Thankfully the background music can be turned off...


While the sounds and visuals may be a mixed bag, it's in the gameplay that Xevious really shines.  Almost all the enemies from the arcade game made it into this version (from Black Balls to Mirrors), and are annoying as ever.  The dual button 5200 controller is perfectly suited to Xevious's two button firing scheme (one button for lasers, one button for bombs).  The challenge of the arcade game seems to be intact, which was often a problem in arcade to home conversions.


Recently a disk containing a mock up of the the title screen was discovered on a disk in the collection of former Atari artist Jerome Domurat.  This title screen would probably have appeared before the current title screen which has room for all the options.  It is unknown why this title screen doesn't appear in the last know prototype, but it may indicate that a still later prototype exists somewhere.  The colors are also very different from those used in the final which would indicate that this screen wasn't yet finalized.  Special thanks to John Hardie and the National Videogame Museum for finding this disk and releasing it to the public.

So how come Xevious was never released?  According to Jim:

"It was ready for release, but it got held up when Atari started going through some real internal turmoil. Then at one point, they asked me to change it to Dune. That was ridiculous, and by that time I was fed up with the way Atari was changing, so I asked to be laid off, and they finally agreed in June of 1984, just before Jack Tramiel bought the company"

While the latest version of Xevious is fully playable it has a nasty bug that causes it to crash after reaching the second Nazca bird glyph.  Interestingly two of the ten known versions do not have this bug, but they're both from different points in development.  The first (10/13/83) is a mid-level prototype and the second (11/28/84) is a much later prototype but not the latest known version.  It's unknown what causes this bug or why it only appears in certain versions.  Interestingly it appears that an Atari 400/800 port was never announced even though most games were eventually ported between the systems. 

A prototype box can be seen in this picture (third row, sixth box) 

Version Cart Text Description
9/20/83 Xevious 9-20  
10/13/83 Xevious 10-13-83 Graphical and sound differences.  Does not have crashing bug.
11/7/83 Xevious 11-7 Multi-cart version
11/15/83 Xevious 11-15
11/21/83 Xevious 11-21
11/23/83 Xevious 11-23  
Xevious #1 11-28 Does not have crashing bug
1/4/84 Xevious 1-4-84 Close to final


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