Xargon (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39505)
Written on  :  Oct 19, 2004
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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If Jungle Jill had a husband, it's got to be Malvineous Havershim

The Good

Xargon was made by Epic MegaGames in 1994 as one of their commercial products. The game consists of three episodes, including "Beyond Reality", "The Secret Chamber", and "Xargon's Fury", and out of these three. episode one could be freely downloaded from Epic's web site (not any more) or one of the shareware sites. If you enjoyed the first episode, you could purchase it from Epic themselves or your favorite software store.

A demo inside the game provides you with a sneak preview of an area that is found in each episode.

Story: The game tells the story of archeologist Malvineous Havershim, who studies the blue-colored structures in the forests of Madagascar. These structures were constructed by ancient people, known as the "Blue Builders". While taking a break, Malvineous gets transported to the land where the Blue Builders came from to do a important task: Destroy an evil force called Xargon and his army of monsters.

Gameplay: When you start the game, you are represented with a map along with your character. You must enter an area, either revealed by a flashing X or some other structure. You can read journals along the way, detailing Malvineous's adventures so far. Each episode has over 10 areas (with the exception of episode one: the episode is much shorter than the others). In each level, you will encounter grunts, bumblebees, caterpillars, trolls, ants, robots, leeches, "xargbots", and much more, and some enemies will shoot one or two bullets at you if you don't shoot them first. Furthermore, you should watch out for hazards like spikes, arrows, and lava. When you complete an area, the X will be "burnt out" on the map, meaning that you cannot enter that area again, and the same goes for other locations that are not "x'ed". Malvineous always has a new set of clothes each time he goes on an adventure, that's for sure. In the first episode, he wears a white vest and blue jeans, while in the second, he wears a blue vest and green pants. And in the third, he wears a green vest and red pants.

To help you, you are given a laser shot, which is not very powerful. However, you can get an extra laser shot or a series of fireballs, either by getting an icon that is floating in the air, or by saving up several emeralds to buy what you want, and you can buy weapons by pressing [B] on your keyboard and selecting the weapon from the menu that appears. You can also get rocks that you can throw at enemies, but the weapon is not available from the menu. Look for emeralds somewhere on the level, or in one of the blue boxes that drop down from the sky (but you have to shoot them first.) Your health is represented by five energy bars. If you are touched or shot at by an enemy, you lose one energy bar. If all five energy bars are gone, you'll die and restart the area again. (There's no need to worry about lives in this game as your lives are unlimited.) If you come in contact with a hazard, then it's a total kill. You can regain an energy bar not only by collecting hearts or shooting some blue boxes, but by also buying a bar using the same method when you buy weapons) and getting a certain number of fruit. (The fruit can be found floating around the air or inside the boxes.) A warning about those blue boxes: some boxes contain nitroglycerin, a chemical that when shot at will cause five flames to jet out, so it is best to stand clear when you are shooting them.

Instead of running around the area trying to locate the exit, you will need to do other tasks as well, such as flipping switches that will open a few passages in the area, or finding a colored key that will open certain doors. Some platforms in an area are too hard for Malvineous to reach, so he either needs to locate a spring that will hoist him up there, find an elevator or some Xibok shoes. You can even change into a bumblebee and fly around anywhere you like. There are gates in each of the three maps that you have to unlock by collecting a gate key, which can be found in a specific areas. Furthermore, to complete the game, you must find three power objects that will enhance your power. Silvertongue, the eagle, will pop up in some areas and tell you what these objects are. Fail to get gate keys or power objects and you won't be able to complete the area until you get these. The last area in each episode requires you to destroy Xargon's three reactors, and it is these levels that are the most difficult. You will probably spend a lot of time trying to complete the level. Usually on the last levels, the xargbots will respawn themselves and must get out of range unless you are going on a killing spree. Once you've managed to destroy all three reactors, you can go on defeating Xargon himself.

This game plays the same as Jill off the Jungle: you run around a map, and you enter areas where the object is to battle a horde of enemies and find the exit. The graphics are much more detailed than Jill.

Graphics: Almost on each level, you see some structures that are well-designed. Unlike Jill, you don't have the option of playing the game in CGA or EGA, so you miss out if you don't have a VGA card. And these amazing level of graphics is repeated when you enter caves, castles, and other scenes.

Music & Sound: The sounds are excellent too, and Epic has given much thought about how to create them. I like the sound that plays when you hit an enemy with whatever weapon you have, especially the grunts, ants, and leeches. Malvineous sounds like a sheep when he runs out of energy and dies. As you would expect, the Xargbots make a computerized sound when they shoot at you or die.

The Bad

In Jill off the Jungle, you can save the game anywhere and at anytime. This means that you could get halfway through the area and save your game in case there are some nasty enemies ahead, so when you die, you can restore to that point and not go back to the beginning of the area. Unfortunately, this is not available in Xargon. You can save only when you are on the map, meaning that when you die, you go back to the beginning of the area, and the areas can be difficult. I lost count on the number of times that I tried to survive the "Dungeon of Death" in volume three. Furthermore, if you die, the enemies that you destroyed will re-appear, causing minutes of frustration Also missing is the NoiseMaker, the feature that lets you produce sounds from the game by tapping the keys on your keyboard.

It is possible that you can play Xargon on a high-end machine, but expect the sounds to crack the shits after 20 minutes of play, regarding a good restart to fix.

The Bottom Line

If you have managed to play Jill of the Jungle, and liked the idea of running around a map and entering unexplored area, you will find Xargon and the following games an exciting experience: the Commander Keen games, Secret Agent, Crystal Caves, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World.

Rating: ****