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In this game the player assumes the role of a space pilot named Darrian. One day, he receives a report from a nebula space station, from which he learns that nearby human colonies have been attacked by mysterious aliens known as Xenites. Darrian wastes no time, and sets off to protect the humans and stop the aliens.

Xenon is an overhead shooter, in which the player controls a vehicle that is able to transform into a tank or a plane. The transformation can be usually performed by player at any time, to combat particular enemies; however, during some sequences the player is forced to use a specific type of vehicle. During the tank gameplay, the player controls the movement of the playfield (up or down) by simply moving the tank in the direction of choice.

The game features a 3D playfield (some enemies, for example, will be mounted on hills of sort, where the tank can't shoot them). To combat these, the player needs to transform its tank into a plane. The game then switches to the more familiar gameplay style as seen in other vertically scrolling shooters. The plane has to transform back into a tank again to combat most ground units. Upgrades can be taken from destroyed enemies.


Xenon Arcade Shuttle destroyed
Xenon Amstrad CPC Title screen
Xenon Commodore 64 Next level
Xenon Commodore 64 My tank is facing 2 cannons

Promo Images

There are no promo images for this game

Alternate Titles

  • "Kelly X" -- Working title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Another unworthy conversion MSX Игги Друге (44994)
Not even remotely as good as its successor. DOS Tomer Gabel (4354)
sets the standard for 16-bit shooters Amiga *Katakis* (38210)
Bad port of an ST classic DOS seymour butz (21)

Critic Reviews

Computer and Video Games (CVG) Atari ST Mar, 1988 9 out of 10 90
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Atari ST Oct, 1988 865 out of 1000 86
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) Atari ST Dec, 1987 10.25 out of 12 85
ST Action Atari ST May, 1988 85 out of 100 85
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) ZX Spectrum Apr, 1989 819 out of 1000 82
The Games Machine (UK) Commodore 64 Jun, 1989 82 out of 100 82
Commodore Format Commodore 64 Mar, 1992 81 out of 100 81
Zzap! Commodore 64 Jan, 1991 59 out of 100 59
Computer and Video Games (CVG) Commodore 64 Apr, 1991 52 out of 100 52
Commodore User Commodore 64 May, 1989 38 out of 100 38


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Digitized actor

The digitized face that exclaimed "Level One" at the beginning of the game (stunning for its time) was non other than Bitmap Brother Eric Matthews. (He later confessed that he altered the video manually to give himself a better haircut!)


The first game by The Bitmap Brothers, released in January 1988, Xenon was the first product that effectively showed how the 16 bit computers were capable of offering the game player a more challenging gaming experience. Through its combination of excellent graphics and a great sound track, Xenon set the standard for 16 bit games. After extensive coverage on ITV’s ‘Get Fresh’ it made history as the first ever Amiga game to enter the UK Top 40.

PC version

The PC version of the game suffered from having no music, since neither the Adlib (late 1988) nor Sound Blaster (1989) cards had been released at the time the game was finished. And until the Sound Blaster came out a year later there was no way of getting decent sound effects on the PC other than through the speaker beeps. The "Sector One" voice playback that it did have had to occur when nothing else was moving onscreen since it took a lot of fiddling with the 1-bit speaker output and couldn't afford any more time spent elsewhere. It was also stuck with the standard 16-colour EGA palette, which is why the colours looked off. VGA had been released a year earlier, but only on the original IBM machines and clone cards weren't yet widely available.

Working title

The game was intended to be named "Kelly X", which was derived from the programmer Steve Kelly's name. But after a final version was leaked by someone at the publisher Mastertronic to crackers in September 1987, the final game was renamed to Xenon for the release in January 1988.


  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)
Information also contributed by Dalroi and Stillman

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Contributed to by Quapil (4721), seymour butz (21), Kabushi (163027), Martin Smith (62904), Tomer Gabel (4354) and MAT (140907)