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