Modern gaming sucks. It’s a sick, pathetic, thinly-disguised corporate pyramid scam that drags you kicking and screaming through a sanitized nightmare casino-themed digital asylum with your hands tied behind your back and your wallet duct-taped open onto your god damned forehead.

Fun? No. It ain’t fun. It’s a travesty and a crime and I’m well past done with it.

”You don’t see them f****** each other over for a goddamn percentage!”

I mean, what the hell happened…? What happened to the exciting, supercool memory and reaction tests of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras? What happened to videogames… The ones that built an industry and permanently burned themselves into the hearts, minds, and synapses of an entire generation?

Whatever happened, thank the gaming gods that retro (i.e. real) gaming is a thriving scene today, and thank them again twice over for people like the UK-based outfit Bitmap Bureau because they’ve just done it right.

“They’re comin’ outta the walls! They’re comin’ outta the god damn walls!”

Two years in the making, their crowd-funded odds-defying stonker Xeno Crisis has now arrived on the Mega Drive. Yep, on the actual Sega Mega Drive as either a physical cartridge or a Rom for play via the Great Miracle of emulation. It’s also out now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, and it’s coming soon on the Dreamcast and the mighty Neo Geo. Yeah. That’s right. These guys get it.

“Let’s rock!!!”

Its Aliens meets Smash TV and Shock Troopers. How rad is it? Oh, it’s rad… It’s very rad. It’s easily one of the best games on the Mega Drive and a true 16-bit gem. Hell, if we sent a copy of this thing back to the early 90s it could turn the tide of the System Wars, it’s that good.

Crammed with love for 16-bit hall of fame winners like Mercs, Total Carnage, Outzone, The Chaos Engine, Area 88, and Truxton, it’s catnip for true gamers. Aliens is burnt deep into this thing’s DNA, but for movie and genre fans the party doesn’t stop there. Terminator, Tremors and Starship Troopers all get a nod, while Predator and H.P. Lovecraft get some serious appreciation.

“Payback time!”

Procedural generation is coded in so no two games are exactly alike. It mixes-up enemies, small obstacles and basic level layouts but it’s kept in check so it doesn’t go too far and make things unfamiliar. The graphics, by pixel-artists Henk Nieborg and Catherine Menabde, are glorious and among the best on any 16-bit system. The music, by YouTube Mega Drive sound chip god Savaged Regime, is absolute gravy. It’s easily as good as the music in Streets Of Rage 2 and Mega Turrican, if not better. It’s so good you’ll barely notice how much the effects and voices rock too.

And oh man, it plays like an absolute dream… Chose from tight 3-button or twin-stick controls, and get to work. You can tell this thing was play-tested over and over during development and tweaked to perfection on instinct and feel by gamers. It’s smooth, slick, fast, fun and hard. The way a videogame should be.

Xeno-Crisis-2
“Apparently, she saw an alien once.”

You load it up and you start shooting aliens. There are no tutorials. There’s no DLC. There are no updates. There’s no season passes, loot boxes, or weak-ass ‘pay-to-win’ shortcuts. There is no ‘modern’ BS whatsoever. But there is an emergency. An emergency in space! It’s up to you! Press play, Marine! GO! RUN!! SHOOT THE ALIENS! SHOOT THEM!! Shoot them with your pulse rifle! Shoot them with Hicks’ shotgun! Shoot them with Ripley’s flamethrower! Shoot them with Ol’ Painless from Predator!! SHOOT THEM ALL!! YEAH!!!

It’s not ‘interactive entertainment’, whatever the hell that’s supposed to be…

No. It’s a videogame. Do you remember those…?

Graphics: 5/5

Sound: 5/5

Gameplay: 5/5

OVERALL: 5/5

These guys ROCK. Buy this game so they make more! Buy it NOW. Don’t “share” it, punks! We all owe them for this one. They made the awesome 16-bit Aliens console shoot-em-up we never got! They really did it! Send cigars to: Bitmap Bureau, Southampton, England!

Preorders can be found here

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