Xenon 2 is one of our all-time favourite shoot em ups. When Adrian said he had the Jaguar version we were flabbergasted. When we played it to find it’s probably the best version of it there is (say what!), we were even more flabbergasted. And confuzzled. It’s a pleasure to introduce this insight to the homebrew Xenon 2 from one of its chief architects – Gary Taylor…
How did the opportunity arise to publish the re-mastered version of Xenon 2 on the Atari Jaguar?
A mutual friend of the publisher put us in touch.
Xenon 2 was a typical Bitmap Brothers game – classy, ahead of its time and tough! Were you always a fan of the game and how do you feel the Atari Jaguar version compares to the original?
I never had much to do with the ST, have always been a console guy, so I didn’t know much about Xenon 2, but had heard of the bitmap brothers. I got myself a copy of the game on the Master System to have a look at the game as it was the cheapest version around at the time! Having subsequently looked at YouTube footage of the ST version I think the Jaguar version is spot on. Even the music used, to me, is how the game should sound. It’s quite jarring to me to hear the original Bomb the Bass track with the game.
Is Xenon 2 the first game you have published?
We have published quite a few games now, starting with Aircars 94, the earliest known beta version of that game. We wanted to make it look like a genuine mid 90’s Jaguar release with a proper cardboard box, manual and overlay. It’s something we have tried to stick with for every game we’ve been involved with since. The current list so far includes Painter cartridge, Jaguar Hockey League (JHL) 15, Alice’s Mom’s Rescue cartridge and then Xenon 2.
Is Xenon 2 on the Atari Jaguar still available to buy and if so where can our readers grab a copy?
It’s still available to purchase and we’re doing email orders, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a copy. We aim to get the game to as many people as possible. There have been a few copies up on eBay, which we had hoped people wouldn’t do, but you can’t stop capitalism! There’s plenty available if you still need a copy. There is a special auction that will go up on eBay shortly with all proceeds going to charity. The auction will be a real Bitmap Brothers spectacular which includes a one off clear cartridge version of the game signed by Mike Montgomery himself along with some other exclusively signed materials (we want it!!! – Ed). At some point I do hope to finally get the peleiades.com website up and running, so everything can be had from one place.
How popular has Xenon 2 proved to be?
The success of the game has proven to be a surprise to all involved. We greatly underestimated demand for the game and are currently selling through the third run of the game. So if you see an eBay auction stating that the game is rare, it really isn’t!
What are your feelings about the Atari Jaguar and why do you think it wasn’t a success when it was launched in the early 90s?
I blame Atari for the failure of the Jaguar. They didn’t seem to have a proper plan for the console, many great ideas that were ahead of their time (VR anyone?), but a lack of vision (trying to make a 2D powerhouse do 3D!) and a lack of funds meant my hope of a new 2600 was almost dead in the water.
The Atari Jaguar has one of the most hardcore homebrew communities across any console. Why do you think this much-maligned console has had a second lease of life?
I’m not really sure why there’s a hardcore of love for the Jaguar, but maybe it’s because of the failure of the console initially and wanting to share the joy and frustrations of the console with like-minded folk. I know I personally have met and made great friends with shows like E-Jagfest in Germany and Jagfest UK when that was running over here. Also owning one of the fabled Jaguar VR units for four years was always a great talking point at those and many other shows I attended with it. Another obvious reason for the current uptick in interest has to be the myth busting that the console is difficult to develop for. With things like Raptor around to make development easy for anyone and the current trend for ST ports the future looks bright.
Are you currently hoping to publish any other gaming titles, either for the Jaguar or any other consoles?
We are hoping to produce another run of Alice carts for those that missed out on the original run. We hope to have another re-issue to follow that with a proper box for the first time, and a very special cart release some point next year, if we can pull it off! In the meantime we are busy working on box sets for the ST port carts that are available for sale at atariage.com. Box designs are done and now that my holidays are done for the year I can finish off the outstanding manuals and get them printed.
If you could go for a drink with any video game character, who would you choose and why?
That’s a difficult one! On reflection it would have to be Pac-man to ask him if he was drunk during his 2600 outing!
We think he might have been… Thanks for the insight Gary and coming to see us at AA. We look forward to see what you come up with next!