The X68000 heart burns anew with Xeno Crisis

Diehard Mega Drive fans are teaming up with an industry veteran to bring nouveau-retro arena-shooting action back to the Sega Mega Drive.

Those of us who grew up under the shadow of Sega were quick to internalize a few essential mantras about video games: some ("Mortal Kombat is way cooler than Street Fighter!") remain incontrovertible truths, while others ("arcade games are always better on Sega!") were a little easier to dismantle. One of the more obvious exceptions to the rule: Super Smash TV, the home versions of Williams' classic twin-stick shooter, acquitted itself admirably on the SNES and less so on the Mega Drive, and the less said about the Master System port, the better. 

The circa-1993 console warrior within me is extremely grateful, then, for the folks at UK studio Bitmap Bureau who have announced Xeno Crisis, an overhead run-and-gun shooter for the ol' Mega Drive that borrows more than a few ideas from Smash TV and several other top-down blasters (Shock Troopers! Granada! Mercs!) and is fully optimized for play on the standard three-button controller; it's not an exact substitute for Smash TV, nor does it pretend to be — the developers are touting conspicously modern design touches like randomized room placement and procedural enemy spawns, and the pixel-horror aesthetic is clearly played much straighter than Smash TV's Running Man pastiche — but it seems poised to bring justice to Mega Drive owners looking for a new hit of arcade-style overhead action. 

A preview of a very Contra-esque environmental tileset. Yep, that's a Nieborg joint.
A preview of a very Contra-esque environmental tileset. Yep, that's a Nieborg joint.

In order to bring Xeno Crisis to fruition, Bitmap Bureau has enlisted the help of several collaborators, including a long-time artist whose work, if not his name, will be immediately recognizable to many of you: Henk Nieborg, the acclaimed pixel artist whose distinctive, deceptively high-detail style defined the look of recent-ish games like Contra 4 and the Shantae series to older titles like The Adventures of Lomax the Lemming (PSX), Lionheart (Amiga) and the Mega Drive's own (Mis)adventures of Flink; he's responsible for almost every graphic shown in today's video reveal and he clearly hasn't lost a step. As for the game's audio, it's been placed in the capable hands of Savaged Regime, a hobbyist composer and arranger with a reputation for pushing the Mega Drive's audio hardware to its limits.

The Xeno Crisis developers are currently running a crowdfunding drive via Kickstarter to ensure the game can be made and manufactured in time for the Mega Drive's 30th anniversary in October of next year; get-the-game reward tiers start at £15 (~$20USD) for a downloadable ROM copy to £55 (~$75USD) for a complete boxed cartridge. and in a little under 24 hours they've already raised 80% of their £20,000 funding goal, so barring any unforeseeable circumstances (like poor project management, but when has that ever affected a Kickstarter project?), we'll all have a new game to slam into the Genny next Halloween. Ain't that somethin'?