Xeno Crisis: a new game for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive
Xeno Crisis is a new, original title for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis and Dreamcast which will be released both as a physical cartridge and also as a downloadable ROM. At its core, it's an arena shooter for up to 2 players that takes inspiration from the likes of Smash TV, Contra, Mercs, Granada, Alien Syndrome, Zombies Ate My Neighbours, Chaos Engine, and Shock Troopers.
We want the game to look, feel and sound like the classic Mega Drive games of the '80s and '90s, but also add some new elements that weren't so common in games of that era, particularly procedural map generation and randomisation of gameplay elements. Achieving that classic look and feel is vitally important to us, which is why we've teamed up with legendary pixel artist Henk Nieborg, who previously worked on the Mega Drive title "The Misadventures Of Flink", developed by Psygnosis.
We're also working with "Savaged Regime"; a highly renowned chip-tune artist that knows how to push the Mega Drive's YM2612 chip to the limit - you can hear a sample of the Xeno Crisis soundtrack in the Kickstarter video above.
The game is currently at the prototype stage and we will be releasing the finished product in October 2018 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Mega Drive's launch in Japan. We're launching this Kickstarter campaign to fund the remainder of the title's development.
The focus of Xeno Crisis' gameplay is the intense combat which pits you (and optionally another player) against thousands of alien enemies - players take control of a male or female marine capable of moving and shooting in 8 directions, and they can also perform an evasive roll to get out of tricky situations. If things get really desperate then a grenade can be deployed, destroy anything nearby, giving the player a brief moment of respite.
Players have several weapons at their disposal, but ammo is limited so players must constantly be on the move, grabbing new weapons and extra ammo as they go. When a room has been cleared of all hostiles the player(s) can choose which exit to take, with the aim being to rescue any of the colony's inhabitants who might still be alive, and then progress to the area's boss. There are 6 areas in total, each with their own enemies, hazards, secrets and gameplay nuances.
Every few enemies killed will result in a set of dog-tags being dropped - these can be collected and exchanged for upgrades between areas.
Should the player run out of health they will be taken to the 'Continue' screen, where they can decide to continue the fight or start over - the player begins the game with 3 continues but more can be acquired between areas. If a player runs out of health in 2-player mode, that player will remain down until the end of the room, at which point they’ll be revived automatically.
The arena shooter has seen something of a resurgence in recent years in the form of Geometry Wars, Enter The Gungeon, Nuclear Assault and The Binding Of Isaac, but the genre was defined back in the early 1980s through games such as Berzerk and Robotron: 2084. Xeno Crisis certainly takes inspiration from these great titles, and particularly Robotron's spiritual successor, Smash TV, utilising a similar game flow.
We've expanded upon this popular and successful formula though by adding new elements which are better suited to console titles, such as the ability to backtrack, a keycard system, an equipment screen, procedural map generation and randomisation of enemies and pickups.
A breakdown of Xeno Crisis' key features:
- Intense arena-based combat where the player must constantly be on their toes, prioritising which enemies to engage next, and ensuring they don't run out of ammo.
- Procedurally generated maps and rooms, so you never know what's coming up, and you have to adapt your tactics on a room-by-room basis.
- Optional 2-player co-operative play, so you can take the fight to the enemy with a friend - just make sure you share the ammo!
- 6 diverse areas to explore, each with their own obstacles and hazards, and secrets, including The Outpost and The Nest:
- Upgrade system which allows you to adapt the game to your style of play - are you a cautious player or more gung-ho?
- An arsenal of 9 different weapons to switch things up and turn the tables in your favour.
- 6 intimidating bosses, each of which will demand you to learn a different strategy to defeat them.
- Two modes of play; once you've completed the Arcade mode you can try your hand at the Infinite mode, where even veteran players will find a challenge.
- Two difficulty levels; "Rookie" and "Hardcorps". Playing on Rookiewill mean easier progress,but you won't be able to see the "good" ending!
As you progress through the colony you will come across many different enemies, each with their own traits and means of attack. Many of them can be gunned down without too much thought, but others will require the player to outflank them, attack them within a certain time window, or be avoided altogether! Here are the first few enemies you'll encounter:
There are several weapons at your disposal, each with their own characteristics. Although your standard issue pulse rifle is perfectly capable of taking on the enemy, other weapons can give you advantages in certain situations, so picking them up is generally advisable - just don't run out of ammo!
At the end of each area you will be given the chance to exchange any dog-tags you've collected for upgrades ranging from extra health to weapon power-ups to extra continues. Which upgrades you go for will depend on your style of play.
Bitmap Bureau was formed early in 2016 with the intention of creating innovative and polished 2D games for desktops and consoles. Previously our core team have been part of the award winning mobile studio, IOMO, and also the prominent Flash / desktop game development team, Megadev. Our industry experience dates back to 1995 and we've worked with publishers such as Namco, Adult Swim, Disney and Eidos on over 100 successfully completed projects.
We've always been huge fans of the Sega Mega Drive though, and we felt the time was right to develop our first full game for the legendary 16-bit system. Although Xeno Crisis will be our first commercial release for the Mega Drive, we've had experience developing for the system at the 2016 Global Game Jam - we were given just 48 hours to develop a game but it was more like 24 in the end!
We were still able to put together a fun little shooter titled "Fatal Smarties", and it was a great exercise in getting to grips with the hardware - we're confident that without the constraints of a gamejam we'll be able to produce a much better product.
Regarding the development status of Xeno Crisis, many of the trickier features have already been implemented, including procedural map generation...
...and procedural room generation:
Most of the remaining work is implementing new enemies and level features, which we are confident won't cause any major problems.
We're also looking to integrate a range of complex effects and clever technical tricks on the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis. For example, we've created a custom tool chain for animated intros (on the same principles as used by Sonic 3D as described by GameHut).
We have collated many of the most commonly used Mega Drive variants from each territory, including the Mega Drive/Genesis 1, 2 and 3, as well as the "Nomad" - the portable Mega Drive, and the RetroN 5. These will be used to test the game at regular intervals to ensure that the game works and plays well no matter whether it's being played on PAL or NTSC hardware.
We also have some of the best CRT displays you can find including the NEC XP29 Plus, the SONY BVM 2010p and the Sony PVM 20L4, as we want to play and test Xeno Crisis on the most authentic hardware available - it's all about them scanlines!
There's also the controllers - we'll be designing and testing the game with the standard 3 button pad, the 6 button pad, as well as the Arcade Stick I and II.
* Dreamcast CD add-on is only available for £20 to physical release Mega Drive backers. For all other backers it is £30.
Kickstarter Edition Mega Drive backers will also receive the Dreamcast Kickstarter Edition CD instead of the normal version if they add-on the Dreamcast CD to their pledge.
(Please note add-ons do not incur any additional shipping charges).
We've come up with several rewards for all budgets - take a look!
Xeno Crisis ROM
Xeno Crisis cartridge
Xeno Crisis (boxed with manual)
Xeno Crisis Collector's Edition
Xeno Crisis dog-tags
Xeno Crisis Official Soundtrack
Xeno Crisis Dreamcast
Receive a version of Xeno Crisis for Sega Dreamcast on a high quality pressed CD presented in an NTSC-J style jewel case. Multi-region and playable on all CD-compatible Dreamcast consoles.
Xeno Crisis Nintendo Switch and Steam PC/Mac/Linux
Receive a digital copy of the game when it's released! Choose between a Nintendo Switch or Steam PC/Mac/Linux version.
We’ll also be looking to create a blue male marine variation and a green female marine; so you will be able to play the game with any combination of male/female players if you wish.
We’d always hoped that we would be able to bring Xeno Crisis to Dreamcast, and that will become possible if we hit this funding goal. The controls will be carefully tweaked to work perfectly with the standard Dreamcast controller, as well as the Arcade Stick.
Third stretch goal achieved! We’re adding a whole new 6th area to the game with its own unique tileset. Including a new boss to go with the area and the extra cutscenes to integrate the area within the game and story.
We also really want to create an authentic experience, so with this stretch goal we will be producing Japanese translated box art / manuals, as the Japanese releases were always distinctively different, and it’s important to us that we do it justice.
We will also be translating the in-game text and assets to the following languages:
English / French / Italian / German / Spanish / Portuguese (+ Brazilian) / Dutch / Japanese
Fourth stretch goal achieved! We’ll now be Blast Processing and pushing the Mega Drive to its limits with a whole range of features and additions to the game including:
- Bonus stage
- Boss rush mode
- Extra enemies
- Speed run seeds
We’ve added a new £10 pledge for those of you who just want the Nintendo Switch or Steam PC/Mac/Linux version, but backers of any Xeno Crisis pledge will be able to add-on £10 to their pledge to receive the Nintendo Switch or Steam PC/Mac/Linux version (you will be able to choose which version you want in a survey after the campaign).
If you want to keep up to date with the development of Xeno Crisis or just see what we're up to in general, then here are the obligatory social media links!
Risks and challenges
Creating a Mega Drive game is no mean feat, and we're fully aware that it will be a challenge, particularly on the technical side. However, we are extremely confident that we can complete the project on time and on budget - the game is already in a playable state on the actual Mega Drive hardware, with most of the more complex tasks such as collision detection, procedural map generation and memory management already taken care of.
We also have an excellent track record in completing game development projects across multiple platforms dating back over 15 years. The biggest risk we see is the manufacturing schedule for the cartridges, but we will be ensuring development is complete with enough buffer for any last minute technical challenges and/or manufacturing delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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