Xardion (SNES) Review

Click here to visit the Xardion (SNES) description page for walkthroughs, saves, and more information.

Quick Review 

~Review by tankMage (January 2020)

Score: C

Here’s a short breakdown of Xardion’s strengths and weaknesses, scroll down if you wish to read the full review.

Pros

-Four playable robots, each with its own unique abilities.

-Various areas to explore and secrets to find.

-One of the few Action RPGs made for the SNES.

-Levels have interesting themes and concepts.

-Original story with a twist.

-Autosaving.

Cons

-Controls are stiff.

-The game is short and uses backtracking/grinding to pad its total playtime.

-Menu is set up poorly.

-Crap bosses.

-Text is difficult to read.

-The graphics and music are not very good.

Full Review

Rough, messy, and somehow worth playing.

   Ever play a game that’s not very good, but you liked it anyway? That’s the case with me and Xardion. The controls were stiff, the boss fights were dull, and the music sucked. But I stuck with it and, very slowly, the game started to make sense. By the end I was quite pleased with Xardion, even with all of its imperfections. There’s a spark of magic in this game and I think it could have been something great had some polish been applied to it.

Are you not entertained?

    Xardion begins with an opening scroll that tells the tale of a star system under siege from a mysterious world light years away. After that, the player is introduced to the three mechs he will control throughout much of the game: Triton, Alcedes, and Pantera. These mechs can gain levels that increase their health and ammo as well as learn number of special abilities. They are also distinct from one another both visually and in terms of gameplay. Triton can shoot in several directions and obtains abilities that allow him to fire bouncing lasers or create a protective shield around himself. Alcedes’ standard attack can only hit enemies in front of him, but he can destroy everything on the screen with his special ability. Pantera is shorter than the others and can squeeze into small areas as well as hit low slung enemies. There is also an ultimate mech that the player gets near the end of the game, but I’ll leave that as a surprise.

    The story unfolds slowly as the players explore the game and is told through the eyes of the three mech pilots. Much of the text simply describes the planet the player is currently on or relates to the current mission, though it does add flavor to the game. The story has a few twists and turns as things heat up near the end, but I won’t spoil the surprises. I will say that the developers made some fairly bold decisions concerning the plot that really pay off in the end.

Mega Man X may have borrowed a few ideas from this game, just sayin’.

    Xardion’s biggest flaw is its presentation, which is sloppy and not quite up to SNES standards. To be fair, the SNES had only been out for about two years in Japan and less than a year in North America, so Xardion is something of an early title. Even so, the devs could have made some better design choices. Dialogue text has an ugly red backdrop and tends to blend into the background. Most of the stages are very drab looking and the same explosion effects are constantly recycled. Finally, the game experience is further hampered by stiff controls and a menu screen that is very difficult to navigate at first. 

    To Xardion’s credit, every stage has its own creative gimmick. Players will visit a jungle hidden deep within a planet, an abandoned spaceship, and even a world that’s actually a gigantic organism. While the stage layouts are not terribly exciting, they are fun enough to run through and their imaginative themes give them enough atmosphere to make them interesting enough to keep the player engaged. It also helped that all of the enemies that appear in each stage are unique to that stage, so there is no sprite recycling. However, the devs could have hid some of the powerups better, since many of the mech’s abilities are just found sitting out in the open. The boss fights could have used some work as well, because they are basically damage races that lack any sense of strategy. Oh, and much of the music sucks.

    Xardion’s experience system and character progression system is a mess, though it still manages to add depth to the game. All of the mech’s start out very weak and most players will probably die a few times on the first bosses. Upon dying, players are sent back to the start of the stage, with full health and everything they had before they died, which isn’t much of a punishment, though it does make the game feel like a grind, since you’ll have to go back through the level. Replaying a failed stage will usually allow you to level up and fight the boss with a stronger mech. Still, it’s fun watching your mech get more powerful and the various special weapons they obtain from exploring stages are cool, though some of them are way overpowered. This is especially true for Pantera’s INV-Shield that allows her to walk through stages without taking damage.

Final Thoughts

    Xardion has a lot of issues and I had a lot of bad things to say about it, but it’s still kind of cool. There’s a certain magic to this game that I can’t quite put my finger on and I’m not going to forget it any time soon. Maybe it was the setting and the story or the strange things I encountered in the stages, but the whole of this game is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve seen rumors that some of the people involved in the anime, Evangelion worked on Xardion. While this may not be true, maybe it’s their brilliance that shines through it. That said, I couldn’t give it a great score, because it’s such a mess. 

Recommendations

Xardion may be sloppy, but it’s fun and people who enjoy stuff like Castlevania II and Faxanadu should give it a chance.

This Xardion review is property of RetroMaggedon.com, ©2020

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