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CONSOLE: Famicom DEVELOPER: Micronics PUBLISHER: Tokuma Shoten
RELEASE DATE (JP): December 21, 1985 GENRE: Shmup
// review by SoyBomb

I don't even know what the title means.

Time to grab your Famicom, blow the dust off, and... huh? You don't own a Famicom? Well, that's too bad because you're missing out on a wide variety of games sold only in the Land of the Rising Sun. But this lack of a sweet red box may also be a blessing in disguise because you get to miss out on certain less-than-reputable games, one of which is "Exed Exes", formerly an arcade game by Capcom but later ported to the Famicom as one of their earlier titles. Before I even get into really reviewing this particular piece of "software", I have to ask one question: what in the HELL are Exed Exes? If the game was called "Exed Eyes" (which I repeatedly typed on several occasions during the development of this review), that would have made slightly more sense. You draw an X over the eyes of dead characters in cartoons and such, so it could...uh...represent the death strike you lay upon each of your enemies as you blast them away. Okay, I'm grasping at straws here, but I must face the fact that the game is called "Exed Exes".

...Seriously, Exed Exes? What the?!

Okay, so here's the freaky weird deal. An alien race resembling insects have decided to cause severe havoc to the inhabitants of the planet NEG-NIN. Acting at the behest of the populace, Colonel Issue and Sargeant Issue hop into their battle ships in preparation for the tough struggles ahead. Oh, hey, and the insect species has a secret weapon in the works... called the ""EXED-EXES"! So THAT'S where the stupid name came from! Awesome. Well, that about covers the storyline -- which is fine, because once you start actually PLAYING this game, you won't really give a damn. You'll be too confused by what's happening on-screen to care about Colonel Issue.

I don't review shmups very often, but when I do get around to playing them, I expect a little variety, a little pizazz, a little... glimmer of anything even remotely interesting. Look at the great space shooters of the past. Gradius! Ikaruga! R-Type! These are the games that made the genre totally hip. Heck, even the NES with its lowly 1980s processor had some killer apps, such as Gun-Nac and Parodius Da!, proving that you can get some great results from the gray box of lore.

Mind-blowing awesomeness!

But Exed Exes... oh dear... although I may give the game a little grace for being an early title, but it's not completely excused for being a boring toilet floater. Unlike other shmups, I really could not actively differentiate between one stage and another, other than perhaps by the boss at the end. Every stage mixes up forest foliage and/or desert craters with weird honeycombed surfaces. And that's it, stage after stage after freakin' stage. You forget how far you actually are until you're told when the next level begins because of how bland everything is. Enemies may get slightly rougher, but that's about it. Maybe you'll get lucky and enter a "HI-POINT AREA" where you can shoot down skullheads for additional points, or somehow use a power item and transform them into fruit. What the hell?! Either way, your primary objective is just make your way through waves of pissed-off bugs and stationary turrets, you get to a boss battle where your goal isn't really to destroy the mothership itself, but just the turrets and weird skull heads on top of it. Once those are obliterated, the huge ship is destroyed. One thing I noticed was that if I didn't defeat it by a certain point, it would fly away and I'd have to repeat the stage! What a pissy way to design a game. Just let me shoot the living daylights out of a boss and be done with it. Was this implemented to prolong gameplay? I doubt it, considering the game NEVER ENDS.

That's right, it goes on infinitely. I would expect that of an old arcade game where the purpose is to rack up as many points as possible, such as in Donkey Kong or Pac-Man. But this is a shooter with very specific levels (16 in all, if you can pay close attention) with an equally specific goal: to destroy the EXED-EXES superweapons and save the inhabitants of NEG-NIN (not that you really care). So if you can never really FINISH the game, is it not reasonable to declare the storyline moot? Why bother to care about saving people you can never actually save? Unless you provide salvation only by scoring points, then the hell with it. Play something else.

Heck, even the music is terrible. It's just a bunch of bleeps in a repetitive sequence. You'll be turning down your volume in hopes that you can give your ears a treat, like cranking up the "Best of Jackhammer Noise Collection" on your iPod or sitting next to Mike Tyson when he's got a hankerin' for raw ear meat. At least the controls don't stink. Then again, how hard is it to screw up controls on a shooter? My guess is "not very." As long as I can fly around and shoot forward, I think I can get along just fine.

If I can give any praise to this game, it's that they did a better job at programming a shmup than I ever could. At least not yet... So don't play this lousy game. Just don't. No, seriously, DON'T DO IT!

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