Hands On: Xeno Crisis On SNES Really Is A Dream Come True 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

When UK studio Bitmap Bureau began its noble quest to get Xeno Crisis on every system imaginable – including Neo Geo, Dreamcast, GameCube and N64 – it became something of a running joke that the SNES, one of the most popular classic consoles of all time, never seemed to get any love.

That has finally changed this year, and we're pleased to report that the SNES version of Xeno Crisis is just as brilliant as the others – perhaps a little more so, given how well-suited the console's controller is for twin-stick shooters.

In fact, if you'll allow us to get a little nostalgic for a moment, it reminds us of the day we first played Super Smash TV on the SNES and realised that the iconic diamond-shaped, four-button cluster was the perfect substitute for a second stick – effortlessly mimicking the setup Smash TV possessed in its arcade guise.

Even in its 'original' version on the Mega Drive, Xeno Crisis can't offer as elegant an interface out of the box; you need to invest in the six-button pad to get the full experience. On the SNES version, everything just clicks the moment you boot up the system; you could even go as far as to argue that this is the 'ultimate' version of the game to be released on vintage hardware.

There are other tangible advantages of playing Xeno Crisis on Nintendo's 16-bit hardware; the intro has crystal-clear narration, and some explosions use the console's transparency abilities to good effect. At the core, though, it's the same fantastic run-and-gun action we've come to expect from this game, which – amazingly – turns five this October.

Bitmap Bureau was kind enough to send us all three regional variants of the game, along with some extra goodies, such as posters, postcards and – best of all – Savaged Regime's amazing soundtrack on a cassette tape (for the ultimate '90s vibe). These bonus items ship with the Collector's Edition of the game.

Given our love of everything Japanese here at Time Extension, we were especially taken with the Super Famicom version, which features an alternative piece of cover artwork. It's worth noting that although all three regions are catered for, the actual ROM on the cart is multi-region, so if you have a European SNES, you can use the Super Famicom cart without issue (the North America cart is, of course, a different shape and won't work on Japanese / European consoles without a suitable converter).

Does any game need as many versions as this? That's perhaps up for debate, but we have no issue whatsoever in being given the excuse to play one of the best "faux retro" hits of the past decade all over again.

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