Though the Sharp X68000 is rightly known for its exceptional arcade ports, the cult Japanese computer also had its fair share of homegrown exclusives that made the system sing. Perhaps most important among these was the work of Exact (Excellent Application Create Team), who lovingly produced four exceptional action games for the system between 1990 and 1994.
All four of those games have now been re-released for the first time in the Exact Perfect Collection for the X68000 Z mini console, offering a fresh opportunity to discover the flawless work of this short-lived studio. Three of the four games in the collection appear in Time Extension’s X68000 Top 20, so you know you’re in for a good time.
First up is Exact’s 1990 debut, Naious, a horizontal shoot-‘em-up that would feel right at home on Mega Drive. It’s nothing particularly innovative, but it is fast, fun and challenging. If you like Konami shooters, especially Salamander, Thunder Cross or the MSX-exclusive Space Manbow, then you’ll enjoy this one.
From here, the titles in the collection gradually increase in inventiveness and originality, starting with Aquales (1991), a mech action-platformer that can only be described as a cross between Assault Suits Valken and Umihara Kawase. Yes, you pilot a giant robot armed with a grapple arm that can extend out and latch on to ledges to pull its hulking frame up to the next platform or swing around. It’s a fantastic little mechanic that adds a unique twist to the mech action genre.
Next up is Étoile Princesse (1993). If you’re a fan of Falcom’s Ys series or Microcabin’s Fray, then you’ll love this top-down action adventure starring brightly-haired magical girls. The visuals are bold and colourful, the shooting action is great fun, and the boss battles are epic. It’s hard to pick the best game in this collection because they’re all so good, but Étoile Princesse would be our pick due to its charm, depth and instant likeability.
Finally, you have the technical marvel Geograph Seal (1994), a full 3D polygonal FPS with Star Fox-like visuals. It’s incredible to see the X68000 pull off a game as impressive as this, and even more unbelievable when you play it and realise how smooth and responsive it is. The fact it’s still highly playable today, and isn’t just impressive “for its time” is testament to the fine work Exact put into its X68000 swansong.
After moving on from the X68000, Exact took the Geograph Seal engine and expanded on it to create their most famous game, the early PlayStation hit Jumping Flash. A sequel followed, as did a surprisingly good Ghost in the Shell game, and then Exact was absorbed into Sony’s Japan Studio, never to be seen again. But their legacy lives on in this collection: a wonderful assortment of X68000 games, all linked by a commitment to bold visuals and satisfying arcade-style action.
If you’re lucky enough to own an X68000 Z and want to avoid the hassle of emulating the games yourself, this collection of hidden gems should be considered essential – and perhaps even close to perfect.