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Video Game / Xeno Fighters

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Not pictured: all the Guest Fighter ships.
Xeno Fighters is a freeware Shoot 'Em Up Fan Game developed by Team XF. Its game mechanics draw from Raiden Fighters primarily. Being a fan game, it contains many references to other games in the genre, both well-known and obscure.

The game has seen several names over its development history:

  • V.A.F. Squadron: The first playable version developed in Multimedia Fusion 1.2 and released in the year 2000.
  • Xeno Fighters EX: A retooled version of V.A.F. Squadron released in 2003.
  • Xeno Fighters R: Began as a remake of EX in 2008 in Game Maker 7, then became its own iteration with the addition of extra stages along with a much improved game engine and mechanics, and more consistent game art. Ported over to Game Maker Studio 1.4 in 2019 and ported once again to Game Maker Studio 2 in September 2022.

The game is hosted on here.

Not to be confused with the Xeno Z-Fighters, the alternate timeline versions of Dragon Ball characters from the Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Dragon Ball Heroes video game series.

Xeno Fighters contains the following tropes:

  • Acid-Trip Dimension: Stage EX-4 is in an exceedingly bizarre dimension that constantly shifts between Vaporwave backdrops and the inside of a computer.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Part of Stage 7 in Xeno Fighters EX. A similar situation appears in the middle of the remake's Stage 6-B, although that place happens to be inside an alternate dimension.
  • Battleship Raid: Dreadnought Echidna, the boss of Stage F-B. Vahrstor appears as a boss in Stage EX-5 (Lair of the Leviathan), complete with a recreation of its raid sequence from its source game.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Xeno Fighters EX ends this way, except there is no true final stage like in Xeno Fighters R.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The EX Stages, reached through finding all the Miclus in certain levels and getting the EX Medal from the last one you destroy. If you want to go directly to the BRES Colony, you'll need to complete the sixth EX stage.
  • Boss Rush: As of Xeno Fighters R version 0.325, this was added as a playable but work-in-progress mode.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Ultima-X in Xeno Fighters EX. Its default shot can rip through most regular enemies before they get anywhere close to the player, its bomb turns its shot into a bullet-destroying, boss-killing monstrosity that lasts for practically an entire level and it turns even the likes of Expert Mode into an utter joke. By the time you unlock the means to play as it, you've likely seen everything else the game has to offer and may even know the game like the back of your hand.
  • The Cameo: Many bosses come from other games. The EX stage bosses have no connection to the plot except for Black Heart.
    • In Stage EX-3 (Parobee Fusion), the stage boss Ziyudee's battleground takes place in Club Titiboo with members of the DCMC making a background cameo appearance.
  • Decomposite Character: In the 2019 revival, two guest fighters with alternate skins have been split into four separate fighters:
    • The Hoplon (from the 1980 arcade game Phoenix) has been split from the Gyaraga. The former loses the Double Fighter mode and gains normal Slaves skinned to look like pixelated birds. The latter gains a new bomber attack that transforms it into the Triple Fighter from Galaga '88, making it invincible for a short period.
    • Kevin Walker has been split off from Michelle Heart. Kevin gains a weapons loadout based on the NES Legendary Wings weapons and an invincibility transformation bomber similar to that of Gyaraga. Michelle's weapons are based on the arcade version of her source game.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The longer you go without dying, the more difficult the game gets.
  • The Empire: The Keto. Actually, the Keto warring with Earth are a bunch of war criminals and their armies exiled from the Keto homeworld after their failed attempt to turn it into The Empire. BRES is part of their plot to turn Earth into a colony ahead of schedule; the human members of BRES get to be the Persia-style satraps of Earth.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In Xeno Fighters EX, if you're playing on easy mode, you're not going any further than stage 4, even if you win. You need to be playing on normal or higher to see the rest of the game.
  • Energy Weapon: Amada Vipros's Serpent Seeker subweapon, Zaiva's Fragarach's Gale, the Pollux's (AKA Gemini Red) Cyclopean Laser, and the Raiden mk-II's Plasma Lock-On Beam.
  • Escort Mission: 5-B requires you to keep the F-117 Nighthawks assisting you from getting torn to shreds by the BRES navy, if you want to go on to 6-B. As of the current version of Xeno Fighters R, they haven't been implemented yet.
  • Face–Heel Turn: A war hero of the first war with the Keto assists BRES because he feels that Earth has descended into decay.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Judge Spear, true to its source material, is the fastest ship in the entire game, but also has one of the lowest weapon spreads as well.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Black Reach Eternal Stratocracy. Derived from Bres, a major leader of the Fomorians in Irish myth.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Using a continue on Balor's final form can sometimes render the boss invincible with its health bar empty prematurely, making the battle Unintentionally Unwinnable.
  • Guest Fighter: There are 19 guest fighters from other games such as Raiden, Viper Phase 1, and Strikers 1945. The guest fighters do not have any connection with the game's story.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some Miclus locations and some of the stage branching objectives.
  • Heel–Face Turn: One of the offspring of the original war criminals ultimately becomes disillusioned with BRES and leads a small contingent in defecting.
  • Humongous Mecha: The boss of Stage 6-B, Dullahan, a semi-autonomous unit that can perform dimensional jumps completely on its own.
  • I Shall Taunt You: The Stage EX-4 boss, BonziBUDDY, starts off his battle by spouting a unique verbal taunt tailored to each playable ship.
  • Joke Character: The Galaga ship. Becomes a subversion when fully powered up.
  • Leitmotif: A number of the guest fighters have their own stage clear music, primarily from their source games. Some of them go so far as to have their own theme during the final half of Stage F-C.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The 194x series P-38, and the Gyagara from Galaga.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The second section of Stage 4-B, underneath 2035 Iceland.
  • Limit Break: The Xeno Overdrive, an SP Abilitynote  that the original four ships have as of v0.300. It allows the fighters to release overpowered versions of each of their Missile and Laser weapons for a period of time, ending with a cooldown between each use.
  • Magikarp Power: The Gyaraga is this trope. It starts out with only a single blaster as armament. Getting it powered up enough gives it powerful bug missiles with large spreads, as well as quad-firing blasters with high damage output. If mastered, the Gyaraga is a juggernaut that eats even the toughest enemies and bosses for breakfast.
  • Marathon Level: The true final stage, Stage F-C (BRES Colony) lasts over seven minutes from start to boss appearance (which has a multiple-phase battle, to boot). Compare this to other stages that are about two minutes to four minutes long. Stage EX-4 ('98 D R E A M S) lasts about six minutes and thirty seconds from start to endboss appearance.
    • Xeno Fighters EX's levels could be quite long too. Stage 4 (2035 Iceland) was about the same length as the BRES Colony until the remake's version came along.
  • Multiple Endings: Four of them in Xeno Fighters R.
    • The worst possible ending: BRES pulls off an emergency activation of every fault line and supervolcano on the planet to protect their past campaign fronts. ATHENA is decimated and 99% of the planet's population is wiped out, and while there still remains survivors in ATHENA, it's clear they're Living on Borrowed Time. Though they successfully destroy BRES' recon ship, it's for naught, as Dullahan and Bronze Harpy soon manage to find them and wipe out the remaining survivors, but not before they manage to send out a time capsule in the hopes that the next timeline will learn from the failures of this one.
    • The normal ending: Dreadnough Echidna escapes after it distracts you with Gettok. You return to Earth to regroup, but you and ATHENA are aware that as long as Dreadnought Echidna is out there somewhere, there is a threat always present. Both Earth's present and past were ravaged by the Keto offensive, and the chances that ATHENA can repel a Dreadnough Echidna-led campaign is uncertain.
    • The good ending, which also serves as the ending for Xeno Fighters EX: Dreadnought Echidna has been completely obliterated, all of BRES' temporal warps to the past have been closed off, and much of their fighting force has been pushed back. However, Dreadnought Echidna's desperate suicide blitz towards Earth cut off ATHENA's advance to the BRES Colony, leaving it completely untouched. With their main base still fully operational, BRES can launch another attack in the future. However, with the loss of their flagship, any future BRES attack will be something ATHENA and the Xeno Fighters can resist.
    • The best ending: The BRES Colony has been hopelessly crippled, their army utterly routed and their campaign stopped in its tracks, ending their threat to Earth and its history for good. Humanity comes into contact with the Keto homeworld, which is all too happy to put an end to the war and broker peace between the two races.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Several of the fighters from other shoot-em-up video games are unnamed in their source game, but received a name in Xeno Fighters R:
    • The two ships from the 1987 Tecmo arcade shoot-em-up Gemini Wing were named Gemini Blue/Castor and Gemini Red/Pollux. The names "Castor" and "Pollux" are the individual names of the Gemini twins from Roman and Greek mythology, who lent their names to the two brightest stars in the Gemini constellation. Also doubles as Theme Naming.
    • The ship from the 1980 arcade game Phoenix was named "Hoplon". The name is of the equipment of the hoplite, the best-known of which includes a large shield (and a reference to the Phoenix ship's barrier ability that is also present in Xeno Fighters R).
    • The ship in Xeno Fighters R's 1998 early prototype Kamikaze received the name "Divine Gale" when it was added to the roster as a secret fighter. "Divine Gale" is a fancy translation of 神風(kamikaze, "divine wind" or "god wind").
  • Nintendo Hard: Being a game inspired by Raiden Fighters, even the easier difficulties can be overwhelming to newbies.
  • Perpetual Beta: Due to shifting developers and development environments, the Xeno Fighters R iteration is nowhere near finished to this day.
  • Puzzle Boss: 5-B boss Citadel Geryon. The only way to hurt it is to get the support aircraft to crash into it.
  • Recursive Reality: Somewhat downplayed; at some point during Stage EX-4, one of the computer files seen is labelled as "Xeno Fighters EX". This implies that the player is going through the computer of the game's creator.
  • The Bus Came Back: After having been removed from earlier versions due to balance reasonsnote , TwinBee makes a return as a playable fighter as of Xeno Fighters R version 0.325.
  • Theme Naming: Most bosses have a name consisting of (metal/gemstone) (Greek or Celtic mythical creature). Silver Banshee, Jasper Gigas, Jade Hydra, Obsidian Peryton, etc.
    • Zaiva has a similar theme in its weapons, taken from legendary weapons from Irish myth—Fragarach, Brionac, and Caladbolg. Its Xeno Overdrives are named after the wielders of the named weapons: Nauda's Retaliation for the Fragarach and Lugh's Torrent for the Brionac.
    • The Phyxius' weapons are named after various references to Hell.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Stage F-C is accessible only by completing all the objectives in the B-stage path, or directly from Stage EX-6.
  • Timed Mission: In Xeno Fighters EX, fourth stage boss Orion XD-6, a massive bomb complex found deep underground in 2035 Iceland, has to be destroyed within two minutes and thirty seconds, or else Earth is destroyed, prematurely ending your run and handing you a Non Standard Game Over.
    • The same deal with the remake's new version of 2035 Iceland. The bomb complex has become a three stage rocket, called the Orion Arrow, and must be crippled before it arms the geological destabilizer. You will gain more time for destroying each part, to simulate the mechanism being crippled. Unlike Xeno Fighters EX, if it succeeds in triggering its payload, you'll be sent to Stage 5-C.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Even the Keto renegades' own motive for taking over Earth is about this. An extra several decades are just what they need to build an armada to conquer their just-now-war-ravaged homeworld. Please note that they were the reason it's war-ravaged in the first place.
  • True Final Boss: Balor, the control center of the BRES colony.
  • Unobtanium: Tritium plasma. It is the radioactive substance found in the nebula near the BRES Colony that makes rift technology possible. It is what makes travel to the EX stages possible, with ATHENA figuring out the true nature of tritium plasma during the events of Stage EX-4. Vahrstor uses tritium plasma to give it the power to make such a massive machine as itself be airborne.
  • Wackyland: Stage EX-4 is weird even by bonus stage standards. It's not based on any specific shooters, so instead it appears to take place inside a computer's cyberspace, with every program and related paraphernalia trying to kill you.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Vic Viper's smart bomb attack is this. While it slows the Vic Viper down considerably, it does a lot of damage to anything.