Xeno Crisis: a new game for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, Dreamcast, Nintendo Switch and Steam

Created by Bitmap Bureau

Xeno Crisis is a new game for the Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, Nintendo Switch and Steam. It's a top-down arena shooter for up to 2 players that is best described as Smash TV meets Aliens! Run and gun your way through thousands of enemies spread over 6 areas as you attempt to discover the cause of the alien menace.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Belated update (May 2020)
13 days ago – Wed, May 20, 2020 at 06:39:32 AM

Hey everyone, we hope you’re all doing ok in these difficult times, and that your health and livelihoods haven’t been affected significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re fortunate enough to be part of an industry that hasn’t taken too much of an impact, as people will always want something to entertain themselves whilst in lockdown. We have however had to spend some time restructuring the way we do things, relocating much of our setups to our respective homes so that we’ve been able to continue work on Xeno Crisis, but aside from that it’s business as usual for us!

Dreamcast version has gone gold!

We’re sorry that this update has been delayed several times, but these updates often take a few days to put together and we thought we’d push on whilst the development of the Dreamcast version was going well, and the good news is that it has gone gold and has been sent for manufacturing! We’ve tested the gold build thoroughly on all of the Dreamcast variations we have, using a range of controllers and peripherals, and everything seems extremely solid - thanks in particular to Tom Charnock and Mike Phelan of The Dreamcast Junkyard for supplying us with various bits for testing. I’m sure many of you are keen to know how the game plays with the Dreamcast’s legendary HKT-7500 twin stick controller, so here’s a quick video that Mike shot at home on his Sony PVM 20L4:

 As mentioned in the video, the intro sequence now has a voice over recorded by George Exley who handled the other male voices in the game, and we’ve also made a slight tweak to the controls particularly for the benefit of twin stick users, which is that you can now roll whilst shooting - previously your roll would be cancelled if you tried shooting during a roll. A few people mentioned this after playing the Mega Drive / Genesis version and it felt like a change that we should make on the Dreamcast version where the 6-button control scheme is the standard. We’ve also been able to show the score and high-score in-game now, something that was only possible in the Mega Drive version when playing Infinite Mode due to tile limitations, although this feature can be toggled on / off: 

 Another nice feature is that the VMU displays your health throughout the game:

 You’ll also be pleased to know that Xeno Crisis works great on VGA monitors too:

 Next up we have the designs for the covers / manual and discs - as you can see, each region has its own design, which we felt was an important touch for Dreamcast collectors who collect for a particular region:

As with all of our products, we’ve tried to be as thorough with our Dreamcast implementation as we can be, implementing all the little details and then testing on a wide range of devices, controllers and third party products. Here is Xeno Crisis running on a GDEMU for example:

 We will be providing GDI, CHD and CDI file ROM download options at release; these will be made available at the same time as we start shipping the physical CDs. If you have ordered a physical copy and need to update your address for delivery please contact us ASAP as we anticipate the manufactured CDs will get to us in about 3 weeks time.

Neo Geo versions nears completion!

The Neo Geo versions continue to make steady progress - we had to jump on the Dreamcast heavily this last month or so to finalise it, but now it’s complete we can focus all of our efforts on the Neo Geo. Fortunately our codebase shares a lot of common code and a number of the features and changes from the Mega Drive we implemented for Dreamcast also benefit the Neo Geo.

 As with the Dreamcast version we’re making sure all of the extra details and features that are unique to Neo Geo games are in place and implemented properly. Little details like for example on the Neo Geo CD, we’ve implemented our own animated loading sequence, and the logo for the newer bios as found in the CD-Z and UniBios:

As we’ve mentioned before we try to carry out extremely thorough testing where we can. For Neo Geo we’ve been actively buying one of every model AES, MVS and CD. We actually have 30 unique MVS model revisions now, although if you’ve got a spare MV1B-CHX we’d like to buy it to complete our set!

We had at this point hoped to have ordered the PCBs, however in the final stages of testing our prototype with some continued soak testing we found a rare reset issue that would only occur on some models. We’re currently waiting for a prototype PCB revision to arrive, which we anticipate will solve the issue, and after some more testing we will then proceed with ordering all of the PCBs.

 For those of you that have ordered a Collector’s Edition for Neo Geo, we need to finalise hostage names and confirm your serial number. We will get an email to you soon, confirming what we have on record and giving you the opportunity to make any changes. Please look out for updates on social media confirming when this has been sent.

We’re also pleased to say we will be getting 2 versions of the Neo Geo CD manufactured one with JP and the other with US/EU release styling. We will also be in contact with those of you that placed a pre-order to confirm your preference.

On the subject of Neo Geo hardware, we were fortunate enough to have the amazing Simon Lock (https://twitter.com/A3rgan) fix some of our AES and MVS units for our QA phase - you can see some of his handiwork here:
https://twitter.com/A3rgan/status/1253159266070007809

Do get in touch with him through his website (https://aergan.wordpress.com/) if you have any retro hardware that needs some attention!

Other

 We are proud to say we recently joined UKIE (the association for UK Interactive Entertainment), which will benefit us in a multitude of ways moving forward as we constantly aim to improve our operations.

 Those of you that have been following our updates over the last couple of years will know that Matt suffered a serious head injury back in June 2018, which left him suffering regular severe hemiplegic migraine attacks, leaving him unable to speak or walk properly. Whilst he is still not fully recovered he has been able to manage his condition much better in recent months. This has been made possible by the amazing work of the doctors at the National Migraine Centre: https://www.nationalmigrainecentre.org.uk

To help support the National Migraine Centre we will be launching an auction of a Mega Drive copy of Xeno Crisis signed by Henk, Matt and Mike, plus a bunch of other goodies thrown in. We will match the highest bid and all money will go to the National Migraine Centre. Please look out for the launch of the auction on social media soon!

Thanks!

Well I think that’s about it for this update - thank you all for your continued patience and support! Anyone wanting to order for Mega Drive or pre-order for Dreamcast/NeoGeo can do so through our online store here:

https://shop.bitmapbureau.com

Take care everyone and we’ll be in touch soon!

Progress update (January 2020)
4 months ago – Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 02:13:49 AM

Sorry for the lack of a recent update, but we were further inundated with orders leading up to and over the Christmas period, which meant needing to spend a good few weeks getting new orders manufactured, packed and shipped!

Shipping update

We recently caught up with all outstanding orders, so everyone should have received theirs especially Kickstarter backers which finished shipping back in November. We’ve had a few orders returned to us because of incorrect addresses, plus some reports of damaged cases, missing items etc... If you’ve had any problems with your copy then do get in touch.

Thank you for all of the great feedback and support from everyone who’s received their copies - it’s been really encouraging to hear the love for the game, and we certainly look forward to making another Mega Drive game one day!

Dreamcast and Neo Geo

The last couple of months it’s been tough trying to balance finishing the last bits of the Dreamcast and Neo Geo versions alongside the manufacturing and shipping of the Mega Drive / Genesis orders! So to speed things up, we brought in Steve Longhurst from “DO Games” to help finish off the Dreamcast version, leaving Matt’s time focused on the Neo Geo version so we can finish them both in parallel.

Steve’s already got to grips with the Dreamcast codebase and is ramping up quickly with implementing extended features like vibration, twin stick and VMU support. We’re also extremely grateful for the recent advice and help from Ste at HD Retrovision, as we look to ensure the Dreamcast version is of the highest quality in all regions and the various video output types / modes.

Matt’s made really good progress with the Neo Geo version, implementing all the specific Neo Geo features like Hard / Soft DIP switch support, attract sequences, coin / credit behaviours, backup memory, memory cards and so on. Now that we’re nearing the end of development, we’re ramping up our game testing on as many AES and MVS hardware revisions as we can just like we did on the Mega Drive version.

We’re pleased to say that all the Neo Geo AES / MVS plastics arrived just before Christmas and we’re really happy - the quality is excellent and we hope that you will be equally pleased with them, as they’re as close to the originals as we could hope for. Here are a few pictures of them for you to take a look at:

Strictly Limited Games

We are very pleased to announce that the physical boxed versions of Xeno Crisis for PS4 and Nintendo Switch will be available for pre-order from Strictly Limited Games on the 26th of January - both a standard edition and a special Collector’s Edition will be available. If you selected to wait for a physical version instead of a Switch digital code from us previously then we will be in touch with details on how to place your order. SLG will be announcing more details tomorrow ahead of the pre-order opening on the 26th.

https://www.strictlylimitedgames.com/releases-2/xeno-crisis/

Press

Xeno Crisis has received some great coverage since release, and here are some videos and reviews that you might enjoy:

My Life In Gaming - https://youtu.be/3XSXJQRkLkA?t=1917

Daniel Ibbertson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5plBroywh0

Kim Justice - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg5yXNnVXO4

Sega Lord X - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXJqKv92WM0

On A Retro Tip - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjrhPtxogw8

Nintendo Life - https://www.nintendolife.com/reviews/nintendo-switch/xeno_crisis

SEGA 16 - http://www.sega-16.com/2019/11/xeno-crisis/

We were also fortunate enough to appear in Retro Gamer magazine’s 200th issue, which is a highly recommended read if you’re into retro gaming:

Other bits

Before they were sent out to their new owners, we managed to take a group photo of the Xeno Crisis customised Mega Drives, so here they are in all their glory:

Since Mike’s work on Xeno Crisis is now done, he has moved on to collaborating with Henk Nieborg, who has been working on a secret project of his own. Hopefully Henk will share his creation with the world soon!

Finally, if you’re playing the Mega Drive version and still having trouble reaching Dr.Herzog without using an elixir, then you might find this cheat useful:

To all of you who have completed the game, we salute you! Oh yes, if anyone playing on one of the modern platforms who has five minutes to spare, it would really help us out if you could leave us a Steam review, unless you absolutely hated it of course! ;)

Mega Drive Release! (October 2019)
7 months ago – Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 02:40:21 AM

Release day!

It’s been a manic couple of years but we’ve finally reached the day of release for Xeno Crisis on modern platforms, and as some of you may have noticed, we’ve also begun shipping the physical Mega Drive / Genesis versions. We annoyingly had a bit of a delay with our shipping agent but everything’s in place now and we’re shipping in batches, some of which have already been sent out - we’ll be steadily updating your orders with shipping / tracking information where appropriate as soon as we receive it and can pass it on.

Manufacturing the physical copies has been an arduous task for such a small team - Matt even got his dad and wife to help out! The number of variants has caused us a few headaches (eg. Japanese / US / PAL, retro / modern, Kickstarter / Collector’s / standard etc) but hopefully it’ll all be worth the effort! Here’s some photos showing what we’ve been going through at home and in the office to get everything ready over the past few weeks:

Whilst we’re on the subject of all things physical, here’s some shots of the manual and OST CD, as I don’t believe they’ve been shown anywhere yet:

And here are some of the Collector’s and Kickstarter Editions boxed up and ready to go:

Digital downloads

Anyone who pledged for a digital download of any description such as the Mega Drive / Genesis ROM, a Switch or Steam code, or indeed the OST, should have received or will shortly receive an email with instructions on how to redeem their order. (We’ve had a slight delay in sorting codes being sent out to Shopify orders).

Dreamcast / Neo Geo

We’ve not forgotten the Dreamcast and Neo Geo versions - we’re really excited to start full-on development for these once the bulk of the MD orders have shipped later this week. We’ll be back soon with a more normal development update for everyone.

Xeno Crisis

Anyway, thanks for all of the kind words and support, we really hope you enjoy playing Xeno Crisis. As always you can order any of the retro physical editions and the OST CD / vinyl direct from our store here:

Bitmap Bureau Store - https://shop.bitmapbureau.com/

And if you want to pick-up any of the modern versions you can do so here:

GoG - https://www.gog.com/game/xeno_crisis

Steam - https://store.steampowered.com/app/464260/Xeno_Crisis/

Switch - https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/xeno-crisis-switch/

PS4 (Europe) - https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP2492-CUSA12045_00-XENOCRISIS000000

PS4 (US) - https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP2628-CUSA13253_00-XENOCRISIS000000

Xbox One (releases on Wednesday - 30th October) - https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/xeno-crisis/9pnbgztl0z1s

All the best,

Matt and Mike

Progress Update (August/September 2019)
9 months ago – Sat, Sep 21, 2019 at 12:54:47 AM

Good news!

Hello everyone, and apologies for the later than normal update - it’s been a busy summer with family holidays breaking things up a bit. But as always we’ve been feverishly working away on the Mega Drive version and fixing those final bugs (we found about 50 more in the process of extended testing!), the result of which is that we can now tell you that the Mega Drive version has finally gone gold!

We have now jumped straight into the manufacturing phase, which entails putting together the PCB and shell casings, burning the game’s ROM image on to the carts and then getting them labelled, boxed and packaged up ready to be shipped. Here’s a photo of our parallel UMD rig in action, successfully writing 8 copies of the game in a test run:

A big thanks to Matt’s dad who not only helped with the parallel rig app for controlling the flashing but also helped us move all the Mega Drive cases and shells out of storage ready for manufacturing.

Shipping

If your address details have changed since you ordered - now is the time to update them. If you placed an order on Kickstarter / BackerKit please go here: https://xenocrisis.backerkit.com and if you ordered via Shopify please contact us. (Please note that some BackerKit orders / add-ons were not yet charged and we will be locking those orders down this coming week).

Shipping will most likely be handled in batches with Kickstarter backer orders going out first; when we start shipping we will keep everyone updated via email and social media.

Modern Platform Releases

Next up are the modern releases, which have been slated for release on October 28th for the Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, and Xbox One (October 30th). We’re also releasing PC, Mac and Linux versions across both Steam and GOG. We will of course be in touch with anyone who backed or pre-ordered any of these versions with a code to redeem your copy.

Don’t worry we’ve not forgotten the physical Nintendo Switch and Sony PS4 releases! We’ll be announcing more details about those with Strictly Limited Games very soon!

Dreamcast

It’s been a while since we covered the Dreamcast, but we’re pleased to say that the Dreamcast version is progressing very nicely. As the Mega Drive build stabilized it hasn’t taken long to port the rendering side of things over to the Dreamcast. The build is already about 95% there - just a few bits to sort like horizontal line scroll rendering, PuruPuru vibration pack, twin stick and VMU support, but the core game is working great as you can see in this video:

Mike isn’t too great with the Dreamcast pad though - he’s been playing the Mega Drive version too much!

Neo Geo

Just like the Dreamcast version the Neo Geo version is already working great from the Mega Drive codebase. Now that the Mega Drive version is complete we’ll be ramping up development heavily - focusing on integrating the Neo Geo extras like scaling support, MVS arcade behaviours for coin insert, attract sequences and so on.

Neo Geo plastic parts continue to progress very nicely - we’ve actually now got the potential for some transparent MVS shells as well as black. AES snap cases are also currently in the final stages of production which you can see in the sample photos below. We’re expecting to receive all the plastics in around 30 - 40 days.

Back in August we finally took delivery of our “Big Red” Neo Geo MVS cab, which had been shipped over from the US in a container and thankfully survived the journey intact! We knew it was a big, heavy cab, but we were quite shocked when it was delivered to the office and we quickly concluded that there was no way that it was going to make it up the staircase into our office without chopping it in half.

So for now it’s living in our storage facility down the road (not the shipping container in the photo, we wish!), so we’re going to try and grab some footage of Xeno Crisis running on it for our next update!

In case you missed it, please make sure to check out the great article Determining the Build Quality of a Game Cartridge on RetroRGB by René. Where you can see more details on the Xeno Crisis cartridge shells and PCBs, and how they compare to other games.

Over the summer we were lucky enough to receive our Mega SD from Terraonion, and we’re pleased to say that Xeno Crisis runs great on it! For those that don’t know, the Mega SD is an amazing cartridge that not only acts as a powerful Mega Drive ROM cartridge but also recreates the hardware of a Mega CD via FPGA! We’re really excited about the Mega SD and the potential it has for future indie Mega CD game development. Click here for more info:

https://shop.terraonion.com/en/products/16-megasd_megacd_segacd_fpga_cartridge.html

Now that launch day is finally upon us, we thought it would be a good time to put out an updated trailer, which has been produced by our talented friends over at Broken Bricks who we’ve worked with previously. We think they’ve done a great job, and we hope you all enjoy it!

That’s it for this update - please look out for manufacturing and shipping updates on our social media pages, and it would be great if you could give us a follow too:

https://twitter.com/BitmapBureau / https://www.facebook.com/BitmapBureau/ 

Thanks for the amazing support over the past two years, and we look forward to hearing what you think of Xeno Crisis in the near future!

Progress Update (June/July 2019)
10 months ago – Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 01:04:22 AM

Sega Mega Drive / Genesis latest

Over the last few weeks we’ve made excellent progress with reducing the bug list down, and we’re pleased to say we’re now in to single figures! We’ll shortly be making the release candidate version of the game available to a handful of carefully chosen testers who will be giving Xeno Crisis a thorough play test before we can finally burn the ROM to the cartridges!

Fighting the bug list has been long and hard, we continue to add different techniques into our debugging and testing cycles. These last few weeks saw our “funky chicken” testing come on leaps and bounds. Funky chicken is basically a randomisation of the controller inputs, effectively a continual button mash. This is extremely useful to find obscure bugs in the game, what has been really great though is we found that a couple of the emulators we use have options to frameskip and run them really fast. In fact with Gens KMod we found you could modify the config file to a much higher frameskip than what the UI allows. So we’re now able to have funky chicken run at 500-1000x. We’ve fixed the bugs it’s thrown up so far and it’s able to play randomly through the whole game (if we give it infinite health / ammo!) - here is some footage of it in action:

Whilst we’re on the subject of testing, we’ve been steadily acquiring a wide range of models and motherboard revisions and we finally acquired a Japanese Mega Drive version “VA0” to test Xeno Crisis on - it’s one of the rarer models featuring a daughterboard in the centre of the motherboard as you can see in the photo below:

Despite needing a good clean, this is an important acquisition for us as some titles have compatibility issues with this particular revision of the Mega Drive!

As well as the consoles themselves we’re also testing out a range of the more popular controllers, both official and 3rd party ones to make sure they’re working well where possible. We’ve collected a wide range of controllers and adaptors including the AsciiPad MD-6, EA 4-way Play adapter, Arcade Power Stick 1 and 2, 8BitDo M30, lots of 3/6 button pads and also an XE-1 SG.

After some last minute tweaks and improvements from the amazing René Richard at db electronics, the UMD flashing software is now ready and we’ve finalised our parallel burning rig ahead of cartridge flashing. We’ve managed to hook up 8 in parallel which should help reduce the manufacturing time down - a big thank you to Catskull Electronics, Adam Wells, Derek Bonner and Matt Phillips for donor UMD devices.

Neo Geo latest

Obviously we’ve been focusing on finalising the Mega Drive version in recent weeks but this has the immediate benefit of bringing the Neo Geo version closer to completion. We’re already able to compile and play the Mega Drive codebase on a Neo Geo nicely.

This month we spent a bit of time finalising the V ROM (Audio) for the Neo Geo, packing in some extra SFX/Voices and getting the in-game music working. We then tested it on AES/MVS and NGCD and (aside from a stack of CD-R coasters chasing a bug on NGCD) we’re pleased to report it’s working nicely. 

We’re expecting delivery of our Neo Geo MVS cabinet next week, so we hope to capture footage of the game playing on it for our next update! Once the MD version reaches final, we’ll begin the process of looking at the extra enhancements and content we can add to the Neo Geo version and we’re pleased to say HPMAN has kindly supplied us some developer kit updates with scaling support!

Other non-software development aspects are still ticking along nicely; back in June we received photos of the test molds for the MVS plastics (final versions will of course be black). The plastics are currently in production at the factory and we hope to receive those in due course.

Manufacturing

We continue to ramp up the non-game side of release - we’ve recently secured a new warehouse with better storage and a long work-bench for easier manufacturing. We’re also now sorting out the last of the physical rewards, including the collector’s edition t-shirts which arrived a couple of weeks ago and look fantastic:

The OST CD is currently being manufactured, which was mastered by our friend Lee Mintram, also known as “Featurecast” - he’s an amazing producer and even has a track featured in Jet Grind Radio! Here’s the mastered version of the lab track to give you an idea of the quality:


We also received this month the final shots of one of the customised Mega Drives designed by Vadu Amka, which was the top pledge in the Xeno Crisis Kickstarter campaign:

We hope you’ll agree that she’s done a fantastic job! 

As we’re close to release for the Mega Drive now, in the next couple of weeks we’ll be locking down all the BackerKit (Kickstarter) pledges/rewards and charging any outstanding extra payments. If you need to update your address please do so, the sooner the better, although I expect we will let people know when we need them to finalise that just before shipping labels are printed.

Other

Last month we were invited to showcase Xeno Crisis at Joypadbar’s SuperIndieWareHouse event in London, which was a good opportunity for us to have a load of people check out the game ahead of release and discover a couple of new bugs (which we’ve since fixed)!

The creator of Tanglewood, Matt Phillips, was also there demoing Tanglewood, so the Mega Drive was well represented, and he took some time out to have a crack at Xeno Crisis, and had this to say:

“Controls are TIGHT, graphics a solid 10, and it's difficult but not unfair. Super excited for this.”

It was great to meet Matt in person at last, and if you haven’t checked out Tanglewood yet then you really should - you can grab a copy right here:

https://tanglewoodgame.com

Talking of other Mega Drive games, if you haven’t already please make sure to check out the Phantom Gear kickstarter campaign:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/megacatstudios/phantom-gear-for-the-sega-genesis-mega-drive

Right, that’s all for this update, we’d better get back to fixing those last few bugs!