Xevious holds the distinction of being one of the first vertical-scrolling aircraft shoot-'em-ups. Namco released the original arcade cabinet in 1982 and subsequently published numerous versions for the various home consoles of the day. Without Xevious, superlative shoot-'em-ups like 1942, Raiden, and Ikaruga may never have seen the light of day. For that reason alone, Xevious deserves respect. However, that respect doesn't mean you should pay 500 Wii points ($5) to play the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Xevious on your Wii's Virtual Console. The game was already behind the times when it finally hit the NES in 1984. Today, Xevious seems totally ancient with its overly repetitious design and ugly 8-bit visuals.
As shooters go, it doesn't get much simpler than Xevious. You pilot a ship, called the Solvalou, over a scrolling landscape and blast enemies using an endless supply of bullets and bombs. Enemy tanks and planes swoop into view, fire off some bullets, and retreat. Occasionally, a large mothership will appear, and you can try to shoot it down or wait until it leaves. If you get hit by a single bullet, you'll lose a ship and start from a predetermined point. There are no power-ups to collect. The game simply loops the same 10 brief areas indefinitely until you run out of ships. While it's not a bad design, you don't see anything new after the first 30 seconds or so. As such, the game becomes tiresome pretty quickly. Graphics and audio are rather basic, as well. The brown and green backgrounds look vaguely like terrain, while the gray enemy ships more closely resemble geometric shapes than aircraft. Throughout it all, you'll hear the same sirenlike music and "plink, plink, plink" laser fire constantly.
Those that are intent on downloading and playing the NES version of Xevious on their Wiis can at least rest easy that the Virtual Console emulates the game perfectly. The 8-bit graphics are crisp, the scrolling is smooth, and all of the old Easter eggs are in there. Playing with the Wii Remote gives the experience that authentic NES feel, although the GameCube controller and Classic Controller are more comfortable for lengthier sessions.
Unless you're absolutely sure you like Xevious, you should pass on downloading it to your Virtual Console. The design is too simplistic and repetitive to be much fun, and the graphics and audio don't have any charm whatsoever. This is one classic that hasn't aged well.