Xoanon (released as Xoanon Reptilia – which we’ll come onto shortly…) seems to be an early version of Xenon, or at least Gamebase makes the link with the game. So, are they indeed the same game?
This preview just seems to be a simple prototype vertical scroller, with Xenon’esq backgrounds. But one of the key things to note is that the score panel matches most of the Xenon panel.
GTW64 researcher Gaz Spence flagged up this game in our archives in December 2022, and that the C64 versions likely came out in July 1988. First release of this demo seems to be early March 1988, which more or less falls into the same release time-frame as the original 16-bit game. Seems there could be more to this preview than meets the eye.
Another thing is that the game was very likely misnamed as “Xoanon Reptilia” during its leak/crack. We believe that Reptilia is just the name of the development team (Reptilia Design) that was behind the work (RD are also initials in the score panel), and was included within the score panel as credit. “Xoanon” may have been a deliberate attempt at moving away from the final release name.
At the moment we’ve been getting in touch with some ex-Reptilia Design members to try and establish that this was one of their works, and what the story is behind it. Ian and Mic have confirmed that it was not one of their developments, and Rob Whitaker and Steve Snake also confirmed it wasn’t theirs. Rob doesn’t think it is Warren Mills’ work, and both Rob and Steve suggest that it could be Andy Mucho.
We’re now just waiting to hear back from Andy to see if it was indeed his – as there are really no other candidates at the moment and we’re pretty certain it was done by someone in Reptilia. Rob informs us that Reptilia Designs was never a formal company but just a name used on games and demos by a bunch of programmers.
It seems very possible that this was an early development of Xenon that was being done in parallel with the 16-bit versions – but was abandoned, and passed straight onto a cracking crew to release (but with a slight name change to go under the radar). However, Rob says that although one of the Reptilia Design people may have put this together, at no point was any Reptilia person officially hired to work on a conversion.
Of course, an official and finished version of Xenon would appear some months later, created by Chris Caress, who was nothing to do with Reptilia Design.
We hope to have more on this all soon, but thanks to Gaz for giving the kick to investigate in more detail about the title, which has helped lead us to this stage.
Contributions: Gaz Spence, Steve Snake, Ian & Mic, Rob Whitaker
- 19/12/22 – Further links and leads, including a realisation of the developer right before our very eyes all along.
- 12/12/22 – Details about the preview thanks to Gaz Spence.
Xenon was developed for the Amiga and published through Melbourne House in March 88. It would have been Melbourne House that hired the developers for the 8 bit versions and I believe those versions came out in July 88. My hunch is that this preview started as an unlicenced version of Xenon which Melbourne House then picked up. The first release of this game demo appears to be early March 88 which more or less falls within the original Xenon release timescale.
I think its a good hunch Gaz – there are so many parallels, plus parts of the dashboard match with the symbols/letters. I’ll make a note to try and do a bit more digging into the code to see if I can find any clues before the Christmas update.