Exed Exes

Looking back at more old Capcom games, today we go slightly out of order and look at Exed Exes. Spoiler alert: This game isn’t very good.

Or maybe it is. But if so, its quality exists in some arcane measure that I am unable to discern with my feeble human perception.

Exed Exes sounds like a game about shooting former spouses or something, but in fact it involves robotic alien insects (the original U.S. arcade release came in under the title Savage Bees, in fact). I suppose it’s a little like Galaga, except nowhere near as well-considered. Exed Exes feels like a step down from Capcom’s first game, Vulgus, in every way except visuals. The music is especially terrible — a repetitive drone that sounds like it’s going to build into something interesting but never does.

This, as it turns out, is a metaphor for the game action itself! It’s just humdrum shooting from top to bottom — or bottom to top, as the case may be — as your little ship flies ahead and avoids collisions with enemies and enemies’ bullets. Most of the bad guys take the form of, yes, bees. Some of the bees are very large, much like the enormous flies in Vulgus. After a while, you’ll reach the “high point zone” (or something along those lines), where giant skulls drift downward toward you and soak up bullets. Then it’s back to the grind again.

Even though Exed Exes features more elaborate graphics and faster action than Vulgus, it comes off as a less refined game. It lacks the rhythm that makes Vulgus unique and interesting; in that game, learning when and where to fire off those piercing rockets for top score combos becomes the defining strategic element, a bedrock of consistent level design and placement around which less predictable chaos swirls. Exed Exes is just waves of bees that move faster and shoot more. Of all the old-school Capcom shooters I’ve played, it offers the least thoughtful play and most slapdash challenges. Nothing about Exed Exes really defines it as a game; if it stands out among its peers, it’s strictly in terms of its mediocrity. Well, I guess they can’t all be winners.

6 thoughts on “Exed Exes

  1. I’ve got Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded as well, and while I generally don’t use the sound remix options because they’re terrible and completely miss the appeal of the game music they’re remixing, there are two game’s I’m more than happy to switch over to remixes for. The first is Vulgus; the other is Exed Exes.

    As for the game itself, yeah…Exed Exes is pretty unremarkable save for the whacked out graphics. It’s definitely the weakest of the shooters on the compilation.

    I’m looking forward to more of your opinions on Capcom arcade games. I’ve had some fun times replaying old arcade games myself.

    It’s especially interesting when an arcade game has pretty awesome stuff for its time. For example, Namco’s King & Balloon is your typical Space Invaders-esque shooter, but your lives are tied to the king’s safety, not your own. Your little green guys with the crossbow can get shot and killed as many times as you’d like, but if your king is successfully kidnapped by one of the hot air balloons you lose a life. It also features voice acting for the king, and this is in a game from 1980.

      • That’s true, it’s really unremarkable as a game. But even so, voiceovers and your lives being tied to something other than your player are still pretty neat features for just another game that wishes it had Space Invaders’ quarters.

  2. While I completely agree that Exed Eyes is a blah sort of game (and less appealing than Vulgus) I can’t help but wonder why you praised 1942 so much. I find it is just as bland and repetitive as Exed Eyes.

    As for early Capcom shooters, Gunsmoke really appealed to me as a kid in arcades. But when I go to play it now, I wish there was some amount of auto-fire, because my poor digits can’t take more than a few levels before wearing out.

    • Fair enough about 1942, but I see more of the company’s future direction in that one. And its power-up structure is less opaque, its visuals not as clashy, and its enemies more interesting.

  3. I’m fairly sure I read somewhere that within the subgenre of the shooter, whatever it’s called when it’s insanely hard and there’s too many bullets for any sane person to count, the most challenging boss in any of them is some kinda bee. Probably a conincidence, but ya never know.

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