Xeno Fighters R has quite a history behind it since its original conception in 1998. During that time, it underwent three game name changes, three different development platforms, and numerous gameplay revisions.

Conception and creation

The History of Xeno Fighters EX-R 1998-2009 (HD)

The History of Xeno Fighters EX-R 1998-2009 (HD)

Video briefly chronicling the evolution of Xeno Fighters R.

Alluro first played the first Raiden Fighters in the arcades back in 1997. Instantly becoming hooked to its manic gameplay and varied ship roster, the idea was born to make a tribute game to the Raiden Fighters games.

Kamikaze (1998)

The first-ever incarnation of what would become Xeno Fighters R was called Kamikaze, and a prototype was made in 1998 on a game-making software called Klik 'n Play. It never got past the prototype stage due to the difficulty of making a game styled after Raiden Fighters on the software. The game was put on hold for two years.

V.A.F. Squadron (2000-2002)

VAF Squadron

V.A.F. Squadron screenshot

In the year 2000, a new game called V.A.F. Squadron (V.A.F. stood for Video Arcade Fighters) was created from scratch in Multimedia Fusion.

This game introduced the Amada Vipros. Originally, the Amada Vipros was the only original ship, with five ships from other shmups rounding out the rest of the six-ship roster. Two of the V.A.F. ships came from the 1987 Tecmo shmup, Gemini Wing. Their Bombs were two of the special weapons from the game (Spark Hurricane, Wide Beam), which explains the origin of the Phyxius and Zaiva Bombs, the Gemini Wing ships' later replacements. The Gemini Wing sound effects for those two bombs were retained for that old-school feel. The V.A.F. version of Solvalou was replaced with the Xelcor. The Raiden mk-II and Judge Spear were later made as secret cameo ships when the game became Xeno Fighters. The Vic Viper was added later, and the Solvalou was added back to the roster as a secret cameo and given new weaponry. The V.A.F. version of the Raiden mk-II originally had the blue Raiden II Laser as its Laser weapon. As time went on, an algorithm that tried to duplicate the Raiden II Bend Plasma laser was slowly added. The XF-R version of the Raiden II Bend Plasma is still not game-perfect, but it is quite close to the original.


A rather corny backstory was written for this version to justify the presence of ships from other games on the roster:

It is the year 2005. All the Earth's population is at peace. The peace is kept by a fleet of an advanced spacecraft called the Amada Vipros. The Earth was so confident that peace was permanent that all of the Amada Vipros space fighters were being decommissioned and disassembled. One day, a hostile race of aliens attacked Earth without warning. The aliens captured Earth's military forces for their own use. By this time, all but one Amada Vipros ship was disassembled. The Earth's best fighter pilot was immediately called to pilot it. The Amada Vipros is the Earth's most advanced ship. However, just one against the alien armada and Earth's captured military will be a death warrant. Military officials consulted inter-dimensional researchers as to what spacecraft to import from other dimensions to aid the lone Amada Vipros. An unusual conclusion was reached: Video Arcade Fighters! It was discovered that fighter ships in video arcade games were given outrageously powerful weapons. Inter-dimensional scientists scoured the dimensional realm of video games for ships they can use. They found five powerful space-capable fighters. Now, a new fighter squadron is formed of ships that spans dimensions, human imagination, and different video game eras.....

Xeno Fighters EX (2003)

Over time, the game changed names to Xeno Fighters. The "EX" was later added after difficulty levels were implemented (from the word EXpert). This version introduced three new original ships: the Phyxius, the Zaiva, and the Xelcor. Like the Amada Vipros, they were created by Isotoxin.

New cameo guest fighters were the Vic Viper and the Solvalou.

The now-famous Ultima-X was the result of Alluro and a couple of friends brainstorming a ship with exorbitant weaponry. Its name was about to be "Tohkurasu," the Japanese equivalent of the person's last name that helped make the ship.

Technically, the game underwent a massive overhaul. The V.A.F. Squadron overly bright background graphics, which made the bullets hard to see, were dumped and replaced with lower-contrast backgrounds. Bullets were also made larger and brighter. Bosses had battle damage added to them.

Xeno Fighters EX transitioned from MIDI files to external MP3s for its background music.

The final version of Xeno Fighters EX was released in 2003.

Xeno Fighters R (2009-2011)

In 2009, remake of Xeno Fighters EX in Game Maker 7 Pro was started, taking on the name Xeno Fighters EX-R initially. It incorporated many new features not implemented in the original or impossible to do in Multimedia Fusion.

New guest fighters

A significant aspect of the remake was the addition of even more guest fighters from other shmup series, both well-known and obscure. For the first time since the V.A.F. Squadron days, the Gemini Blue and Gemini Red return to the roster as the Castor and the Pollux, respectively, with all-new weapons based on attacks found in Gemini Wing.

Summary of new features

This is a summary of new features introduced in the remake:

  • "Horizontal wobble mode", a feature found in many modern vertical shmups that allow for a wider playfield, is implemented.
  • Slave powerups from Raiden Fighters. Some cameo fighters have their own unique Slave sprites (Zapdos' Slaves are Articuno and Moltres, for example).
  • Auto-fire, a much requested feature in the original.
  • New Game modes:
    • Conquest Mode: Play through a stage of your choice and score as high as you can.
    • Boss Rush: Fight all bosses one after another.
  • Raiden Fighters Jet's bonus chaining and score multipliers.
  • All-new EX stages, which consist of original stage themes and game-themed stages used to unlock certain cameo ships.
  • Cameo bosses (like Black Heart from Battle Garegga)
  • 100% customizable music soundtrack, with multiple audio formats supported, including OGG Vorbis and MP3.
  • Branching, non-linear stage progression, which takes players to different stages based on fulfilling certain stage objectives.
  • The Fairy bonus item from the Raiden Fighters games is in.
  • Bosses now have Cave-style lifebars, with markers denoting the amount of damage a boss takes before being sent to its next attack form.

As development of the remake progressed, it became more than just a remake, with many new features not found in the original Xeno Fighters EX. The project had turned into a massive reimagining of the previous game. In light of this, the project underwent another name change, dropping the "EX" part, resulting in the current name: Xeno Fighters R.

Xeno Fighters R - Game Maker Studio port (2019-present)

BPzeBanshee, a long-time Xeno Fighters collaborator, began a port of the Game Maker 8 source code base to Game Maker Studio. After dealing with the initial porting issues, he finished its first iteration on December 2018. According to BPzeBanshee, a lot of work has been done on the backend to fix long-standing issues from the GM8 version. Alluro (having since retired that username) has returned to help with the port.

Gallery of revisions screenshots

A gallery of screenshots chronicling the evolution of the game.

Sprite revisions


Raiden mk-II and Judge Spear sprite evolution over different games.

From left to right: VAF Squadron (2000), VAF Squadron (2001), Xeno Fighters EX (2003), Xeno Fighters R (2010), alternate reshaded set for Xeno Fighters R

Certain sprites, most notably in the case of the Raiden mk-II and Judge Spear, have undergone significant changes over time. The Raiden mk-II's base was originally the Raiden ship from the Sega Genesis version of Raiden Trad. Later versions of the Raiden mk-II were based on the sprite from the arcade version of ther first Raiden. The Judge Spear started as a modification of the Raiden mk-II. Once the first screen captures of Raiden Fighters games hit the internet, the Judge Spear sprite got as close to the original sprite possible at the time. When the Raiden Fighters games were finally able to be emulated in MAME with proper graphics, clean Raiden Fighters versions of the Raiden mk-II and Judge Spear sprites were possible, making their way into Xeno Fighters R.

An alternate reshaded set of Raiden mk-II and Judge Spear sprites have been provided by Herr Schatten.

Title screen


V.A.F. Squadron (earliest version)


V.A.F. Squadron (Revision 1)


Xeno Fighters (2001)


Xeno Fighters EX (first redesign)

Xeno Fighters EX Title 2

Xeno Fighters EX (2003-2009)


Xeno Fighters R (First rendition, 2009-2010)
Xeno Fighters R (2010-present)

Ship select screen


V.A.F. Squadron (Initial Version)


V.A.F. Squadron (Revision 2)


V.A.F. Squadron (Revision 3)


Xeno Fighters EX


Xeno Fighters R

High score table

High Score 1

V.A.F. Squadron (Initial)


V.A.F. Squadron (revision 1)

High Score 3

Xeno Fighters EX

XFEX-R high score

Xeno Fighters R (2009-2010)

Raiden mk-II Bend Plasma weapon

The Raiden mk-II's Bend Plasma weapon has undergone the most revisions out of any ship weapon. It uses an extremely complex algorithm that I cannot even figure out completely. It started as a guided version of the straight blue Laser from the original Raiden. The Bend Plasma's first incarnation was very crude and behaved more like an erratic snake with no actual lock-on capabilities. It took a Multimedia Fusion extension that allowed WHILE-style looping to make a passable algorithm for the Plasma Beam in the original Xeno Fighters EX. Game Maker's more advanced math functions and C++ style scripting allowed for an even more fluid algorithm in Xeno Fighters R. To this date, the Bend Plasma's algorithm is still not game perfect, though it has come a very long way.

Raiden Laser 1

V.A.F. Squadron (initial)

Raiden Laser 2

V.A.F. Squadron (first Bend Plasma algorithm)

Raiden Laser 3

Xeno Fighters EX (Bend Plasma revision 1)

Raiden Laser 4

Xeno Fighters EX (Bend Plasma revision 2)

XFEX-R Raiden Laser

Xeno Fighters R (massively revamped Bend Plasma algorithm)

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