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Trapped in a fantasy world of bizarre creatures and landscapes, guide archeologist Malvenious through dangerous lands and get out of Xargon alive! Avoid spears, spikes & mechanical mashers as you fight lizards, trolls, enormous spiders and deadly purple hoppers through breathtaking 256-color scenery & animation. Be prepared to lose touch with reality in this new magical adventure. 
~from the back of the shareware box

The PC wasn't exactly know for its quality platformers, but there were a couple of development houses doggedly trying to prove that statement false. One of them was Epic MegaGames back when the gaming giant was just a prolific maker  of shareware games. Jill of the Jungle and its sequels were some of their standout games, and you can find all for free on GOG, but their 1994 game, Xargon, should be up there too. It does use the same engine after all.
You play as Malvineous Havershim, who despite having a name that would suggest otherwise, is a human man from earth. He has been trapped in a fantasy world thanks to an archaelogical dig gone wrong. This world is in turmoil thanks to an evil ruler named Xargon hell bent on ruling over the bizarre creatures within. Typical Shareware guff that has little to no relevence to the game itself. 
Malvineous controls rather well, with a tight and predictable jumping arch which you can change mid-air. Enemies are not dispatched with a bounce to the bonce, instead maing use of a myriad of projectiles. Your basic attack is the laser gun, a single dash of slow-moving light shot straight ahead. If you hold the shoot button, you can curve it up or down a little by pressing up or down at the same time. At this stage, only one bullet can be on screen at once, but you can find powerups such as a rapid fire or fire ball. They only last for a short while, but you can buy them at any time if you have enough emeralds in your pocket. Just press 'B' to open the market stall.

Chosen by an cool-looking overworld map, the levels have a good variety to them. You have to hunt down coloured keys before finding your way to the exit. These keys allow you to unlock new paths on the overworld, but the level also blocks you from leaving if you haven't collected it. If there's one gripe I have, it's with the occasional poor enemy placement. There will be moments where you cannot proceed without taking a hit reducing the polish of the overall package. The graphics are also a little basic for a 1994 release. This was the same year as Donkey Kong Country, but I guess Epic were aiming for the average consumer, not the super-rich hardware hounds. Even so, I did notice a fair bit of slowdown when a lot of stuff was happening on screen such as the death throws of a multitude of enemies. It can gete a bit much at times, but it never hindered gameplay in any major way.
Even with a number of branching paths and doorways, the levels are mostly rather small. If your competent enough to not die, you can complete each one in about 5 minutes. That being said, there's still a lot of game here with around 40 levels shared between the three chapters - the first of which was released for free back in the day as shareware. It won't complete with anything the consoles were doing at the time, but overall its a very decent action platformer of a system that has very few of them.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 3.63 Mb.  Install Size: 9.59 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Xargon is © Epic MegaGames
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. A shareware classic. Well deserving of its status in shareware platformer history, along with Commander Keen, Jazz Jackrabbit, Jill of the Jungle, Duke Nukem and.. uh.. Skunny.

    1. Hey, don't knock Skunny. He had his place in the woodchipper :)