Sunday, 22 August 2010

Arcade Born, not console bred: ALIENS

ALIENS was released in 1986, to much acclaim. It took the premise of the original, and added a lot of combat, and scares, to the series. Of course, games were produced. The most well known is the Electric Dreams' ALIENS, which was, in a sense, a first person shooter, and was released on the Amstrad, C64 and Spectrum. And was bloody hard, but bloody good. It made you jump like Mario, but was difficult to navigate, so many people got lost on their way to tea with the Queen (hang on, thats not right....). So, Konami decided  four years later, to make a run 'n' gun based on the film, but rather loosely.
Hang on! I don't remember this from the movie!!!

After a rather good intro sequence, you get thrust into the settlement of LV426 (aka Archeron), to battle the Alien menace. But, instead of the normal movie aliens, you get ones that look like snakes, ones that look like bats, and one that has some sort of armour (?). But, the chestbursters and facehuggers are also present, so at least thats in keeping with canon of the series. Saying that, the bosses aren't. There are also between level segments, with you in the personnel carrier going from one part of the settlement to another, trying to track down Newt, who has run off (kids, eh?). You do have additional weapons to pick up along the way, like missile launchers, a three-way plasma gun and a flame thrower, along with health pick-ups and extra lives. At certain parts, you have to go through air vents to reach the next part of the level. As soon as you enter the shaft, the trademark motion tracker appears at the top of the screen, long with blips for your position and for threats, which is a nice touch, as it stops unexpected deaths. The only problem is, that you don't get the trademark motion tracker sound, which is not a really big problem, but without it, it loses some of it's atmosphere.
I remember this bit....but she run them over instead, didn't she?

The game is really well made, with sound bites from the movie and some good graphics. Admittedly, they haven't aged all that well, but they are still pretty good in keeping with the tone of it's source material. The only problem is the controls. Well, not with the joystick, as Ripley moves really well. It's rather that instead of having a button for kneeling fire and a button for bombs, both are mapped to the one button, which is annoying when you have a lot of facehuggers and you can use your normal fire button. Apart from that, the game is really enjoyable, and ALIENS fans will get a lot out of it. Run 'n gun fans will also find something of enjoyment here, with loads of things to blast at, and even slap when you jump into the Power Lifter (Yay!!). The closest the home computers could come to this was the US version of ALIENS, only when you land on the planet, it's more akin to a maze game. But, thats for another post.


  1. The absence of the Motion Tracker sound IS a problem! It creates a lot of tension, but nevermind. Nice write-up mate, and nice new look for the page! :)

  2. Thanks. I did want an arcade screenshot, but I have naff all idea on how to do it ha ha!

  3. Ha! Cool, you got in on the act before Retro Gamer's 'Same Name Different Game' schtick. A good read, thank you.