Monday 8 February 2016

Alien Storm (Mega Drive / Genesis review)

Developer: Sega AM7
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1991

Alien Storm is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that was first released in the Arcades in 1990.

It supports 1-2 players and your mission is to stop aliens from invading the planet. There's eight stages and three playable characters called Gordon (fires a Thunder Bazooka), Karla (shoots a Fire Blaster) and Slammer (wields an Electric Whip). Similar to Golden Axe (1989, Mega Drive) you can double-tap a direction on the d-pad to start running, and then perform a Leap Attack or a High Jump. You can also unleash a special attack if you've collected enough Energy Units. Unfortunately, the combat suffers from stiff controls and button presses feel slightly laggy. At times it can be tricky to line up your attacks as even though the shadows indicate where you're positioned in relation to enemies you'll often miss. I found there to be barely any differences between characters, along with a lack of power-ups or extra weapons to keep things interesting. At the end of some stages you'll reach a 3D Shooting Range where you move the crosshair around in a first-person perspective and destroy aliens while avoiding civilians; these are a blast to play as you can just unleash mayhem inside stores! The variety continues with multiple on-rails shooter sections where you blast down enemies as they approach from the right. Again, these are great and remind me of a less frustrating version of the Turbo Tunnel from Battletoads (1991, NES). There are a few bosses but they're dull and end up repeating themselves. There's also a Duel mode (single player challenge with nine enemy waves) and a 1P Vs. 2P mode (one-on-one battle) but they're minor distractions and suffer from the same control issues.
Alien Storm is a mediocre beat-em-up that hasn't stood the test of time as well as other Sega franchises like Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. Although there's some excellent variety to break up the action, the brawling sections just aren't strong enough and the unrefined combat makes for some rather shallow gameplay in the end.
Random trivia: The game was also ported to the Sega Master System in 1991, but only in Europe.

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