Saturday 2 July 2016

Alien (Supervision review)

Developer: Watara
Publisher: Watara
Released: 1992

Alien is a shoot-em-up that bears no resemblance to the 1979 film of the same name.

It consists of six stages and your mission is to destroy the monsters from Outer Space. Your main weapon is a weak shot but it can be charged for a more powerful blast. Gameplay wise, the action is slow with tons of ghosting and flickering. There's also many unavoidable deaths due to disappearing bullet sprites and spotty collision detection. The first few stages are generic and don't really create any level of intensity. However, to the game's credit it does constantly add new enemy types, including some that can only be killed with a charged shot; these enter at greater speed so you need precise aim to avoid being smashed to pieces by their kamikaze attacks. While the start of the game is uninteresting things pick up later on. For example, Stage 4 replaces the wide open spaces with tight corridors which reminds me of Scramble (1981, Arcades). Two power-ups also become available for the first time - Electricity (fires beams towards the top and bottom of the screen) and a Booster (A.I. controlled partner that's invincible). These introduce another layer of strategy but it's odd that they're not seen until deep into the game as they're enjoyable. Stage 6 is less of a shoot-em-up and more about dodging everything that moves; this is mainly due to the deteriorating collision detection and bullets that fly straight through enemies. The bosses feature lots of variety (e.g. a Robot Cougar that shoots fireballs and a Robot Horse that stalks you around the playfield) and are probably the highlight of the game. Unlimited continues are also available which keeps you playing for longer while punishing you by resetting your score. The SFX feature some passable explosions but the brief, singular music track is enough to drive you insane!
Alien is a mediocre shoot-em-up with dull level design and lethargic gameplay that does little to impress. It does have a few good ideas but it's a shame that the best stages and weapons are only available towards the end of the game, meaning most people probably won't even experience them.
Random trivia: The game's ending is very brief and features many typos and examples of Engrish!

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