Saturday, 13 May 2017

In space, no one can hear video games scream

Promequel is out.

It was [censored].

Before my scoop, let's remind ourselves what pixels had to offer.

Mobile fodder will be ignored.

Unless stated, game title is identical to film it was based on.

Alien

Fox Video Games 1982 (Atari 2600)

The first licensed game was a shameless Pac-Man piss take.

Is that the best they could come up with?

Swapping dots for eggs and ghosts for aliens (giant mouths on puny legs), a human participates in a premise so lazy, it's fucking unbelievable.

Mazes have power pills and a flamethrower.

After each stage, bonus area swarming with aliens is basically Frogger, without the logs or personality.

Concept Software 1984 (Spectrum/C64) and Amstrad CPC (1985)

As game starts, you're informed the alien has given Kane violent chest cramp and then it's character select time.

The Nostromo is represented as a green and black grid as crew members search every nook and cranny of commercial towing vehicle for unwelcome guest.

Crew become increasingly unstable and depending on mental state (confident, broken, hysterical etc), may ignore pre-set text adventure-esque commands.

Another menu lets you choose rooms available for character to enter and help themselves to items and weapons.

To up the difficulty ante, 'somebody' (identity changes every game), is an android.

Yes, secondary antagonist may not be Ash.

If nasty creature occupies the same room, map screen will transform into a green alien.

That's snot a joke.

Special commands include:

Initiate auto-destruct, open/seal airlock and launch Narcissus.

If crew is depleted to three, you can escape in the shuttle, but only if Jones is caught and ship is set to auto-destruct.

Other ways to complete the game is to expel alien into space or kill it.

Remember, ship's hull doesn't take too kindly to acid for blood.

However game ends, rating is compiled from player's performance.

Gameplay in strategy adventure burns slower than an enormous candle, but what was achieved on host hardware was incredible.

Aliens The Computer Game (US Version) Activision 1986 (C64, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Apple II)

De-briefing scene with "Hudson Sir.  He's Hicks" really sets shit up.

Although dialogue before each section is 'wrong', you get the idea.

Essentially a mix of mini games, cast in full:

Hicks, Gorman, Vasquez, Hudson, Drake, Frost, Dietrich and Crowe.

No Apone?

Boooooo!!!!

More to the point, where's bowski?

Every key action sequence made it home safely.

Dropship landing, alien hive (with motion tracker), 'they cut the power', duct maze, rescuing Newt and of course, final confrontation with Queen inside power loader.

Just like the film, locator guides Ripley to Newt and while dropping flares is optional, screen shaking (representing impending explosion) is just a fabulous touch.

There's also some great screens, particularly "Get away from her you BITCH!"

In-game graphics and sound were functional back then.

And now...

Aliens The Computer Game, Software Studios 1987 (C64, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and MSX)

Tactical shmup was brawn with brain, and remains one of my favourite games of any era.

Ripley, Gorman, Hicks, Bishop, Vasquez and, er, Burke, attempt to make it out alive.

Android is an odd choice, but Burke?

(Rolls eyes).

Crosshair or sprite (if you like), moves freely around whichever room, all 255 of the suckers.

It won't be long before you grab pen and paper and make your own map.

Those were the days.

Officially a solitary experience, but best played with two.

One armed with joystick and fellow marine at qwerty.

You can command any character to move up to 9 rooms.

For example, typing 4NH moves Hicks 4 rooms north.

Pushing space bar on door has the same effect, but more time consuming.

In case you're wondering, Burke is B and Bishop is I.

Characters can become exhausted and standing stationary replenishes stamina bar.

Combined with high-pitched proximity alarm, aliens appear without warning.

The nervous or slow will be punished...

Yellow (captured), red (impregnated) and --- (dead).

Display then turns into interference and alien replaces mugshot.

Grim stuff.

Hauling ass to said room and killing alien rescues colleague, but only when status is yellow.

Anything else, game over man.

R.I.P. Bill Paxton.

Exiting a room with acid pool below or the 'wrong' door will result instantly kill.

Although only one girl or geezer can be controlled at a time, you can easily switch between characters, and essential when alien presence intensifies.

Growth must be cleared before room can be left, but if an alien selfishly shows up off-screen, it's usually bye bye baby.

This is because aliens automatically react to misplaced gunfire.

Newt can appear almost ghost like at random and can be killed.

There are a number of key 'unnamed' areas that player will stumble across.

Armoury (refills ammo), med lab (facehuggers), generator (theoretically prevents power from being cut) and Queens Chamber.

If a blackout does occur, shooting is the only to temporarily light up room.

SSSSHHHHIIIITTTTT!!!!!

Sprites look smashing and huggers even jump.

I did reach final area on several occasions, but always died.

Freeware developer Derbian Games remade situation 30 years later as LV-426.

Alien 2: Aliens, Square 1987 (MSX)

For those who don't know, Alien 2: On Earth is the unofficial 1980 Italian sequel to Alien.

Occasionally gory obscurity closed with this warning.

"You may be next!"

Errr, okay.

Anyway, here's another fucked up Japanese exclusive.

Queen doesn't transform into a variety of animals like Darth Vader in Famicom Star Wars, but 'huge hostile body' is the same boss for every stage.

Warriors, eggs, huggers and chestbursters redeem situation, but platformer was reportedly insanely difficult.

Famicom Disk System version was never released, but vids can be found on the internet.

Konami 1990 (Arcade)

Content of competent action game couldn't be more authentic.

To see why, give link a click.

http://nukesandknives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/konamis-video-game-adaptation-is.html

Alien 3

Unless stated, Probe went through the licensed motions.

Mega Drive, Master System, C64, Game Gear and NES (1992)

Ripley has so many attempts to simply rescue prisoners and find exit.

How imaginative.

After so many acts of repetition, a level guardian of alien warrior (lifted from Aliens) must be negotiated.

Oh, Ripley leaves Fiorina 'Fury' 161.

Whatever.

Identical Amiga game was written by Eden Entertainment.

SNES (1993)

Ripley wipes out xenomorphic crowd with flame thrower, pulse rifle and grenades.

Expect to weld doors, rescue prisoners, destroy eggs and repair fuse boxes.

Password system ensures we don't have to tackle monotony in one sitting.

A fully grown Alien Queen forming part of end sequence widens eyes, but Ripley's sacrificial descent is admirably recreated.

Game Boy (1993)

Penultimate entry takes the B.I.T.S.

Objective in overhead adventure was to escape in the EEV.

Static shots of Ripley, Dillon, Bishop and Andrews resemble their live action counterparts, but dialogue is mostly made up.

Once key card is found, backtracking is obligatory to get items and weaponry (like pistol and smart gun).

The blowtorch is used to burn through a door to get the flamethrower, which can only destroy eggs.

Are these fucking things bulletproof?

Weapons and items have their own set of slots, so once purpose is served, shit must be discarded.

Here's the problem.

Unlike Resident Evil, game doesn't have the common courtesy to inform when an item is useless.

ASSHOLES!

Before Queen graces us with her presence, all xenos must be exterminated.

Check out useful menu.

T - Time
P - Prisoners
A1 - Warrior
A2 - Drone
H - Huggers
E - Eggs

Why not W and D for Warrior and Drone respectively?

Getting the fuck out of dodge is timed, or company will turn up.

So after Ripley has worn out several pair of boots, giving tool bag to Bishop will have android fix EEV.

Queenie is invincible and bitch must be trapped by the pistons to seal molten demise.

Terminator 2 anybody?

Heroine makes her escape and enters hypersleep.

I've played much worse, but why persist with Queen bullshit and Ripley escaping?

Alien 3: The Gun, Sega 1993 (Arcade)

Ripping off Taito's pump action classic Space Gun, hostile aliens can be dismembered.

Yeah, you could do this years before Dead Space.

Very much in the mold of Line of Fire (not to be confused with Clint Eastwood thriller In the Line of Fire), trigger must be released to recharge infinite ammo.

Or as Hicks would say:

"Remember, short controlled bursts."

Of course, bombs help get through sticky situations.

Ripley gave fast moving lightgun popcorn a miss, as up to two marines smash their way through action that flashes a giant fuck you at reality.

Each stage is preceded by a series of digitised film stills.

Why? They don't mean jack shit.

We begin on board the Sulaco, which is bustling with all your favourite xenos, miniature missile tanks and machine gun drones.

Super Face-Hugger completes a head scratcher.

From there, we crash-land in the EEV where Fiorina 'Fury' 161 has already been turned into a nest of Aliens.

Setting of prison planet is expertly captured, but robots and giant tank dubbed Iron Tortoise kinda spoils things.

The same alien is repeated for the majority of boss battles and their 'boss' is eventually drowned in hot lead and finished off with sprinklers.

Okay, that happened.

Actual end boss isn't the Queen, as 'an unidentified man' (presumably Bishop II), isn't best pleased when you don't have the alien samples necessary to develop bio-weapon.

Check out transcript of fucked up ending.

As time passed, all records of the fearful incidents were erased.

The facilities were closed down and almost all was forgotten.

(Company members open fire).

Two names were deleted from the name list of the colonial marine.

No one knows whether they are dead or alive.

End of transmission.

My brain is more scrambled than eggs.

Alien Trilogy, Probe 1996 (PS1, Saturn and PC)

Nice looking and sounding FPS made a decent job of recreating atmosphere, but while fighting Queen in Aliens (albeit without power loader) is acceptable, repeating the feat in Alien and Alien 3 is fucked up.com.

At level's end, 32 character long passwords are generously given.

Which dickhead thought it necessary to have player waste so much time?

In Alien 3, her majesty has to be destroyed so prison can be rebuilt for other offenders.

Bizarre.

We tackle Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien (in that order).

What the fuck?

Alien: Resurrection, Argonaut Games 2000 (PS1)

Film was TERRIBLE, but game fared much better.

Player switches between Ripley, Christie, Call and DiStephano, with each having different abilities, as Call carries a motion tracker and Christie imports his twin pistols.

Xenos hunt in packs and display surprising intelligence.

High difficulty reduces enjoyment and stages get unnecessarily long very quickly.

Gary Dourdan, Raymond Cruz and Steven Gilborn return to provide voice talent for Christie, DiStephano and ASM Auriga AI respectively, but Ripley (Lani Minella) and Call (Theresa Rizzo) stand in for Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder.

Miscellany

Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure, Cryo Interactive 1995 (PC)

Loosely based on various Dark Horse comics, point and click stars ex-Colonial marine Lt. Col. Hericken (an obvious nod to Lance Henriksen).

Voice acting and characters may be appalling, but decent graphics and CG sequences compensate.

Combat makes blood boil and changing discs during gameplay is 'rather' inconvenient.

If you don't eat on a regular basis, expect to die of starvation.

Fuck you game.

Aliens Online, Kesmai and Mythic Entertainment 1998 (Windows)

Marine or Alien?

You decide.

FPS MMO had numerous maps and faction gradually improved by scoring points.

Servers closed down in 2000.

Aliens: Thanatos Encounter, Crawfish Interactive 2001 (Game Boy Colour)

During platoon's return to Earth after a training mission, ship's computer Mother, picks up a distress beacon from the space freighter Thanatos.

Mother receives orders from Marine headquarters to wake grunts from hypersleep and investigate.

Cpl. Brooke, Cadet Jorell, Private Vinora, Private Shiro and Private Chayton are differentiated by speed and stamina.

Most missions demand to rid dumb xenos from each area and rescue all survivors.

Snore snore snore.

Even the power loader can't prevent boredom.

Passwords are given after each level and player isn't forced to remain as current marine.

Turgid top down adventure just feels like a shittier version of Alien Breed.

Aliens: Extermination, Global VR 2006 (Arcade)

LED ammo readout on mounted M41-A pulse rifle controllers actually decrease and have force-feedback recoil.

Awesome.

Non-canonical sequel has marines return to LV-426 to finish off xeno population for good, but find Weyland-Yutani has reprogrammed an army of synthetic humanoids to stop anything getting in the way of company's development of lethal bio weapons.

Just for assholes and elbows, hardware is powered by a Pentium 4 computer, GeForce graphics, 512MB of RAM and resolution of 27-inch Super VGA flat-screen monitor is 800x600.

Choose from any one of four* hardcore missions (Bug Hunt, Seek & Destroy, Stronghold and Extermination), and apart from obligatory Queen encounter, Renegade Loader, Alien Dragon and Sat Com Tower provide boss battles.

*'Fifth' stage Self Destruct is just an excuse to pummel Queenie for 90 seconds before escape is secured.

For the time, graphics were state of the art, but on-rails shmup is largely unfair as xenos largely overwhelm and shooting CPU marines saps health.

Aliens Infestation, WayForward Technologies 2011 (DS)

The USS Sephora discovers the Sulaco floating in space and Marines are sent to extract and return sign of life detected on board.

To start with, four set marines are playable, and only one can be controlled at any time.

If squad is wiped out, well...

Fifteen more can be stumbled upon and if implanted, ass has 5 real-time minutes to perform rescue.

Each possess unique dialogue, idle animation and distinguished by colour.

Members can be swapped inside various safe rooms scattered around the Sulaco, where you can also save, switch weapons and restock ammo.

Lots of back-tracking and exploration screams MetroidVania and hostility ranges from rogue U.P.P. (Union of Progressive Peoples) soldiers to xeno hybrids.

Derelict can be seen during APC attack and we go against a Jockey Xeno inside.

Mixing things up, Queen Mother (probably) on the Sulaco provides final encounter.

Extras contains back story of each marine encountered and while pointless, I defy anybody not to give knife trick mini-game a whirl.

Holy Light of Demons (once known as Guyz Nite), perform credits song LV-426.

This is a very well crafted game.

Controls are tight, graphics more than hold their own and although repetitive, gameplay is never boring.

Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox 2013 (PS3, 360 and PC)

Discounting impressive graphics and sound, Fox approved sequel to James Cameron's film shouldn't have been made.

I'm not wasting precious qwerty time describing how unspeakably bad lump of shit was.

Why?

Because you already fucking know...

Aliens: Armageddon, Raw Thrills 2014 (Arcade)

Considering how many were published, I'm amazed subtitle doesn't share same name as a Dark Horse comic.

Here's the deal.

Xeno plague unleashed on Earth has caused near devastation and mankind's only hope for survival is to leave doomed rock behind by reaching deep space cargo ship ARK.

Four stages of relentless action can be appreciated on a gigantic 55 inch HD LCD monitor or 42 inch mounted gun version.

AR-15 style rifles having force-feedback with clip reload and alternative fire button adds strength and depth.

Weapons include flamethrower, rifles, shotguns and grenades.

Heck, you can even let rip with gun turrets.

You can either choose where to start (Chapter) or play from beginning (Story).

As you'd expect, visuals in spiritual sequel to Terminator Salvation are absolutely gorgeous.

Destroying numerous reticles is key to defeating bosses which fans of Let's Go Jungle and Deadstorm Pirates will be all too familiar with.

Hybrids, webbed huggers, tank and flying xenos are examples of regular bestiary and monstrous chestbursters and humongous aliens guzzle coins before going down.

Alien: Isolation, The Creative Assembly 2014 (PS3, 360, PC, PS4 and Xbox One)

Set 15 years after Alien, it follows Ripley's daughter Amanda, investigating the disappearance of her mother.

Protagonist was first mentioned in Aliens: Special Edition, who died of cancer, aged 66.

Focusing very much on stealth and survival, FPS is a huge departure from the staple formula we've become accustomed to.

Amanda must evade the bloodthirsty intentions of a single xeno, fight hostile androids called Working Joes and occasionally tame humans.

Finding items such as the maintenance jack, flashlight, motion tracker and system access tuner are essential to make progress on Sevastopol.

MJ is used to remove security braces from doors and SAT allows you to hack computer terminals which can disable security cameras, manipulate air purification mechanism and gain information.

Tools and weapons can be crafted in a separate menu, but require junk like scraps, charge packs, bonding agents and ethanol.

Foraging will result in the creation of medikits, pipe bombs and flashbangs etc etc.

Shotgun, bolt gun, flamethrower and pistol aren't as useful as one might think.

Amanda can save progress by inserting her access card into whichever terminal and my advice is to do this at every given opportunity.

Working Joes can be gunned down, but a far more effective strategy is to give them a prod with stun baton and finish them off with maintenance jack.

Don't even bother outrunning the alien.

In short, give bastard an inch and it'll take a fucking mile.

No weapon can physically injure or kill it, but xeno can be frightened away with flame or bomb.

After plot twists and turns, more than a twisty turny thing, daughter finds Ellen's pre-recorded message on insane Captain Marlow's ship the Anesidora, informing that following Nostromo's destruction, she's okay, but stuck on lifeboat (Narcissus), long way out.

Ripley eventually boards the Torrens, but she's forced to eject into space when an alien corners her.

Final shot sees an unconscious Ripley awake in her EVA suit when a searchlight crosses her face.

Crew Expendable* and Last Survivor plays out two scenes from 1979 classic.

*Originates from Special Order 937 and also forms part of Ripley's dialogue in Alien 3.

Five downloadable content packs were periodically released, and taking control of NPC's adds new maps primarily to Survivor mode.

Summing up

Luscious this gen graphics filled with atmosphere and dread are complemented by lo-fi distortion and retro green displays.

APOLLO is basically Mummy, and sequence of Anesidora crew finding the derelict years later sent shivers down my spine.

However...

Voice acting fails to impress and we never care about the plight of any human (including Ripley).

Taking cover and biting your fingernails is initially great, but 487 times later, it gets rather fucking boring.

Survival can be trial and error and as a consequence, you'll die time and time again.

To infuriate further, there's no auto-save and save terminals are few and far between.

Arrrgggghhhhh!

I wouldn't blame anybody for quitting altogether, but having said that, it is worth braving shit out until the anti-climatic end.

Overall, the ultimate Alien game is a stunning looking, but frustrating and imperfect organism.

Bonus round

Seems I'm on a roll, here's what happens when an Alien meets a Predator.

As xeno is never protagonist and only a playable character, most should be called Predator vs. Alien.

Hey fucking ho.

Alien vs. Predator, Jorudan Co 1993 (SNES)

In the year 2493, colonists find dormant alien eggs on planet Vega 4.

Before humans get asses handed to them, Predator ship gets wind of distress signal and decide to help, as they seek more challenging prey than humans.

The result of the first video game crossover is a scrolling beat 'em up.

Pussy face (as described by Danny Glover in Predator 2), biffs, boffs, uses trademark weapons lance, wrist blades and smart disc to cut through xenos and boss types.

Alien screams sound like farts, but sprites, bosses and intermission screens are perversely decent.

What a shame it's so depressing to play.

Alien vs. Predator: The Last of His Clan, Ask Kodanska 1993 (Game Boy)

2593.  Planet Alpha Centauri 3.

Those nasty xenos have decimated your population, except for one.

If you loathe excitement and crave boredom, look no further.

Alien vs. Predator, Capcom 1994 (Arcade)

It's criminal this was never ported to any home system.

Predator Warrior and Predator Hunter team up with Lt. Linn Kurosawa and Major Dutch Schaefer to kick the ever loving shit out of marines, infectoids (parasitized humans) and never before seen aliens.

Apart from using their own very capable weaponry, Predator(s) can give smart gun, flamethrower, pulse rifle and grenade launcher a dance.

Capcom geeks will recognise Mad Predator boss scrap to be identical in principle to facing Rolento in Final Fight.

Mindless and totally satisfying, this was the cream of genre crop.

Alien vs. Predator, Atari 1994 (Jaguar)

Few games on 64 bits shone, but this sparkled.

Alien:

Find and rescue Queen to make hive whole again.

Mouth, claw or tail attacks, and cocooning enemies (which eventually hatch), regains health.

Predator:

Claim Alien Queen's skull.

Points are pertinent to obtaining weapons and lost when killing without honour.

Lance, scimitar, energy based projectiles and infra red vision make job easier.

Marine (Private Lewis):

Locate and launch escape capsule.

Expect to unload from the barrels of classic weaponry.

System's magnum opus?

I'd say so.

Alien versus Predator, Rebellion Developments 1999 (PC)

Note this is first not to abbreviate 'vs'.

What's the bastard point?

Three species battle for survival.

Scale walls as alien, lock and load as marine and stalk and hunt as the Predator.

Like Jag game, each have their own agenda.

Civvies are easy pickings, but 'predaliens', mechanical aliens and androids put up more of a fight.

Problems include no crouch button, disorientating camera and short campaigns.

Most fucked up was the need to download patch to save game in-level.

Gold Edition addressed multiplayer issues, but FMV left an embarrassing taste.

Alien versus Predator 2, Monolith Productions 2001 (PC)

Graphics are given a kick up the ass, but beefy machine was needed to appreciate Lithtech engine.

On LV-1201 where xenos have wiped out another alien civilisation, all hell breaks loose when a researcher is impregnated.

Game picks up shortly after and each character's story intersects.

2002 expansion pack Primal Hunt added new missions and back story to main course, with single player campaign serving as prequel.

Contrary to what box states, the infamous Medallion does NOT include Primal Hunt and literally just a repackaged version of AVP 2.

Gold Edition did bring both together.

Alien versus Predator: Extinction, Zono Incorporated 2003 (PS2/Xbox)

Real-time strategy had numerous campaigns for each faction and units must be upgraded for new abilities.

Limited, but different.

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Rebellion Developments 2007 (PSP)

Devoid of personality and combos, charmless button masher set in Gunnison, Colorado can kiss my sweet ass.

Controls are terrible and xeno AI couldn't outwit a dead slug.

Alien vs. Predator, Rebellion Developments 2010 (PS3, 360 and PC)

Considering this was a sequel to AVP 2 - what a stupid fucking title.

Opulent and bloody gory, it's a case of same shit, different story.

Hunter Edition included facehugger model, lenticular card and Weyland sleeve badge.

Also thrown in are four exclusive map packs:

Docks, Outpost, Machine and and Hive.

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