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20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox
With the release of Prometheus at the cinema- one of my all time favourite sci-fi franchises- it encouraged me to dig out and dust off some of my old Alien games (Alien 3 on the Mastersystem is awesome- but that’s a review for another day) including this pretty much unheard of 1982 tie-in of Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 movie Alien.
People unfamiliar with this game could be forgiven for dismissing it yet another Pac-Man clone- but they would be wrong. For starters its not a maze you’re running round in- it’s the service tunnels of the Nostromo. Secondly, you’re not collecting dots- you’re stamping on Alien eggs (presumably wearing some kind of special acid resistant boots). Thirdly you’re a human (the manual makes no reference to Ripley; you are just labelled as Human). Fourthly whilst… um…right, I can’t do this any more, o.k. it is a Pac-Man clone- but as Pac-Man clones go it’s a dam good one.
Graphically, its not amazing – you’re just a stickman and the great two mouth beast itself looks like a walking plumbers wrench. But on the plus side the gameplay is very fluid and a lot of fun to play. Other differences from the original Pac-Man format include the use of a blow torch to fight off the Alien, which is damn pretty cool. It doesn’t kill them (you still need to collect the big pill/big alien egg for that) but it does scare them off in the opposite direction, giving you time to run away. Another neat little feature of the game is the Frogger-esque inbetween round stage. Here loads of Aliens of all different colours all decide to have a party, form a conga line, and you (the Human) have 8 seconds to run across the room without being hit. Randomly fun.
Yes there have been Alien games released over the years that are (a lot) better than this. Yes, the game is hardly original and no, the game barely lives up the suspense and horror that Ridley Scott so masterfully created in his original sci-fi epic (if at all), but before you dismiss it entirely please keep in mind that the original A2600 Pac-Man conversion was so legendary crappy, you’re probably better of playing this instead- at least in this clone you get to use a blowtorch…