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Alien 8

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Released: 1985

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC

Publisher: Ultimate Play The Game

Developer: Ultimate Play The Game

If there is one thing gamers learnt in the Eighties – primarily due to the bind of cassette loading – it was the virtues of patience; that good things will eventually come to all men (and women, of course) who hang on tightly for so long that blisters appear on the palms of their hands.

So it proved with Alien 8, an Ultimate title made by the formidable Tim and Chris Stamper, with advertisements for the game appearing well before it was released. Given that it was a follow-up to the revolutionary Knight Lore, there was much hope that this would scale such heights as to maybe redefine isometric gaming so soon into its lifespan. Having to wait even a day longer than necessary was agony.

Initially, however, there was disappointment. It may have had perfect 3D colour graphics (on the CPC at least – f’nar), a huge addictive playing area and many mind/joystick bending puzzles, but sulking gamers felt it was too similar to Knight Lore in both gameplay and looks. The uncharitable sorts assumed it was merely Knight Lore in space, given our cute hero, Alien 8, was a robot.

And yet Alien 8 was a serious test of a player’s arcade reflexes, requiring a healthy dose of lateral thinking to solve the puzzles essential to the collection of the game’s vital valves. Criticism of the title thus soon subsided and gamers actually began to find Alien 8 more playable than the mould-breaking Knight Lore that preceded it.

Despite the crap sound and the slowdown, there was enough in Alien 8 to a ensure a richly rewarding experience for those who persevered in collecting and returning the circuits needed in order for the biological crew to survive.

Here you had to attempt to activate 132 cryonaughts aboard a spaceship before reaching a distant planet within a 40-day time limit. And with more than enough clockwork mice, alien egg shells and pyramid spikes to avoid as you travelled in each isometric flip-screen room, it was difficult and challenging straight away – yet purely addictive. It remains so today.

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