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Alf Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: December 31, 1989 Also On: None

Nearly everyone living in America remembers this show or has at least heard something about it. All talk about the series aside, it was inevitable someone would decide to make a game following the exploits of the main character. In fact, an earlier version was released for IBM on floppy disk, which I believe the Master System title was somewhat based on. However, since I have only seen the former and never actually played it, I cannot confirm or deny this assumption.

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The screenshots from the old PC game look pretty good, but I’m talking about the SMS version here, which is something else entirely. Once, long ago in the 80s, a devious cult worked for Sega and after several heinous rituals while listening to every single Nifelheim album simultaneously, they created this title.

Once the title screen finally comes in to view, the graphics seem promising. It’s a pretty good show, actually. That is, until you come to the game proper. The color scheme is generally nice and fairly bright, but the usage of said colors to create scenery and characters is dismal. Alf himself doesn’t look quite right, almost as though his snout is an infected maggot hanging off of his face, it’s just terrible. Combine this with dreadful scenery and plenty of glitches and you end up with a low score in the graphics category. The ending scenes are a bit redeeming, but in no way save this evil game from ice pits of the devil himself.

Music, is there any? Yes, a bit, but it’s some of the worst you’ll ever hear. Just awful, it can’t be said any other way. Basically the same irritating tune over and over, with some worthless changes here and there. The sound effects are worthless as well; it would have been just as good to simply skip them altogether. In fact, they almost did because there aren’t many.

The gameplay in Alf could have really saved the entirety, if it was done well, but poor collision detection ruins what fun there might have been. Basically, this game plays like NES classics such as Maniac Mansion, except that it really, really sucks. You have to locate different items to get to different areas and finally repair this space scooter thing so you can fly into space to rescue your friends and return home. Decent concept, just poorly done. For example, when you get into the caves, you are armed with a piece of salami. The graphics animating you swinging this worthless red chunk are poor in their own right, but couple this with the fact that the bats you attack will get hit half the distance away from or sometimes don’t get hit at all, and you’re in for a terrifying ride.

It gets progressively worse and more aggravating as it goes on, then tops it all off with the scooter stage, which has to be one of the most difficult levels ever created. It was the longest part of this horror and took me over an hour to beat simply because Alf moves too slowly and the objects to dodge move too fast. With no midway points or something and about ten minutes of flying ahead of you, you better have some sort of secret luck incantation to pray over yourself before you pop this in.

I have to get this game a bit higher marks for creativity because it generally is a creative title, taking a famous television character and placing them into a story following the feel of the series. The whole “get items to do stuff and get more stuff” concept in games wasn’t exactly dated at this time, but it wasn’t anything new with classics like the King’s Quest series, so I can’t up the score too high here. Plus, since it’s just ruined in the end anyway, what’s the point?

In all I would have to say it’s really, really doubtful I would come back to this game. If it weren’t for the space scooter level I would have considered it to see the ending, but it’s just not worth it. Even cheating and adding infinite lives doesn’t help since you can only get hit once and have to start all over again anyway. Even when you make it to the end, it will take you a bit to figure out what in the world you’re supposed to do to the moon until you realize you have to move towards its mouth for some reason. There, saved you some time if you’re sick enough to make it that far. The final level really made sure this game was one of the worst titles in history, yet again another possible reason for the Master System’s demise in America.

Alf is one of the most disappointing titles for the SMS. It really upset me when I finally played it because it could have been a really enjoyable game if the programmers took their time in the conversion or however they decided to create it. I always enjoyed “puzzle” type games and this could have been a lot of fun. As it stands, however, it is easily one of the worst games ever made and stands a close first for the worst Master System game. If not the worst, it’s right after the worst. If you’re a collector, go ahead and pick it up, it’s a fairly hard to locate NTSC title. If you thrive on terror, go ahead as well. But if you’re looking for something you’ll enjoy and come back to, stay far away from this.

Graphics: 3
Sound: 2
Gameplay: 0
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 1
Final: 2
Written by Stan Review Guide