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Alien Review

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Developer: Probe Publisher: Acclaim, LJN
Release Date: 1993 Also On:Amiga, Commodore 64, Game Gear, Genesis, Sega Master System

LJN had this thing about releasing video games based on popular movies back in the NES era. Most of them are pretty terrible overall. Alien3 isn’t exactly one of these titles, it has its good points, but overall it’s yet another example of LJN’s poor attempt at cashing in on films. Somehow, Activision and Probe got their hands on this as well. It really makes you wonder. Anyway, if you thought you were disappointed with the franchise after the second movie, this game may sadden you even more.

Alien3 has average graphics. Ripley looks horrible with this odd, limping walk and some of the worst jumping animations I’ve ever seen. And it seems she’s supposed to be holding a gun, but well, I’m not sure what it is. Awful design. The color schemes overall are fitting, at least earlier in the game. It has this dark presence that gives a good atmosphere, but only for about the first three stages. After this, my god in heaven why? After stages modeled after the movie, you get these nonsensical technoworlds with waterfalls and computers. I sure don’t remember these. There is a clear reason for this that has to do with the gameplay, because it’s obvious to me they just ran out of ideas and didn’t want the game to be too short. I’ll get to that issue in a bit, but in general the graphics are average. Ripley looks awful, the aliens look pretty good, there are some excellent between-level shots and the backgrounds are atmospheric in the beginning. It gets pretty tiresome and redundant by the end.

Hmmm, Alien3 has average music and sound as well, I’d say. Some of the music is very incidental and ambient, while other tracks are fitting but not very memorable. The sounds seem fine, no problems there really. Some of the tunes later on are slightly irritating, but I must say there were a few times when I was getting pretty in to playing Alien3 because of some of the musical scores. Other times, not so much.

In Alien3, the gameplay essentially runs like a basic platformer. You have to locate items to use and such, avoiding/killing aliens and then facing a boss here and there. However, it’s different in that you have to save a certain number of trapped prisoners on every level. Thus, you often have to plan out a strategy in order to progress, so it has this cool action/puzzle element to it. The controls are responsive, but I can say with 100% certainty that you’ll have a tough time getting used to Ripley’s jumping. Not only does it look awful, it feels awful as well. Alien3 has some of the most awkward jumping I’ve ever experienced. Ripley always seems to go a little too far or just a little too short every time you jump, which gets very irritating later on when you have to navigate several series of small platforms. Overall, though, it doesn’t sound like a bad game, and in fact I rather liked it for the first two stages. Check out a little of it for yourself before I explain the, shall we say, problems:

Ugh, Alien3 has some issues that can really get to you. When they’re bad, they’re bad. At first, finding the prisoners and navigating through the eerie levels is kind of fun, but unfortunately this is all you’ll be doing for roughly the stinking hour and a half it takes to beat. Doing the same thing over and over with more and more prisoners to locate gets really tiresome really quickly. What makes this worse is that you’re timed. You have a very short amount of time to find everyone, making finding power-ups kind of useless. In spite of the fact that there are a kabillion aliens everywhere (definitely don’t remember this in the movie), they hardly take off enough life to bother killing them most of the time unless they’re blocking a special path you need to take. You can pretty much run through it and get hit all over the place without dying. In addition, Ripley is a beast apparently when it comes to falling two million stories down and hitting into girders and such. Though it’s part of the strategy, I guess, to get around as fast as possible, she looks like a total moron spinning and bumping off of everything when you miss a jump or purposely fall down to move faster. Since it doesn’t take off much life either, what the hell? So there really isn’t anything to do in Alien3 other than quickly find each prisoner and move on. You need all of them to get out of each level and enough time to navigate through the ductwork at the end, and with the limited amount they provide forget collecting anything. Speaking of which…

The guns you get are pretty awesome, but you don’t really need them except for the boss in each stage, which is the same giant alien over and over again. You can also pick up a locator that lets you know where the prisoners are, or, well sort of. It beeps and you see little blinking dots in the lower right, but it doesn’t tell you if it’s an alien or a prisoner, so many times you get off track and have to go back to run out of time anyway. You pretty much have to know where they are exactly on most of the levels because you have no time at all to find a path and look around. Just run and don’t gun. Write that one down. Anyway, Alien3 is pretty annoying by the end. There’s no password feature and no way in hell you’re going to sit through the entire thing unless you know the levels by heart. It was actually kind of fun at first, but definitely one of the most redundant things I’ve ever played. The ending is definitely not worth the effort either.

Alien3 isn’t very creative. They could have done a lot more with this idea and perhaps made the movie look a little better in the process. Nope. The idea isn’t anything new, stuff like this existed way back in the 2600 era and even before, so the whole ‘find things in a time limit’ idea isn’t very well implemented. If it was mixed with other gameplay elements, than I’d say yes, but it’s not, just the same thing over and over. Same aliens, same dumb weapons, same falling all over everything, same lame game. Write that one down, too.

The only reason I really came back to play Alien3 was to finish it so I could write this review. If I actually bought it or got it for a present I’d be pretty disappointed because there’s no way I’d want to come back to it more than once. As for gamelength I’d say it’s too long. Heck, two stages of this is enough, let alone like fifteen or whatever it is. Talk about tedious.

Alien3 is a disappointment overall. I guess I should expect as much since the movie was so tame. If you’re an Alien fan, a fan of the NES or whatever, it’s best to avoid this title. I probably should have started often this review a bit harsher, because the more I remembered about it the more I wanted to forget. That seems exactly like the experience playing it, strangely.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 3.5
Creativity: 2
Replay Value/Game Length: 1.5
Final: 3.7
Written by Stan Write a User Review