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Alien (20th Century Fox)

DoctorSpuds

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I hate to say it but I’m feeling a bit lazy, so how about we pick some low hanging fruit for our review today. I’m feeling like a crappy movie tie-in game, how about that? There aren’t many to choose from, especially on the 2600, the only ones I can think of off-hand are Krull and Alien, ooh let’s review Alien! Yeah this is going to be different, I totally haven’t reviewed a Pac-Man type game before… hah hah haaah… Oh wait I reviewed Pac-Man. Screw it! I’m going to review Alien and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. Alien, a game that is so uninspired and tired that it inadvertently goes full circle and becomes original again, the objective is simple, first you must forget the entire plot of the movie, done? Good. This game is Alien in name alone since the premise is that Ripley (you) are running around the Nostromo crushing Alien eggs beneath those awesome moon boots, whilst being chased by three Aliens, wait hol’ up didn’t the movie only have one alien? Y’know what I’m questioning the story to an Atari 2600 game, I’m going to shut up about that now and move on to the graphics.

 

I hate to say it but Alien looks more like Pac-Man than Pac-Man, there are a few major differences though, the background is a dark-ish blue while the walls are a lighter blue. Some of the walls aren’t filled in which gives this game a bit more visual flare, but it’s still pretty bland. The one thing I really have to hit on though is the awful Alien sprite, I don’t know what it’s supposed to be, I’m actually stumped, it resembles a giant cartoon mouth with a furry backside and piddly little tiny string bean legs, it’s actually awful. The sprite for Ripley is all right; at least it looks like a person. I also noticed, whist staring deeply and longingly at the cartridge, that they screwed up the ‘artist rendition’ of the in-game graphics, the top half of the maze is of normal scale while the bottom half is vertically stretched, they also forgot to draw one of the little islands, there is one on the left but there isn’t one on the right. Lazy or didn’t know any better? I don’t know, but I don’t really care because I rarely ever gaze deeply and longingly at the cartridges, and after the disappointment of this one I’m liable to never do it again.

 

This game has some of the most feel-good sounds ever. We all know the iconic ‘Wakka Wakk’ sound effect from Pac-Man, Alien has its own version of that but it goes more like ‘Chukka Chukka’ (Also apparently a Chukka is a real thing, look it up. And I thought I was being original.) The sound is just so crunchy and chunky and it makes the action of running around crushing eggs even more rewarding. Screw acupuncture just play this sound on repeat and it will make anybody content and happy with their life choices. Also the sound that plays when you grab the Bonus Item sounds eerily similar to the sound in Mouse Trap (Coleco) when you grab the dog food, just a little observation.

 

This game is basically Pac-Man (wait for it) with a twist (call Shyamalan). The first little change up is that the ‘Power Pellets’ show up once at a time, when you collect one another will appear in a different spot in the maze. Ripley has her trademark flamethrower, don’t get too excited it pretty much useless, as far as I can tell it will make chasing Aliens turn around, I don’t actually know I haven’t looked at the manual, you will never use it. There is also a bonus screen to this game, to get extra points you’ve gotta play ‘Avoid the Aliens™’ it’s basically Freeway but you have one chance and if you get touched it’s on to the next maze. One thing I do have to praise this game for is its very forgiving collision detection, I’ve managed to barely avoid some near death situations by the nonexistent skin of my teeth, it creates some real tension, and is deserving of praise.

 

Now we come to the point where I either encourage you to buy this game, if you haven’t already, or condemn the game to the Collector’s Zone. There has been a weird trend with 20th century fox games and being remarkably expensive, and this game is no different, a loose cartridge will cost you over 10 dollars, and don’t even bother trying to get your hand on a complete copy, there’s a boxed copy for near as makes no difference 200$ BIN, and a loose cart with the manual for 80$. Looking at sold listings some poor fool paid 40$ for JUST the cartridge, that must have been one happy scalper. I must condemn this game, because scalpers had to go and ruin it for everybody.

 

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I frickin' love this game. Admittedly, I probably wouldn't be as high on the game if I wasn't already a huge fan of the Alien movies, but it's nevertheless one of the best Pac games on the Atari. And on a personal note, finding out there was an Alien game for the Atari was one of the main things that made me decide I needed to track down an Atari 2600 and a copy of the game.

 

I had a blog years ago that was unfortunately a bit of a false start, as I quickly learned I didn't realistically have the time to write as much as I wanted, the way I wanted, but before I gave it up, I dug pretty deep into this game. Just about everything I have to say about this game, I said there--the link to the blog is still in my sig if you're interested. :)

 

It's funny you bring up the thing about trying to get a CIB copy. I traditionally haven't been a CIB collector...but Alien is one title I would make an exception for, 'cause again...huge fan of the movie/crossover appeal/film memorabilia/etc. Guess that ship has sailed on me, eh? lol

 

(As a side note...I do know what chukkas are, and IMO every man should have a pair. They're some of the most flexible footwear there is, fashionwise. They look great with just about anything. :D )

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The ship may well come back into harbor. When the scalpers move on from TCF games, which they likely will since nobody's biting, my best guess is that they'll either try to mark up Parker Bros. games or CBS games next. Keep an eye on Amazon for boxed games, they will often have better prices for some reason. I'm torn between Alien and Jawbreaker as the 'best' Pac style game on 2600, Alien better executes the original formula but Jawbreaker has a wonderful originality that many Pac games lack and they're both stupidly expensive in-box.

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