Mark Eyles, designer of Back To The Future, is behind this game-of-the- film.
Back on Earth after forty years floating in space. Ripley is horrified to find that the planet where she discovered the Aliens is now being colonised. No-one believes her gruesome story until contact is lost with the colonists ... Grudgingly, she agrees to accompany a group of highly trained Space Marines on a rescue mission.
You direct that mission from the safety of the Mobile Tactical Operations Bay (MTOB), and are in command of Ripley, four Space Marines and an android. The action is viewed on a video display generated by the camera on the helmet of the character currently being controlled. You can move the sights of the Smart Gun held by the human, either to target the weapon or search the current location - the video camera follows the gun-sight.
As well as the main video display, the control console also includes a panel for each of the six team members. These individual displays include a bar read-out that monitors the life status and stamina of the explorer - as a character gets near to exhaustion the bar flashes, and it changes colour when an Alien is attacking. The number of the room currently occupied is also given on each Individual's display panel.
A press of the appropriate key gives control of a character, whereupon their portrait appears in the central control window. A bio-functions trace and a bar indicating the character's remaining Smart Gun ammunition also appear. The control window includes a counter that tots up the points collected for killing Aliens.
Characters can be moved around the complex, room by room, by using the doors - move the gun-sight over a doorway and press fire to pass through. Rapid movement can be made by requesting the character being commanded to move North, South, East or West, and he or she can move up to nine rooms in any of these directions. As soon as you switch control to another team member, your multi-room movement order is executed-providing the character you have sent off doesn't encounter an Alien, find the way blocked by a pool of acid blood or come up against a locked door...
As the team moves through the complex, Aliens start to come out of hiding. When a character enters a room where there's an Alien, a warning alarm sounds. There are only a few moments in which to blast the monster before it realises someone is there and zooms in for the kill. If the Alien isn't eliminated, it dashes up to the viewscreen and the signal goes dead as it kills your soldier.
If one of the team members who is not currently under your direct control meets up with an Alien, the appropriate status bar turns yellow. If a rescue mission isn't executed rapidly, you lose the trapped team member. Aliens may also capture one of the humans and begin impregnating their victim - again a rescue mission is needed if a life is to be saved.
Ultimately, the aim is to enter the room where the Alien Queen lays her eggs and wreak mayhem. Don't expect the Alien hordes to ignore your presence, though...
Control keys: 7 Up, 6 Down, 5 left, 8 Right, 0 Fire; R Ripley, G Gorman, H Hicks, I Bishop, V Vasquez, B Burke; N north, S south, E east, W west
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: monochrome play area
Graphics: detailed, with neat Aliens
Sound: good tune at the beginning with spot effects throughout
Skill levels: one
'This has to be the best game-of-the-film to date: it really has captured the spirit of the movie. I found it scary to play - quite often when I was faced with an Allen I actually started to sweat the strategy element of the game isn't much fun, but when coupled with the horrid slimy Aliens which crop up at the most unexpected times, the game as a whole works excellently. I can see myself playing this either until I've completed it or until I admit defeat - it is just very compelling. Go buy it, you won't regret it'
'I was really amazed when I started to play Aliens. To be honest, I thought that it was going to be a bit tacky - but ELECTRIC DREAMS have done a really good job. The only way to play this is late at night with all the lights off, and the TV extremely close to you. Basically it's just another 'stomp around the shop ' type of game - but it has got loads of extra features to bring it alive. Well worth a gander.'
'Aliens is a very good game. Doubtless it will gain a lot of sales from the film tie-in, but even in its own right its well worth playing. The graphics are very neat with the Aliens suitably represented. Bearing in mind the fact that the film is classed as being a horror, I think it could have been more atmospheric (a somewhat difficult proposition on the Spectrum!). The title tune is fair, and overall, Aliens is a very playable name. I didn't find it terribly addictive, but other than that, I've no complaints'
There are some pages in Your Sinclair where you don't go alone. Marcus Berkmann grabs his smart gun, the clever dick, and gets spaced out in Aliens.
What a way to spend an afternoon. Stalking the corridors of a deserted base on a distant planet forever on the lookout for evil multi-limbed, acid-blooded alien creatures dedicated to my swift demise. Armed only with a computer-controlled smart gun (plus legs, for running). surrounded by bio-mechanoid growths in which human bodies are entombed, impregnated with alien embryos on the verge of a bloodcurdling 'birth'... it's probably just as well that I was only playing on my Spectrum.
You may recognise this grisly scenario as the starting point for Aliens, the deep- space horror flick that burst on the scene a couple of months ago (no doubt out of someone's chest) Now, thanks to Electric Dreams, this terrifying experience has transferred lock, stock and mandibles to your Spectrum The result is a fast-moving arcade adventure that's bound to keep you awake at night well into the New Year.
Aliens the film lakes us back to that planet, the calchily named LV-426, where in the first film, Alien, the Crew of the spaceship Nostromo encountered some very unusual wildlife. Ripley has escaped her original mega-jawed foe and blown up the Nostromo in the process. Returning to Earth 57 years later (she took the scenic route), she's been written off as a complete nutter. Until, of course, a human colony on LV-426 fails to report and she's sent back to investigate.
Aliens the game follows a similar course. Safe in your Mobile Tactical Operations Bay, you control the movements of six of the film's characters all armed and ready for trouble. The aim Of the game is to regain control of the base by fighting back the alien warriors (which needs practice) and shooting away the bio-mechanoid growths as they appear on the walls. Your eventual target is the Queen Alien's chamber, deep in the most inaccessible part of the maze. (Now there's a surprise!)
Suddenly, when you-re least expecting it, BLAM BLAM BLAM and the first of your characters is doomed to a spectacularly grisly demise. Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on your idea of fun you don't get to see any of this as your video connection with the character goes on the blink.
But never mind the bits you do see will certainly keep you on your toes. The aliens themselves are ghoulishly accurate, especially when they're coming straight for you. And those slimy chunks of bio-mucus are flesh-creepingly and liberally splattered over the walls. The rooms - all 255 of them - are similar in detail, though you're more likely to see guns in the armoury, medical supplies in the medical centre and so on.
So how to kill those facehuggin' chestburstin' little critters? One shot to the head will do it, if you're quick enough, or three to the body. But don't waste ham (her? it?) in front of a door - the pool of acid blood left behind will make it impassable. Not that you'll find this a problem in your first few outings.
Aliens is enough of a challenge to keep you going for weeks/months/decades (depending on prowess). So, I reckon I'm going to be here for some time. And worse still, according to games designer Mark Eyles there's a twist in the tale for anyone who gets to the end - and isn't there always someone? But I can't tell you what it is - I never got there. And he wouldn't tell me, the newt!
Five marines, the e-xFlight Officer of a doomed space freighter, and a little girl called Newt are trapped in the colony base of a lonely, distant, planet. And all the colonists are dead, gutted by the face hugging parasites which use human bodies as disposable wombs.
This as Aliens the movie and now Aliens the game.
The base comprises a massive 248 rooms and corridors, you've got no idea where you are, and only six very vulnerable characters to control - Riply, the Flight Officer, heads the cast and Lieutenant Gorman commands the marine team of Hicks, Burke, Vasquez, and the Android Bishop.
You control the whole thing from a console which shows the strengths of all the characters their firepower and heart rate and the view through one of the video cameras worn on the helmets of each character. So you get kind of player's eye point-of-view of the base - and you can switch between your characters looking, as it were through their eyes.
So there you are with your team standing at the entrance to the base. Wait long enough and the aliens will come for you rather than the other way around. Better do something.
Choose one of the characters to move - you can only control one at a time. Push the joystick forward to go forward, left or right to turn. And the characters eye-view scrolls accordingly.
At first the base seems incredibly complex and it's difficult to work out where you're going let along how find your way back.
And just when you think you're going really well you hear the warning alarm sound. There's an alien in the room with you! As the creature comes closer the warning pitch rises and you begin to fear. Where is it? - you can't find it. You whirl round but suddenly the screen blanks out in a flurry of static and you've lost one of your team. Without even getting a glimpse of the creature or a chance of a shot. This is more difficult than I'd expected.
It wasn't long before I'd wiped out my whole team! My second attempt was better though.
The gameplay is unusual - you may think it's odd but I thought it was very effective. Basically you can play the game how you want. It is a strategy game. Or is it an arcade shoot 'em up.
It's up to you. You can zap around trying to knock off as many aliens as you can - periods of relative boredom punctuated by short bouts of nerve jangling frenzy. Shoot the aliens and zap the bio-material they create from the walls of the base as you go.
Or you can map and plan your strategy. Keep your team together and try to reach the Queen alien's chamber and destroy her.
When you switch between characters, using a key letter, the display changes with a quick sparkle of interference. All of your team have a gun so things aren't as tough a they might have been. The big problem is lining up your sights on the alien before it gets you. When it all happens it all happens very fast.
You use the smart guns for destroying aliens, face huggers, generative gooey stuff and any of your buddies who have been impregnated.
There are two ways in which you move around the base. Obviously by joystick. Find a door and press the Spectrum's space bar to get into the next room. Some doors are locked and you'll have to blast through them to continue.
Rooms are made up of several screens. You don't have to scan them all unless there's an alien in the vicinity. When the warning sounds scan the room wIth the joystick and when you catch up with its shuffling, hump-backed, body aim at it's head and fire. One shot to the head will finish it but if you hit only the body you'll need three blasts.
If you aren't quick enough the claxon builds to a scream, the alien turns and it's two pairs of jaws open to bite deep into foam, plastic, flesh and bone. I defy any player to get used to what are some of the most realistic graphics I've ever seen on the Spectrum.
You'll see even better graphics if you wait until the creature turns and gets close before firing. Its head explodes in a cloud of large, black, fragments.
You can only move one room at time using a joystick but there is another method, by which, you can move through six or seven locations at a time. When you've mapped the same fairly thoroughly you can type in the number of locations you want to move and the direction in which you want to walk. For instance 2E would take the viewpoint character two locations East without having to worry about which door in the current room leads where.
Aliens don't always kill. One of your team could be captured and prepared for impregnation. If that happens his - or her - strength bar turns yellow and you should send another team member to save that character. If the bar reaches the right side of the status window the impregnation is complete the character should be killed before the baby alien leaps from the stomach.
All this killing depletes laser power so the first destination for all the marines should be the armoury. The walls of this room are laden with guns and bombs but you don't have to pick them up. Any character who enters the room well get an increased ammo status.
Once you've been to the armoury you can visit some of the other incidental rooms. There's the Generator Room which you must keep free of growths or the bases power will fail. After you've visited all these rooms you can progress through the maze towards the queen's chamber where face huggers go into action and the whole alien operation is controlled. Once you've entered the chamber you must activate the bases's biomech device to cause the aliens to decompose. Unlike the film there is more than one alien queen and you'll have little time to activate the device with face huggers, alien warriors and queens loping and lurching after you.
Survival is difficult - to say the least - in Aliens. The best plan, though not always successful, is to move the whole group from one location to another. One character should scout ahead and if there's trouble you can destroy the troublemaker easily. I've lost a few like that, but I have also managed to explore most of the base.
Electric Dream's latest baby may be a licensing deal but there's no stigma attached to this one. It's a game of realistic graphics, limited arcade action and sophisticated strategy. The simple storyline makes for software magic.
Label: Electric Dreams
Author: Soft Machine
Reviewer: John Gilbert
MACHINE: Spectrum/CBM 64/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Electric Dreams
PRICE: £9.99 (Spectrum/CBM 64/Amstrad cassette), £14.99 (CBM/Amstrad disk)
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum
Some day a software house will capture the licence to a top film and turn it into a brilliant game. Of all the film titles currently hoping to make money from the micro, most tend to be a disappointment when it comes to the game. It's the name that sells.
Electric Dreams has scooped one of the hottest films of 1986 and, in my humble opinion, have made perhaps the best movie conversion game around. It has atmosphere - the very ingredient which made the films such winners. Remember those magic moments in the film where the whole audience seems to jump at the same time? Well I found myself jumping at parts of the game as an alien rushed at me. Great stuff!
On to the plot. Warrant Officer Riply, sole-suvivor of a terrifying encounter with an alien aboard a space freighter, has been rescued. Later she is horrified to learn that the planet where she first encountered the aliens, has now been inhabited by a colony of space engineers and their families. All contact has now been lost with the colony. The worst is feared.
Reluctantly, Ripley agrees to head a squad of elite marines to the planet. On their arrival they find the engineers' base is deserted. As night falls they find it isn't just insects that crawl out of the woodwork... It's aliens, lots of them, with slavering jaws and a mean appetite.
There are a huge number of rooms to explore and Electric Dreams has included a map to help you.
You have control of all six members of the team. At least half the screen is taken up with their details. The crew can only be controlled one at a time. Their faces are displayed at the centre of the screen. And the top half of the screen is then taken up with the view from their portable cameras.
Each crew member can be moved through doors, either by opening them or blasting them with a smart gun. It's also possible to direct the other crew members to move to certain rooms and these commands will be carried out while you can get on with other business. You soon get used to switching between crew.
As they move through the base they will find bio-mechaniod growths cover the walls. These must be blasted away. But be careful, where these growths are the chances are they'll be an alien. Although alarms sound when they're near, you may not see the monster before it attacks. Sometimes they sneak up from behind! I But more than likely you'll be able to get a few shots at the Alien. But try not to shoot him in front of a doorway. They tend to bleed a lot there and this acidic fluid will prove fatal.
Although the game isn't stunningly original in terms of an idea, you quickly find yourself being drawn into and getting absorbed in the play.
Graphically it's very nice. In fact you probably get more of an idea what the aliens look like from the game than the film.
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