Alien 8

by Tim Stamper, Chris Stamper
Ultimate Play The Game
Crash Issue 15, April 1985   (1985-03-28)   page(s) 16,17

Alien 8 was perhaps the most long-awaited game from Ultimate from the time of its first appearance as an advert. Due to the time scale it just missed review in last month's issue, so by now probably most fans will know all about the game and this review will be redundant. But perhaps not. Has Alien 8 caused another controversy? It looks just like Knight Lore a lot of people exclaimed, feeling obscurely ripped off. Now read, after the event (!), what the CRASH team thought about Alien 8.

But first, a brief word about the game. Indubitably, the graphics style is identical to that developed for Knight Lore, with the solid looking 3D graphics. Again, objects can be manipulated in a variety of ways to make life easier for Alien 8, a cute little robot who thinks in 8 directions but moves in four. As Alien 8 (making his first appearance in this month's Adventures of Jetman), you are aboard a starship which is slowing for its long-waited rendez-vous. The ship is full of rooms some containing cryogenically frozen beings. The object is to restore life to this chilly people before the time limit for arrival runs out. Life of course would be mechanically simple, were it not for the varied aliens penetrating the ship's defences. On top of that you must locate replacement packs for the robot, and work out what helps you to do what and when.

The rooms are necessarily more space ship-like than those in the dungeons of Knight Lore, but again blocks and pedestals are piled up in puzzling configurations, often hiding unpleasant spikes and pyramids. Some blocks move under their own power, others may be moved, and many dissolve on their being touched. As the light years tick away to zero, the pace becomes hectic...

Control keys: alternate bottom row keys left/right, A,S,D,F to move forward, Q, W,E,R to jump, top row to pick up/drop
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2, Cursor type
Keyboard play: the various key options are easy to use and response is very finely tuned
Use of colour: the single colour per room allows for good line graphics
Graphics: excellent, varied, characterful and very smooth
Sound: good
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 5
Screens: 129

'It's here and they've done it again. Alien 8 is, in its basic design, rather similar to Knight Lore. On more observation I felt it would be Knight Lore in space, but after playing for a bit this was proved very wrong. It was much more than this. In fact A8 is A1. The game is really challenging and has plenty of features and tests. Lateral thinking as well as arcade reflexes are required. The hero, Alien 8 the robot, has a personality due to his style of movement and actions. This space craft seems to be mouse ridden; perhaps Sabre Wulf could have some casual employment here; it contains clockwork mice and things I've christened 'mouleks' - half mouse, half Dalek. A useful piece of equipment to find is a compass stand which, when stood upon, controls the multi-directional robots - great for mine clearing. The support valves come in useful as a jumping platform now and again (it didn't seem to impair their ability to function when inserted in the socket). Overall Alien 8 is excellent and a worthy smash. I'm pleased to see the greater combination of thought and reflexes that this adds to the computer game. Congratulations Ultimate, again. For those who may moan that this is too similar to Knight Lore, well let them moan as they probably couldn't do better. There will many more who do appreciate it. I do for one!'

'Alien 8 looks like and plays like Knight Lore but the game is a bit of an advancement over the former game. The graphics are excellent and the sound is good too. Despite the similarity of idea, I think of the two I prefer Alien 8 as it seems a bit more playable. The game features quite a few nice touches such as the robot thing you can control when your character is standing on the cursor pods. An excellent game.'

'Many people will regard this game as having only a slight difference to Knight Lore. I cannot agree. For a start the graphics are more imaginative and pleasing. There seems to be more structure to the game, it is not so easy to just wander about, and you actually have to do things, collecting objects in order to gain access to other parts of the space ship as well as avoiding meanies and traps that are placed around the ship. The graphics are well up to Ultimate's usual standard, if not better; they are clear and well designed with continuous variation throughout. I am pleased to see that Ultimate have included a time feature urging you on to race through the game. Alien 8 is compelling and and exciting to play but does pose many strategic and thinking problems as well as arcade action. No doubt this will be another winner for Ultimate. I wonder what their next game will be...?'

Use of Computer: 93%
Graphics: 98%
Playability: 96%
Getting Started: 91%
Addictive Qualities: 97%
Value For Money: 93%
Overall: 95%

Summary: General Rating: Agreement that this is a slightly better game in most respects than Knight Lore, and therefore generally excellent.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 14, May 1985   page(s) 36,37,38


Yes, Alien 8 has arrived, the new megagame from Ultimate, and shock, horror, it looks almost identical to the last megagame from Ultimate, Knightlore - the same number of rooms, the same 3D graphics, just substitute a dinky robot for Sabreman and the Werewulf. But first impressions aren't always best as Ross Holman and Chris Wood found out when they started playing...

So now we know. The reason nobody can hear you scream in space i s ... they're all frozen stiff. Or rather they are 'cryogenically immersed', for Alien 8 comes with the same sort of instructions as Ultimate's other recent games. Enigmatic is an understatement. Obscure, opaque, mysterious or just plain unintelligable would be closer. Certainly, lots of long words and not many facts to join them together.

Much easier to pick up the gist of the plot by playing. All you need to know is that you are a robot, sorry, cybot, programmed to look after all the needs of the frozen astronauts, off on a jolly jaunt to colonise distant worlds. Unfortunately, the ship has been invaded by aliens and the life support systems have been damaged. You now have to reactivate these systems before the astronauts turn into real stiffs.

Reactivation is achieved by collecting 'thermolec valves' (different shaped objects) and plugging them into the cryogenic sockets (holes to plug in different shaped objects). With 24 chambers to be reactivated and only 5 initial replacement packs (lives), it's not a task that'll be completed first time out. You're going to have to get used to the screams of a lot of defrosting spacemen as they re-enter the atmosphere. Luckily, on the Speccy nobody'll hear them.

Any resemblance to any other Ultimate program is purely uncoincidental. And sure, you're going to think you've been conned by a clone when you first load it up. But once you're into the game you'll sec that it's much more complex than its predecessor and perfects all the techniques that Knightlore prepared us for.

So, now check out our map and start planning your movements with the microwave on legs.

Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 37, April 1985   page(s) 23

THE ROBOTS are back in the latest game from Ultimate, creators of Sabre Wulf and Knight Lore. After four arcade adventures on fantasy themes, the wizards of hi-res graphics are plundering space again.

Alien 8 puts you in charge of a large spaceship carrying deep-frozen space- men - 'cryonauts' - to a new planet. But alien life forces penetrate the ship and threaten to de-activate the refrigeration chambers. You, as the robot, must find the thermolec valve for each chamber to re-activate it.

Alien 8 is as close a copy of the very popular Knight Lore as a program can be. It uses exactly the same 'filmation' technique to show a 3D chamber in astounding definition, full of traps and objects to test and puzzles to solve.

Your character can push some of the objects around, using them as platforms, and the 3D animation extends to your character disappearing behind obstacles.

Where the game improves upon Knight Lore is in the plot and problems. In the earlier game objects had to be taken to a central room, whereas now you must ferry them to 24 different crychambers to win. That extends the number of potential solutions enormously. The individual problems are much more tightly constructed and offer greater variety. In some rooms you must shift blocks around extensively to construct an appropriate stairway; in others the solution is apparently impossible unless you experiment, whereupon a key move may send blocks sliding or even vanishing to reveal your goal.

The general quality of the graphics is slightly higher, although using an apparently identical system to Knight Lore. The character moves a little quicker as well. Fans of the earlier game will need no urging to rush out and buy it. Those who have neither game should buy Alien 8 now, and find out what the fuss is all about.

Chris Bourne

Memory: 48K
Price: £9.95
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Sinclair

Gilbert Factor: 9/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 72, March 1988   page(s) 59

As I sit here, I'm suffering from shock of a certain West end musical I have just visited which cost me an awful lot of money and I left during the interval because it was so bad. I won't mention which one it was, but only Time will heal the hole in my pocket. So I need the cash so it's back to the typewriter. This, another re-release from Richochet is an Ultimate oldie-classic. You play a cutesy little robot, who has to collect a bunch of crystals and save the space ship.

The game is presented in the (then) standard filmation 3D system with the twist that some problems in one room need an item from another room to complete them. Nice thought. All of the graphics are well designed and animation is crisp. Playability is high and the game itself is a worthy addition to any budget collector, or anybody who hasn't got it already.

Label: Mastertronic
Author: Ultimate
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Tony Dillon

Overall: 7/10

Summary: Ricochet is really on a roll this month, with yet another release of a classic oldie.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 42, April 1985   page(s) 84

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Ultimate
PRICE: £9.95

Sabre Man in Space! That's Ultimate's new hit game Alien 8. Knight Lore-style graphics and Ultimate's unique 3D Filmation technique plus lots of perplexing puzzles will make Alien 8 another instant classic.

Alien 8 is a very special robot - the guardian of the frozen cargo of a starship. The ship is a sort of Noah's Ark from another world packed with the knowledge and a few frozen members of a highly developed alien race escaping from a dead planet.

Near the end of the trip to another, safer, world, nasty aliens intrude into the dusty silent environment and threaten the success of the mission.

Alien 8 must protect the frozen inhabitants of his ship to ensure a safe landing on the new planet - and reactivate certain areas of the craft during the approach to the new world.

There are lots of Knight Lore style tasks to be performed in order to keep the cryonauts alive. Your friendly Alien 8 robot is a nice little chap and lends an air of humour to the game.

Alien 8 is another classic arcade adventure from Ultimate - superb graphics, good sound and... well, just rush out and get it. Seeing is believing!

Even as we write maps of the game are zapping across the universe on route for the C&VG offices. Don't miss next month's issue for the Alien 8 map extravaganza!

Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 8/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Star Game

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 31, May 1985   page(s) 17

PRICE: £9.95
GAME TYPE: Arcade Adventure

Alien 8 is, in every way, the follow up to Knight Lore. If you have played Knight Lore, you will know, almost immediately, exactly what is happening in Alien 8, and what to do.

The story line is complex, and well-explained. Your main aim is to move your robot around a space ship, collect various objects which have been stored in a variety of inaccessible places, and carry them to cauldrons which are waiting to receive them.

The graphics are like those in Knight Lore, perfectly drawn, fully three-dimensional rooms although, in Alien 8, they seem to have been constructed from egg boxes, and broken egg shells.

Movement is tricky, for moving three-dimensionally on a two-dimensional screen is a little difficult to grasp. Still, Ultimate make it as easy for you as they can, with a variety of movement options.

If you have never played Knight Lore, buy that before you buy Alien 8, for it is slightly easier. Alien 8 requires absolute precision and split second timing. As the clockwork mice chase you, you cannot afford to stop to think half way across a room as the ground gives way underneath your feet.

Although Alien 8 has obvious similarities with Knight Lore, it is a completely different and much more difficult game.

Alien 8 is produced by Ultimate, The Green, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.

Rating: 93%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue April 1985   page(s) 45

Ultimate Play The Game
Arcade Adventure

Forget the superficial lost-in-space flavour of the packaging, this game's more Castel Gondolfo than spaceship Nostromo. Not so much Alien 8 as Knight's Lore 2.

That said, Knight's Lore is the definitive arcade adventure and Alien 8 retains the chunky three-dimensional Filmation graphics which distinguished the original. Again you have to combine manual dexterity and a quick mind to solve the problems posed by each room before you can pick up a treasure or progress to the next chamber of the maze.

If you want to approach the game unaided stop reading now - and no sneaking a look at the maze map.

The plot such as it is derives loosely from the film. You control a robot padding around a craft carrying cargoes of deep-frozen cryonauts. Unfortunately assorted extra-terrestrials - clockwork mice, rodent daleks and the like - have unplugged the refrigeration.

To prevent your cryonaughts looking like a freezer full of fish fingers after a power cut you have to collect power packs shaped like pyramids, blocks, mushrooms and cheeses and plug them in to similarly shaped flashing sockets.

You can also use the packs as bulldozers to clear minefields or steps to help you jump higher - holding the jump key down can also help. Some of the steps vanish or sink - others are booby-trapped with an escalator effect which drifts you towards the nearest danger.

Perhaps the neatest new trick in Alien 8 is a 3D cursor pad on screen with which your android can direct another remote-control led robot to clear a safe path.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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