Producer: Electric Dreams
Retail Price: £9.99
Author: Pennsoft and Soft Machine
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 Alien 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.
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