TERROR stalks the corridors of the spaceship Nostromo as the alien devours the crew members, inexorably, one after the other. If you thrilled to the haunting and genuinely scary movie, Alien provides an authentic recreation of the plot.
You control the crew of the Nostromo, by manipulating the characters through a series of menus. You can use a joystick to move the cursor to the various instructions. A plan of the three decks displays the current position of the character you are controlling, and reports beneath send messages concerning the status of characters or damage to the ship.
To win you must either herd the alien into an airlock and blow it into space, or destroy the Nostromo while escaping in the shuttle Narcissus.
As in the film, the characters have minds of their own and will behave accordingly, sometimes disobeying orders if they are too scared. Jones, the ship's cat, is an infallible guide to the nearness of the alien. Unfortunately, you cannot launch the shuttle without first rescuing Jones, and the cat only likes certain crew members.
Whenever doors or ventilation grilles are opened, there is a corresponding whoosh from the Spectrum, and an electronic tracker, when found, beeps if anything is moving in an adjacent room.
Although the graphics are symbolic, and the representation of the alien less than frightening, there is a tremendous tension in playing the game, and scope for extremely complex tactical decisions. When all you can hear are the sounds of the alien approaching, panic can easily set in.
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, Sinclair
Alien is in no way to be confused with Aliens, the new game from Electric Dreams. Alien first emerged from the depths of Argus Press way back in 1984. Based on the exploits of the crew of the ill-fated Nostromo spacecraft, the game, though was panned by some reviewers was generally quite well-liked.
It's now been re-released as a budget game. Obviously, Argus (pretending to be Bug-Byte) has in no way engineered the release date to coincide with movie/game promotions of Aliens, but I dare say it's possible to conceive the odd sale being picked up this way.
The game is much happier as a budget title. At full price, the product promised too much. No matter how hard you try, it's very, very difficult to promote a computer game as being genuinely scary. The harder Argus tried, the more ridiculous things got: "Warning: Do not play this in the dark."
In fact, despite some ropey abbreviations allowing words to fit on the screen (Incineratr) and some iffy graphics, it isn't too bad. You take the role of a member of the crew, Lambert, Kane, Ash, Dallas, Parker, Ripley or Brett, in a desperate bid to rescue your spaceship from the altogether beastly alien.
As the game goes on, messages will pop up on the screen, telling you that something exciting has just happened elsewhere (Ripley sees Jones the cat).
The basic idea is to track the alien through the ducts, and blow it away by whatever means are most efficient. Blowing up the ship is quite a safe bet, but everyone gets killed, and since you die you lose a few points on the competence rating.
Alien is claimed to feature a unique personality control system. What this means is, in fact, that other characters will get a bit stroppy if you leave them to defend themselves. The more upset they get, the less likely they are to agree to one of your more lame-brained ideas.
Author: Paul Clansey
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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