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Live Blogs Let's Watch: Select Episodes of Cinematech (The Original Series)
BearyScary2013-08-14 21:40:48

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Alien vs. Predator vs. Gamer

You are one ugly mutha...

Shut your mouth!

I'm just talkin' about notable games based on Alien and Predator!

I can dig it.

Since the last installment featured the Alien Vs. Predator game for the PC, and I've played some Alien games that I really liked, I thought it would be fun to try something a little different for the liveblog – an extended addendum that talks at length about some of the games related to other games shown on Cinematech.

Alien Games

1987: A few months before they released Final Fantasy I, Squaresoft made an Aliens game for the MSX computer. The soundtrack was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. It sounds a bit too peppy for an Aliens game.

1990: Konami's Aliens was a side-scrolling Beat 'em Up for arcades based on the movie. It took some liberties with the movie by adding some new, unusual Alien enemies such as green facehuggers, and made Ripley's hair blonde (gasp!).

1992-1994: This is where things start to get good; a number of games based on Alien 3, developed by Probe Entertainment, who made several games based on the license, were made for most of the systems available at the time, and all of them were slightly different. '92 was when the Alien 3 games were released for the Amiga, Commodre 64, and SEGA Master System. In 1993, there were versions for the NES and SEGA Genesis.

The Genesis version had Ripley running around the prison planet Fury 161 trying to rescue prisoners before they get their chests burst by baby Xenomorphs. It does not look or sound quite as good as the Super NES version, also made by Probe, but is still considered a good game in its own right.

The NES version is basically a slightly stripped-down port of the Genesis version. The platforming controls are a little stiffer and the time limit to save all the prisoners in a stage is even more strict.

The SNES version (1993) is often considered the best. It is a side-scrolling action game where Ripley can use classic weapons such as the pulse rifle and flamethrower (they took some liberties with the fact that Fury 161 colony did not have any real weapons), and across several sprawling levels, can locate and complete various objectives. It is a pretty hard game, but an interesting one. Even if you have to use (ahem) means to play it, I recommend doing so if you like Alien or just good, classic, side-scrolling games.

An interesting thing about the Alien3 games is that the NES, Genesis, and SNES versions all have different endings. The NES and Genesis versions have good endings that basically say, “Congratulations! You killed all the Aliens!”, but the SNES version... oh, man, of all the ports, the SNES version recreates the Heroic Sacrifice Downer Ending of the movie.

1993: Alien 3: The Gun was a light gun game for arcades by SEGA. It was pretty distantly removed from the plot of the movie, as it starred two members of a team sent to rid the Sulaco and then Fury 161 of Aliens. This game is unusual to me because I had never heard of it for years, probably because it was an arcade game. The Aliens look decently scary in this game. One of the bosses is a "Super Face Hugger". Heh.

1995: Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure by Mindscape is a pretty unusual Alien game that, despite the title, is not related to the original Aliens movie. Instead, it is based on one of Dark Horse's comic books. The story has a Colonial Marine leading a team in an attempt to investigate a distress call received from a remote mining outpost.

Details on this game are pretty sparse online. The game got some pretty critical reviews, which probably explains it obscurity despite the license. Most of the blame goes to the juvenile writing and the Scrappy Mechanic of having to keep your characters fed. But this video made up of some of the scenes from the game features a bad guy who has an intriguing viewpoint on the Aliens:

”An animal capable of surviving under any conditions, adapting to any situation, and all united for a common cause? Aliens have never massacred millions of their own in the name of some theory. Aliens won't kill you just because you happen to be Jewish, black, Indian, or simply different from them. Aliens have never destroyed whole planets in the name of progress and civilization. It never forced anyone to think as they do, and most of all, Henrickson, they have never produced an imbecile of your caliber.”

The sad thing about all this is, he's not wrong, per say. But the Aliens are still evil and driven purely by survival. They may not have our capacity for targeted hate, but they sure as hell don't have our capacities to love or to create, either.

1996: Alien Trilogy, another great Alien game made by Probe and published by Acclaim, this was an FPS that used an engine similar to Doom. It took several liberties with the original storylines of the games, using Ripley's likeness from the third movie and making her a Marine sent to the colony on planet LV426 to find out why it's gone dark. The game had her going through three arcs with a Queen Alien as the final boss of each.

AT was released for the Play Station, SEGA Saturn, and PC in 1996. It was one of the first Play Station games we had and it blew us away. Even today, the darkness of the game and the moody soundtrack allows it to generate a tense atmosphere. It's a hard game with a lot of levels. My personal favorite Alien game.

2000: Alien Resurrection: This game had a bit of a Troubled Production. It was conceptualized as a third-person survival horror game that was supposed to be released around the same time as the film in 1997, but developer Argonaut scrapped that idea and started the project over with a Genre Shift to first person shooter. It was eventually released for the Play Station and PC, but the SEGA Dreamcast port was cancelled.

The game was not a financial or critical success, getting mixed reviews. But I remember the game getting praised in magazines for its scare factor. Even the intro is pretty disturbing, showing Ripley-8 rocking back and forth in her cell.

The game had a certain gameplay element that was mocked in reviews, however: the player character could get impregnated by face huggers, causing a meter to fill showing how much time was left until the embryo hatched. If the player didn't have an item called a Portable AutoDoc to remove the embryo, the result was predictable.

2011: Aliens Infestation, a Nintendo DS game co-developed by Way Forward and Gearbox. Taking place between the second and third movies, this Metroidvania style game has you controlling a squad of up to four Marines (out of 19 overall). The game actually features permadeath as a gameplay element, so you'll probably need most of those Marines. Their character portraits were drawn by veteran comic book artist Chris Bachalo.

2013: Well, I guess it had to end with the most recent Alien game: Aliens Colonial Marines.

In December 2006, SEGA announced that they were going to publish two new Aliens games. One was to be an RPG called Aliens: Crucible developed by Obsidian (one of my favorite lower-profile developers), and the other was to be an FPS called Aliens: Colonial Marines (not to be confused with a previously canceled Aliens FPS for the PS 2 of the same name ) by Gearbox. Unfortunately, the Obsidian RPG was canceled. And the FPS? Well...

This story on Kotaku alleges that Gearbox handed development of the single player campaign over to Timegate (developers of Section8) while they worked on Borderlands2. Timegate threw away four years of work that Gearbox had already done on the game by the time the project was handed over to them. Then, in late 2012, when Gearbox saw what Timegate had accomplished, or lack thereof, they decided to step in and fix what they could before the game had to come out. In this story, Gearbox looks more sympathetic than Timegate. A further article frames the sad story of the game as a “he said/she said/they said” between Gearbox, Timegate, and SEGA.

Through patches and the Stasis Interrupted DLC extending the storyline, the game has scraped together a bit of redemption.

Personally, I think it's very disappointing that, despite all this amazing technology at their disposal, developers are making worse Alien games than they were 20 years ago. In a sad case of What Could Have Been, I think Obsidian's Aliens: Crucible RPG could have been really good. An Aliens RPG/shooter with choices like Alpha Protocol? Yes.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive with demos way above spec for the consoles that the game is supposed to be released on!

It would appear that, to some, the Medal of Dishonor title for Anti-Game of the Year 2013 was a fight between A: CM and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, until something far more leathery came over the horizon: Ride to Hell: Retribution, a Beat 'em Up with a biker theme and bugs to rival Big Rigs Over The Road Racing (GameMill, PC, 2004). It took its name too literally and rode all the way into consideration for worst game of the console generation.

Pre-patch, the Aliens in the game don't have the best AI, leading to this short video.

ProJared was extremely disappointed in the game. You can see it in his face and body language in this extended video which is actually called “Extended Thoughts/Rage”, unlike any of his other extended reviews. To emphasize this rage, he uses some harsh language, making the video a little NSFW.

Angry Joe did a long review of the game where he gave it a four out of ten. He seemed disappointed, too, but still gave it a fair review, talking about what he did like about it and revealing his geeky passion for Aliens.

Predator Games

1989: One of the first Predator game was a surreal side-scrolling action/platformer by Pack-In Video, a Japanese developer that was somewhat famous for making some odd licensed games. It was released for a variety of gaming computers and, most famously, the NES. The final boss is a disembodied Predator head that flies around and attacks Dutch. Weird Video Games made an in-depth review of the game.

1991: Predator 2 for the Amiga. It has a perspective like the NES Punisher game where a transparent sprite of the main character is in the middle of the screen and shows him rotating as you aim at enemies.

Alien vs. Predator Games

1994: It's easy to forget that Capcom (and some other Japanese developers, like Treasure) made several extremely good licensed games, based on everything from Disney properties like Duck Tales and Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers to Dungeons And Dragons, and, most relevantly to this installment, Alien vs. Predator for the arcade. It was a beat 'em up where up to three gamers could play as four different characters (smaller editions of the game could only accommodate two players at once):

  • Major Dutch Schaefer, a big, buff Colonial Marine humanoid cyborg modeled and named after Dutch, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from Predator. Has a smart gun attached to his arm. The big power character of the game.

  • Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa, another human cyborg that uses a pistol and a Japanese katana sword. Also uses martial arts in battle. Faster than Dutch. Had cameos in later Capcom games and Namco X Capcom (2005, PS 2).

  • Warrior Predator, a more experienced Predator with balanced attributes.

  • Hunter Predator, the younger of the two Predators. Has a more powerful jumping dive attack.

This is another game I've never played, but I did read about it in some game magazine back in the day. Maybe it wasn't as popular as some of their other arcade games at the time; The game has never been rereleased or ported, but Capcom recently remade some of their old licensed games like their DnD beat 'em ups and Duck Tales, so who knows... Maybe they could renew the license for this game, too.

1994: Alien vs. Predator from Rebellion for the Atari Jaguar, a first person shooter where you play through one of the three campaigns: Alien, Predator, or Colonial Marine. This was a biggie, often considered one of the best games for the Jaguar, and one of the scariest games of its time.

2003: Alien vs. Predator: Extinction, a real time strategy game for the Xbox and PS 2. Like other AVP games, it let you play as one of the three factions. The Aliens got new units by impregnating other species with their face huggers, and the resultant Alien depended on the type of host it was implanted into. Gruesome! I remember seeing the game's review on Xplay, where one of the clips showed Marines barfing up black stuff. Was that the result of some Alien embryo elimination? Ew.

Other Stuff/Links: Kimble Justice's review of the Genesis version of Alien3

Showcase of all Alien games up to 2006. Does not include any AvP games.

Showcase of all Predator and AvP games, except for Extinction

From Cracked: "4 WTF Moments from the 'Aliens vs Predator' Cartoon for Kids". Worth reading to the end, which features an unauthorized AvP comic...

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