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Video Game / Aliens: Infestation

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Aliens: Infestation is a 2011 side-scrolling Metroidvania game set in the Alien universe, developed by WayForward Technologies (of Contra 4 and Shantae fame) in collaboration with Gearbox Software for the Nintendo DS.

18 weeks after the Colonial Marines sent a distress call for backup in Aliens, a backup team from the U.S.S. Sephora arrives near LV-426 and finds the Sulaco adrift in space. A group of soldiers, including Captain John "Duke" Cameron, Private Brock "Bear" Paulson, Private Buddy "Brando" Whistler and Lance Corporal Samantha "Homewrecker" Johnston are dispatched to the derelict ship, where they discover that a group called the Union of Progressive Peoples (UPP) have boarded the ship and are attempting to harness xenomorphs, who are subsequently attacking them. After the Marines deal with the UPP soldiers aboard the ship, they travel down to the surface of LV-426 and discover a xenomorph hive, as well as several friendly Marines trapped in desperate circumstances. It's up to the core group to rescue their fellow soldiers and destroy the alien presence on the planet once and for all...

The game originally began life as a handheld port of Aliens: Colonial Marines for the Nintendo DS, but was subsequently changed into a standalone product due to the latter title's Troubled Production. It bridges the plot between Aliens and Alien³, as well as incorporating story ideas from William Gibson's unproduced script for the third film (namely, the Union of Progressive Peoples).

Most of the tropes applicable to the Alien franchise in general, as well as Aliens specifically, also apply here, for obvious reasons.

Tropes appearing in this work include:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Used prominently across all the levels. Expected of LV-426, as the movie has shown that the colony had these in spades, but somewhat unexpected on the Sulaco, where space was supposed to be an issue preventing fitting in air vent spaces you can hide a building in.
  • All There in the Manual: Unless the player is aware of Gibson's unproduced script for Alien³, the game doesn't explain who the UPP are or what the acronym even stands for.
  • Anyone Can Die: The team roster is actually an interesting take on the multiple-1up system. Because every one of your "1up"s has a name, a face, unique animations and unique responses for every single situation in the game, it feels like a combination of Anyone Can Die and Video-Game Lives. The game keeps score of how many Marines you've lost this way.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: While safety in numbers would be a sensible solution to fighting off the Aliens, only one Marine is playable at a time, and there can be no more than four Marines in your squad; trying to recruit a fifth Marine will have them refuse. Sometimes their reasons are understandable (usually "looking for their former comrades"), other times... not.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Inherited from the parent title. The traditional inconsistency of the alien gestation cycles is still here — the Marines have been on the Sulaco for a matter of hours by the time the first of them get chestbursted, and the replenishment drones that appear on the Sulaco after the Corporation ferries some eggs from the planet onboard mature surprisingly quickly.
  • A Space Marine Is You: As expected from a game based on the Space Marine-centric Aliens.
  • BFG: The M56 Smart Gun fills this role - it is slow to set up, takes a while to reload, but it turns everything in front of it into fine paste in no time.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Can be played straight or averted, depending on who your first casualty is.
  • Cat Scare: Multiple uses, including several featuring actual cats. Which is funny, considering that there were no cats in the movie besides Jonesy, who got left at Gateway Station.
  • Ceiling Cling: The xenomorphs have no reservations about attacking from above. For some reason, this makes them more resistant to the flamer.
  • Colony Drop: Attempted with the Sulaco, à la Alien: Resurrection.
  • Continuity Nod: Numerous, seeing as how you revisit most of the first two movies' locations.
    • Most of the battlecries (said when you pick up weapons and weapon upgrades) of the Marines are quotes from the movies or riffs on them.
      Whistler: "Game over, bugs, GAME OVER!"
      Henick: "Achieving peace through superior firepower!"
    • When deploying on LV-426, you can see the leftovers of the movies' action. Less so on the Sulaco, but you do visit a few iconic locations there as well.
    • Activities, such as driving a power loader.
    • Or dumping a Queen out of an airlock in a boss battle.
    • Ever wanted to see what a Monkey-grown Xenomorph would look like? What about a Space Jockey one?
    • The battle robots bleed white, something to be expected in the movies' universe.
    • Various bits of William Gibson's unused Alien³ script are integrated into the story, such as the Union of Progressive People taking the Sulaco over, and becoming fodder for a new wave of xenos, providing variety to the opposition encountered by the Marines.
    • The Knife Trick mini-game. Guess what it's about?
    • The end credits feature the title theme of Aliens...
    • And an Expository Theme Tune called "LV-426", mostly made up of quotes from the movie.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Generic Company Man, as he introduces himself.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight. There isn't even any indication of heavy wounds for the player characters.
  • Expy: Pretty much every Marine is an Expy of either an Aliens character or a Space Marine from some other franchise.
    • Henick looks and acts like an expy of Hicks.
    • Johnston acts a lot like Vasquez.
    • Heston looks suspiciously like the Doom guy. Or Wolverine, your pick.
  • Expository Theme Tune: In the end credits.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Facehuggers will try to do this to you, resulting in Press X to Not Die. You also see the occasional aftermath of these, both in-progress and already finished.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: As a shout-out to the film Aliens, there is a playable mini-game where you get to imitate Bishop and stab a knife in the spaces between fingers.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: One of the alien queen boss fights goes down this road.
  • Hub Level: The Sulaco ultimately serves as this for the game's story.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Partially averted. You can only carry one big gun with you, and a set amount of ammo for it (expandable for some guns via upgrades). The rest of your kit is mostly realistic - a sidearm, flares, grenades, detpacks, motion sensor note  and whatever Lock and Key Puzzle components you have amassed. At the beginning of the game it feels like a set of things a man (or woman) can realistically carry on their person, but once you add a pipe wrench, a blowtorch, six grenades (plus 10 underslung grenade launcher grenades for the pulse rifle) and four detpacks, it starts to stretch the imagination a bit. We can safely assume that keycards, keys and the flashlight do not take up significant space, but the air tank for the Zero-G suit sure as hell does.
  • Justified Extra Lives: You start with a four-marine team and if one of them dies, they stay dead and you have to continue with another one. However, you come across other lone marines who can join you if you are short of a full team.
  • Kill It with Fire: Among the usable arsenal is a flamethrower (with infinite ammo!). When fully upgraded, it makes a very good tool for clearing out xenomorph nests.
  • Large and in Charge:
    • The final boss.
    • Many bosses are Praetorian xenomorphs.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Blowtorches for unblocking (or re-blocking) doors, pipe wrenches for shutting off steam, keys for the Power Loader to smash crates and barricades, detpacks to blow up other barricades... All par for the course when you're playing a Metroidvania.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Killing a xenomorph causes it to burst in a welter of acid gore and spray guts everywhere. If you killed it with an explosive, those guts are also on fire. Facehuggers are completely pasted; they dissapear like snow against a high wind when shot enough.
  • Metroidvania: In a wonderful reversal, the movies that inspired the Metroid series finally get a game with action inspired by the Metroid series. This happens a lot in the video game world.
  • Mini-Game: The Knife Trick, unlocked when you reach 50% completion. Two guesses what THAT refers to.
  • Nostalgia Level: Most of the game, actually, seeing as how most of the locations you will visit have already had previous gaming incarnations.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Used to great effect on several occasions, including checking on dark areas. Pretty much a given for an Alien game. Steele will inform the player that the marine can't move on unless a light source can be found.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: When the Marines inevitably go up against Weyland-Yutani interests, the techies across the Sulaco start implementing this trope. They lurch, they move slowly, they lunge... and nobody comments on that. All the new sorts of xenomorphs get discussed at great lengths, but not the implications of gunning down what earlier seemed to be normal humans. Their white blood and dialogue from Davis before you first fight them does indicate they're Synthetics who've been given an override command.
  • Only Six Faces: Since it's Chris Bachalo, sometimes Marvel Comics artist, doing the portraits, some of them look suspiciously like Marvel character designs. As such, Heston looks like Wolverine, Fischer looks like Rogue, Cameron looks like Cable and Palms looks like Nightcrawler's human mask.
  • Palette Swap: Provides variety in the human-grown drones and allows you to discern the Marines outside of save rooms.
  • Press X to Not Die: When a facehugger or a full-grown drone will grapple you, you have to indulge in this to survive.
  • Retraux: The Knife Trick menu is deliberately Atari-styled.
  • Save-Game Limits: One save per cartridge, saving only in specially allowed save rooms. In other words, par for the course of Metroidvanias everywhere (aside from the one-save-slot limit). The traditional MST3K Mantra of Metroidvanias about replenishing health and ammo when entering one is done via a Hand Wave about how they are combined Communication (for "logging your progress") and Supply (for stocking up on ammo and switching weapons) rooms.
  • Sentry Gun: You have to survive and get around some of these set up around the Sulaco against the xenos because they don't understand the concept of IFF.
    • You get to use them yourself in the final boss battle.
  • Series Continuity Error: Hadley's Hope looks suspiciously intact, considering the protagonists of Aliens were abandoning it to avoid a nuclear blast - 16 days prior to the game's events!
    • The research base on Phobos seems to possess xenomorphs unrealistically early, considering LV-426 was the first major run-in the Weyland-Yutani Corporation had with the xenos, and our Marines are the first on the scene besides the UPP, which didn't manage to get anything out because most of them got eaten or chestbursted or both.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Type I. They kill most xenomorphs and robots and humans with a single blast up-close, penetrate cover and generally look cool. The downsides of a short range and the slow reload are negligible outside of boss battles.
  • Shout-Out: Aside from references to the movies (see Continuity Nod above), there are these.
    • PFC Chau, the geekiest of the recruitables (you find her texting "her BFF" from her bolt-hole behind a barricade of debris), is called Mei-Lin.
    • The leader of the default squad is one Corporal John Cameron.
    • Lance Corporal Williams has "Damn The Torpedoes" written on his body armour.
  • Space Marines: Duh.
  • Team Shot: Every time you enter a save room, your Marines arrange themselves into something like this.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Averted, using explosives at close range is a good way to lose a marine.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Zero-G section. Complicated jumps, with several sequences of one Leap of Faith after another, all the while fending off xenomorphs...and in a game that doesn't let you move the camera.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Can be played straight or averted depending on whether the Vasquez Expy that is in your starting team makes it to the very end.
  • Video-Game Lives: See Anyone Can Die above. A slightly bizarre implementation, where your team members all have the same gameplay abilities, only partake in the action one at a time (despite moving as a unit, the game Hand Waves this as one Marine running point), and get Killed Off for Real if you lose them, in-universe. The game keeps track of who you met, who you recruited and who got killed in the Extras section.
  • Where It All Began: You will have to pay a visit to the Crashed Alien Ship, oh yes.