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Video Game / Area 51

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A 1995 arcade light gun game, Area 51 puts the player in the role of a member of an elite military unit called the Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response (STAAR). Their mission is to enter the titular base, shoot through a small army of zombified military and science personnel and prevent an alien race known as the Kronn from taking over the facility by triggering a nuclear device, destroying it and everything inside of it.

It was followed by Area 51: Site 4 in 1998, which improved the graphics and replaced the linear stage progression with a set of unconnected "field exercise" missions, effectively making the game both a figurative and literal mission pack sequel.

Not to be confused with the first person shooter of the same name released in 2005.


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This game provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: The Jeep driver who comes to your aid at the airfield. Apparently he was the only one to survive the initial rampage.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Activating Kronn Mode reveals the Kronn here are renegades, and you're going to stop them, human interference or not.
    • The Attract Mode reveals S.T.A.A.R. has taken down several alien attempts at invasion, ranging from minor incidents to puppet governments.
  • Area 51: Well duh.
  • Developer's Room: One of the secret room features several Buddha statues. Shooting off their heads reveals the faces of the development staff.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: Lots of stuff can be exploded by shooting it.
  • Enemy Civil War: The Kronn Hunter mode, which has you playing as one of the aliens sent to deal with the "rebels" in Area 51.
  • Exploding Barrels: Occasionally reveals power ups, always adds to your score.
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  • Fate Worse than Death: Turning painfully into a Kronn alien or being zombified into a psychotic killer by a fast-spreading infection would certainly fall under this.
  • Full Motion Video: There are lots of actors filmed for sprite clips for the game.
  • Fun with Acronyms: S.T.A.A.R. Team.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Subverted. As seen in the page picture, fellow STAAR officers will often step into your line of fire, and if you hit them by mistake, a health penalty is incurred (though doing this right in the beginning unlocks Kronn Hunter mode).
  • Government Agency of Fiction: S.T.A.A.R. is some sort of military anti-alien unit.
  • Guide Dang It!: You probably wouldn't figure out where or how to get into the game's numerous secret rooms without being told.
  • Have a Nice Death: The "Game Over" screen has one of the S.T.A.A.R. member (presumably your character) rising from death and turning into a Kronn alien then jumping toward the screen. Oddly you get this even if you win the game.
  • Historical In-Joke: As the Attract Mode reveals, Gulf War 1 and the Panama invasion were covers for destroying alien presences.
  • Hostage Spirit Link: To an annoying degree; often times one of your fellow STAAR members will step or jump directly into your line of fire, obscuring a not-insignificant portion of the screen while still allowing enemies to shoot through him and hit you.
  • Light Gun Game: Cabinets had two light guns for two-player action.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Different because they can use guns and grenades.
  • Rail Shooter: Since it's an FMV game the player has no control over movement.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Power ups and secret areas are accessed by shooting things.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Early in the game an enemy helicopter starts firing missiles that the player has to shoot down similar to the barrels below, averted the rest of the time as you can't see the bullets at all.
  • Shout-Out: The Attract Mode has a small tidbit on STAAR going to Antarctica to destroy alien biology and tech.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Utilized at certain points; enemy mooks will throw exploding barrels at you that you need to shoot out of the air before they hit you.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The jeep driver who picks you up in the second level suddenly disappears from said jeep when you try to climb up a ladder. You watch the empty jeep plow into some gas tanks.

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