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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.

Atari and Midway will notably develop a similar game, Maximum Force a couple of years later.

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.
  • Boss Battle: The Kronn mothership at the end, which also has the player fighting endlessly spawning Kronn soldiers.
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out: Shortly after you board a jeep driven by a surviving soldier from the initial outbreak, you are then transported to the military offices while facing multiple jeeps containing zombified soldiers, all of them which fire at you from behind their vehicles, and you have to gun them down while riding shotgun.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Happens when you destroy the Kronn mothership at the end.
  • 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.
  • Easter Egg: There's one where if you shoot certain objects you get sent to the developer room.
  • 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.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Before full fledge Kronn soldiers are encountered there are infected staff members of the base the player mainly fights.
  • Exploding Barrels: Occasionally reveals power ups, always adds to your score.
  • 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.
  • First-Person Ghost: Your protagonist's body isn't shown.
  • 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).
  • Full Motion Video: There are lots of actors filmed for sprite clips for the game.
  • Fun with Acronyms: S.T.A.A.R. Team.
  • 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.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Every enemy has a scripted death animation of turning into gibs when defeated.
  • Missing Backblast: A lot of enemies use rocket launchers that apply.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Different because they can use guns and grenades.
  • Power-Up: Shooting the radioactive symbols that look like atoms gives you better weapons.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: This game contains A LOT of them, like the warehouse portions of the base.
  • 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.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The shotgun is the highest tier weapon the player can upgrade to which is the most damaging and had the best spread.
  • Shout-Out: The Attract Mode has a small tidbit on STAAR going to Antarctica to destroy alien biology and tech.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Oh this game has a lot of this, with barrels, jerry cans, vehicles and more.
  • The Nameless: The protagonist is just a STAAR trooper like any other.
  • 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.
  • Time-Limit Boss: The Final Boss of both games:
    • The end of the first game has you confront an alien probe which requires you to do enough damage to it before it escapes. If you succeed, it flies off and explodes in space. But if not, it escapes and you get the bad ending.
    • For the second game, you must take out the alien Queen within the time limit. Fail to defeat her, and she'll automatically kill you.
  • Video-Game Lives: You have these represented as boxes with the medic cross in them.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The jeep driver who picks you up in the second level loses control of his vehicle and it plows into some gas tanks. What happens to him next is unknown.


Area 51

And then the player character was an alien.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

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