Friday, June 17, 2016

1PanelReview Alien 3 (NES)

On Nintendo, no one can hear you scream...

What it is: Alien3 (NES) or simply titled Alien 3

Which is: A sidescroller/run & gun/action game
Created by: Probe Software/LJN 
Year: 1993
Available on: NES

Back when people though adapting horror movies into 8-bit NES games for kids was a good idea (see Freddy and Jason), the Alien and Predator licenses also received a similar treatment. Loosely based on Alien³, this videogame shares very little with the eponymous film. This gaming adaptation was created by one of my favorite developers at the time, Probe Software. Another different Alien 3 game was release on the arcades, but that one was a rail shooter by Sega titled Alien 3: The Gun. Probe's title is at first look your standard action game you'd expect based on a movie propriety. But it's one that not only does the job but excels beyond what you'd expect. It was released for most game systems at the time. Either distributed by Acclaim, LJN, Virgin and Arena Entertainment. The first available versions of the game were on the Amiga and Master System. Many others followed such as the famous NES port as well as the 16-bit powered ones on the Mega Drive and the SNES.
Alien 3 appears to be mostly based on the earlier drafts of the movie, or at least improvised from the little to no material Probe had available to make their game tie-in with the film's release date. Since the game seems to feature scrapped details that never made it to the big screen. The story follows roughly the same guidelines, but shouldn't be taken at face value since it has so little to do with the gameplay. Ellen Ripley is the sole survivor of the events depicted in Aliens. Her shuttle crash-landed on a strange new planet, killing the other survivors Newt, Hicks and the android Bishop in the process. But thing is the Xenomorph creatures survived along. An egg or two were aboard the shuttle. An alien found its way on this prison/colony planet Fiorina 161. Now the colony appears to be crowded by an Alien invasion! Xenomorph everywhere!

What's Good about it: While the concept and the gameplay between each ports of this game remained mostly the same, each version slightly varies from one another. The NES port is no different, it has the same overall gameplay as the Sega and Commodore versions, only here we have a unique set of levels.
You control Ripley against hordes of Xenomorphs. The objective is to find and save prisoners from the Aliens, reach the exit, and all that under a tight time limit!
While the game is called an Alien 3 video game, the premise takes a lot of elements from Alien and Aliens, particularly the weapons you have access to. Such as the pulse rifle, a flamethrower, etc. 
The game is one of the earliest examples of an action/survival horror game in my eyes. You have very limited ammo and restricted controls, and a set of really difficult objectives to perform freely around huge maze-like stages.
There's some strategy to it. The pulse rifle cannot be used freely since it overheats, you should only use it in short bursts.
You can also detect movements on the motion tracker radar, such as nearby Xenomorphs and the next location of prisoners.
Every two levels you get a though boss fight.
Aliens are though pretty fast enemies. You can always try running away to find another strategy. There are annoying facehuggers everywhere.
The game has lovely colorful graphics for a NES title.
And finally really fun catchy kickass music, a great sountrack!

What's Bad about it: It's kind of odd when you stop to thing about the premise of this game, really. The goal is to save a bunch murderers and psychos from Aliens under a time limit. And your reward for all this? An Alien burst out of your chest (thanks to the film's bad storyline!).
If I was to have any real complaint about this one is that it's kind of annoying and counter-intuitive how this game uses reversed controls. You jump with the B-button while you shoot with A!! Outrageous!

Overall: Alien 3 is a really good game for the NES! All thanks to Probe!

This one is really one of the rare good licensed titles from LJN, a much better game than most of their other movie-based games. The only explanations I have for this... is that's Probe's game, really, which was published by a handful of different publishers depending on the system.

The game is hard but with a good difficulty level. It's fun, challenging and requires some actual thoughts and skills. And it's gorgeous to look at! Recommended for any Alien and NES fans looking for a fun run & gun-type of action game.

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