Genre: Action Developer: Probe Software Publisher: Arena Ent. Players: 1 Released: 1992
I’ve played through a bunch of Mega Drive games over the years, and I still love Alien 3. Everybody has a game of their own that they once in a while plug in to play just to get back some of the old days of glory, just revisiting childhood moments, or just because it’s a damn good game and challenging. Alien 3 is that game for me.
I’d almost think that no explanation is necessary about what the game is about because everybody seems to have seen at least one Alien movie, but for those who didn’t have the chance to watch one or were hiding in their bomb shelter, here’s a little info on what’s happening. Ripley, the lead character of the game, has crashed on the planet Fiorina 161, the inhabitants of which are criminals and misfits of society. There’s also an alien onboard the ship, and it’s inside Ripley. For some reason, there now happens to be a ton of them on the loose as well that she has to catch.
While dodging the nasty aliens, Ripley has to navigate the claustrophobic stages to rescue prisoners who have been cocooned. Saving them from a face-hugger fate is paramount, and each new level represents a different sort of challenge from the last. There are some stages that represent areas from the movie, but there are also areas that I didn’t see in the movie, like the slaughterhouse and alien spaceship. Honestly though, who cares? The levels are awesome to look at, and while the movie had only one alien, there are now hundreds. More target practice for me! It’s true that the game might take some real liberties with the source material, but when you’re tasked with gunning down xenomorphs, which are such cool bad guys, I’m willing to give it a pass.
Ripley starts with four weapons: a machine gun, a flame thrower, a grenade launcher, and some hand grenades for good measures. She’s got the goods, so let’s start blasting! She also has radar where you can see where the prisoners are that are caught by aliens. Ripley’s working on a time limit, and she has to hurry to find all the prisoners or else the player is served with pictures of them where xenomorphs are bursting out of their chests. When all the prisoners are found, players also have to find the exit before the time expires, and that’s sometimes a real problem.
The controls are smooth, and Ripley responds great. Jumping is almost flawless, as is switching from one gun to another. To tell you one thing, nothing gives me as good a feeling as blasting a grenade into the mouth of one of those aliens and hear them scream when they die. A good burst of flame will also do nicely. However, the machine gun is my favorite in the game since it’s easy to handle and not as slow as the grenade launcher (thought it’s less effective). It will do the trick in most parts until you confront the bosses and you have to switch to the grenades, which, along with the grenade launcher, are also handy when Ripley’s in the air shafts. Find an alien down there and just throw one it of those babies!
Fun notwithstanding, Alien 3 is everything but easy beyond the first few levels. After the first three you enter the slaughter house, and then it’s a real pain to get through some of the later stages. It will make you scream sometimes when just as you find all the prisoners, you notice that there are only ten seconds left to find the exit. Yeah, well you’re screwed because there’s no way that you’re going to find it in time, and you’ll have to start all over again.
The levels look great, and there’s great detail everywhere. Ripley looks just as she did in the movie, bald head and all. There is a total of fifteen levels, and after every three there’s a boss. There are two or three levels where there are no prisoners, and you only have to find the exit in time and collect as much ammo as you can. The game also has plenty of secret spaces and shortcuts, which can help you greatly.
Through it all, the audio keeps players on their toes. The sound fits right in, such as a heart pound beating when you run through the alien ship, or when you’re in a boss fight or when you’re running out of time and have to search for the exit. The music really pumps up, and it’s just great.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game. Yes, it’s hard sometimes, but the audio and the atmosphere keep me coming back every once in a while. Alien 3 is just the kind of game that has you returning to it, even though it’s not loaded with secrets to unlock. That’s because it’s just so much fun to plug it in your machine and play it a little while just to blast some aliens into oblivion. Some gamers will find it too hard perhaps, but I think it’s just the way the game has to be. Alien 3 can be had quite inexpensively, so grab one and enjoy the heart-pounding music while you search for the prisoners.
SCORE: 7 out of 10