|Publisher||Argus Press Software|
|Platform||C64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum|
|Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):|
|6.43 points at 14 votes (rank 519).|
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
|C64Games||6||14th March 2009 - "good" - 321 downs|
|Lemon64||7,1||14th March 2009 - 11 votes|
When suddenly a screaming alien embryo breaks out of the abdominal wall of the chief officer of the space freighter "Nostromo", the rest of the crew is also flabbergasted. But soon the horror yields to the uncomfortable certainty, that they need to find and dispose of the uninvited guest, if they want to avoid worse things to happen.
This is the bloodcurling initial situation of the well-known sci-fi shocker by Ridley Scott and at the same time the scenario in Paul Clansey's computer game adaption of the movie that was released in 1984 at Argus Press Software for the C64 and others.
The game is a realtime adventure with mimimum graphics controlled by joystick. Displayed are the three decks of the "Nostromo", a monster of a space freighter loaded with twenty million tons of mineral ore. Each deck is divided into several rooms, which are connected to each other by corridors and doors. Furthermore, there are grates in every room. They give you access to the ventilation shafts, a network of pipes that run below the rooms and corridors and are preferrably used by the alien to ambuscade the crew members. Especially brave (lightheaded) crew members can also try to crawl into the shafts, whereby only one person fits into a shaft section in contrast to the other rooms.
The task is to find the marauding alien in this chaos and hunt it down with the makeshift weapons that are on board of the merchant ship. In this it is not very helpful that the alien is supernaturally strong, aggressive and equipped with highly concentrated acid as blood.
If the situation gets hopeless you can start the self destruction mechanism of the space ship at any time and try to escape with the escape shuttle "Narcissus".
But losing load and ship will, however, be redeemed with a very low score.
Each person can take up to two items in the inventory. If somebody carries two items in the inventory list, then the one displayed at the top is the one that is currently used. So you need to take care that you have a weapon at the first position during the fight and not e.g. a motion detector or a cat box.
Each crew member has two status displays, one for the constitution and one for the morale. The constitution decreases by wounds through fighting, too severe wounds can end in death. There are only three states here: o.k., wounded and collapsed or dead.
The morale goes from confident, stable, uneasy, shaken to broken. It depends on several variables: At first, there are characters who are more stable (Dallas, Kane, Ash and Parker) and three characters that act rather nervously (Ripley, Lambert and Brett).
Added are the following factors:
- is the person alone or accompanied?
- does the person carry an effective (not improvised) weapon?
- is the person wounded?
- is the person in an air shaft?
- is the person in the same room as the corpse of a crew member?
- has the person witnessed the death of another crew member or was he/she in the immediate vicinity?
- is the alien in present?
With increasing mental strain, a character will react more hesitant to commands and sometimes take flight head over heels. Absolute overstrain can even lead to a total breakdown, which will only subsides when positive factors stabilize the morale. A single, wounded character in an air shaft that on top of it stumbles over the corpse of a colleague can for example lose his senses without further ado.
Depending on which of the two available scenarios are choosen at the beginning, the player has either six ("Full game") or three characters ("Short scenario") with which he can go on the chase for the overpowering enemy.
When choosing "Full game" you enter the movie approx. in the middle. You can choose the difficulty grade, which is determined on the basis of the strength of the newly hatched alien:
- "weak" = very difficult;
- "intermediate" = unbelievably difficult or
- "REAL strength" = ARGH!
Then the lot is drawn: Who had to play the involuntary host of the alien parasite at the beginning of the game and has therefore already met his maker. The rest of the crew starts in two groups of each three people. One group starts in the MESS on the upper deck, the other in the COMMAND CENTRE on the middle deck. From here, weapons and important pieces of equipment need to be collected, so that the crew has at least a snowball's chance in hell in the fight against the Alien.
The SHORT SCENARIO comprises approx. the last twenty minutes of the movie. Only three members of the crew are left, the rest has alread fallen prey to the alien. The most important items are already collected at the start position, however, the rest of the crew has not much of a chance, so that escaping with the shuttle poses almost the only option to end this variant victoriously.
No matter what version you choose, the happening in both takes place in real time. The alien starts at a random place in the ship and starts to move from room to room. It moves much faster than the crew members. The sound of opening sliding doors signals the player that "something" has moved from one place to the other. This "something" can be an alien, a crew member or Jones, the ship's cat.
A creaky sound shows that a grate has been removed somewhere. If the player has not given any commands for removing a great, this is a clear sign for an alien activity.
If a crew member meets the alien, the map is substituted by a close-up of the alien, an alarming sound rings and if you have weapons, then it is now the right time to use them with "Attack". The bigger the group when the alien is found, the higher is the chance that you can harm it.
OXYGEN SUPPLY (TOOH = Time Out Of Hyperspace)
There is an oxygen supply of only 7500 units. From this supply one unit per crew member that is alive is subtracted per second. When the supply reaches zero, the game ends with a total defeat.
Same as in the movie, a random crew member is also in the game an android, whose task it is to avoid that the alien gets harmed. This person can at first be controlled as the rest of the crew but in the course of the game it will show its true identity and, most of the time in a very inappropriate moment, attack other crew members.
END OF THE GAME
The game can have four different endings:
- All crew members are killed by the alien or lose their senses or suffocate by lack of oxygen. The Nostromo returns to Earth and the alien and its eggs spread over the planet. A total defeat which is worth 0 percent. This also happens when the only crew member that is left is the android.
- You make it to trigger the self destruction sequence and the Nostromo explodes with the load and all other passengers. This gets the player still 5 percent.
- You make it to trigger the self destruction sequence and the Nostromo explodes with all the load. The rest of the crew can escape with the escape shuttle. This is worth a lot more points.
- You make it to kill the alien and the Nostromo lands on Earth undamaged. This variant is worth the most points.
When crew members survive, it is shown at the end who of them is left with a trauma due to the experienced thing.
After a "Full game" it will also be revealed who the android was.
The game cannot deny its ZX Spectrum roots. Although the graphics are significantly better in comparison to the original, this can only count as just sufficient for a C64 game. The sketches of the spaceship above the alien (green) background are poor in details and utterly symbolic, the graphic of the alien, assembled from several sprites, seems virtually a joke. Equally sparse is the inside view of the escape shuttle and the title graphics. The title music consists of a threatingly turgescent synthesized full hammer that absolutely comes off dramatically and has nice filter gimmicks. In the game itself there is not much to be heard except for hissing, beeping and humming, aside from the heart beat depending on the morale.
- to : moves the cursor, if no joystick at hand
- + : pauses the game
- + : ends the pause mode
- : ends the game when in pause mode
The control key corresponds to the tab key in Vice and CCS emulator. The commodore key is most of the time Ctrl left.
- In the "Short scenario" the same conditions for an escape with the shuttle are valid. However, you do not need to identify the droid as it was already destroyed at that point of time.
The most important places in the game:
- 1 + 2: Airlocks. Each crew member that is in an open airlock will die. Open airlocks do NOT lower the oxygen supply. This only happens when they are damaged by the alien blood.
- 3: Airlock control. From here you can open and close lock 1 and 2.
- 4: Storage Room. Contains a wrench.
- 5: Computer. When damaged by the alien it signals "Computer malfunction".
- 1: Command Centre. Here are two flame throwers and a tracker at the start of the "Full Game". From here you can start the self desctruction sequence. It is reversable for five minutes. After this warning period has run out, the ship will explode after another five minutes. Signals "Partial control loss" when damaged.
- 2: Infirmary. Here is a shock rod.
- 3: Laboratory. Here is the cat box.
- 4: Inf Stores. Here is a shock rod.
- 5: Armoury. Here you find three laser pistols.
- 6 to 8: Engines 1 to 3. In each of those is one fire extinguisher. Signals "Fire in Engine" when damaged by the alien.
When this message appears, instantly send someone there, because now a countdown will start: if the damage in one of the engines reaches 100%, the whole ship will explode!
- 9: Lab Stores. Here you find a shock rod and the net.
- 10: Cryo-Vault. Here crew members can be put to IRREVERSIBLE hibernation to save oxygen. Careful: as soon as only one person has been put to sleep, a later escape with the shuttle is impossible! When damaged by the alien it signals: "Cryogenics malfunction."
- 1: Shuttle Bay. Here is the harpoon gun. From here you can enter the escape shuttle "Narcissus".
- 2: Engine Store. Here is a flame thrower and a tracker.
- 3: Live support When damaged by the alien it signals: "Environmental irregularities."
Flame thrower. Wounds the alien without acid blood emerging.
- Electric Prod
Shock rod. Wounds the alien without acid blood emerging. Less strong than the Incernator.
- Las Pistol
Laser pistol. Wounds the alien and causes 30% structural damage per hit in the room where the fight takes place. If the damage exceeds 100%, all crew members in the room die and it gets inaccessible! So very dangerous. Has only limited ammunition.
- Harpoon Gun
Harpoon gun. Causes maximum damage on the alien, but instantly kills every user and causes a massive structural damage. A suicide weapon for crew members that are either physically or mentally finished and want to sell themselves as expensive as possible.
Wrench. Causes minimal damage.
- Fire extinguisher
Fire extinguisher. Is needed to douse possible fires in the machine rooms. Can be used as makeshift weapon. Has only a limited number of uses.
Net. Is needed to catch Jones. Can be used against the alien to reduced its movability, but cannot be used again. As long as Jones is caught in the net, it cannot be used any more.
Motion sensor. Locates ALL animals on ALL neighbouring rooms and signals this by an alarm sound. Can be used as a club in close combat, but is destroyed after that.
- Cat box
Jones can, after you have caught him in the net, be put in here to get the net free for the chase on the alien. It can be used without or with cat (as a punishment for the stupid fleabag) as an absoulte emergency weapon. You CANNOT catch Jones with the cat box, for this your first need the net.
HINTS FOR THE GAME:
Catching the ship's stubborn cat is a condition to be able to escape with the escape shuttle later. Furthermore, Jones works as an additional tracker that only signals the alien as soon as he is carried in the net or the cat box. The message "Jones is uneasy" then tells you that the alien is in a neighbouring room. To catch Jones in the net, choose the periodically appearing command "get jones", when he runs over the screen. For this you probably need several tries.
Detect the android
Dallas, Kane, Ash or Parker can be the android, this is randomly decided before the game after it gets clear who has been killed by the alien first. The android will uncover itself, when it scents the chance to do the crew the most possible harm, so most of the time during a fight against the alien or when it is alone with a crew member. Usually, it needs two persons with good weapons to kill the android. When it has killed a crew member, it runs through the ship of its own accord and ambushs other character in the further course of the game.
To not let it get that far, you have to find it in the best case before this all happens. Two characteristics can reveal it:
- 1. It cannot be put to hypersleep in the Cryovault.
- 2. It ignores commands for an attack when fighting against the alien.
You could now try to steer Dallas, Kane, Ash and Parker one after the other into the Cryovault, to command them to go into hibernation. The one that would be left is the android. Unfortunately, the hibernation cannot be reversed and as soon as you have put one person to sleep, a later escape with the shuttle is excluded. So the best is, to pay heed to anyone who does not strike a hit in the fight against the alien. If you cannot find this out in the heat of the moment, it is recommended to give the suspect a laser pistol as a weapon. When it hits the alien with it, there will be a message about the damage, due to the emerging acid blood. Then you know that this person cannot be the android. As soon as the android has become conspicious due to its behaviour in the fight, you need to move it to the Cryovault, try to put it to hypersleep (which of course does not work) and can then finally be "disposed of" through the airlock at the upper deck. The check in the Cryovault MUST be done, as this is a condition for a possible later escape with the shuttle.
Kill the alien
The biggest problem in the fight against the alien is the acid blood, that emerges when you injure it. This happens, if you fight with laser pistols or even worse with the harpoon gun (with fatal consequences). Therefore, all crew members should be equipped with shock rods and flame throwers, if possible. If Jones is already caught, the net should be thrown on the alien, which limits its power in the fight. It is optimal, when a group of three meets the alien. While one member reloads his weapon, you can change to the others and make them attack, so that as many hits as possible can be made within a short time.
Single persons that are surprised by the alien should instantly take flight, preferrably into the direction of other crew members, who you draw into the direction of the incident. It is optimal, if you make it to corner the alien between two groups of three, so it can hardly escape. If laser pistols are used as a weapon, you need to take care that the structural damage of the place must not exceed 100%.
Escape with the shuttle
But most of the time, the alien prevails. Then you can only try to escape in the escape shuttle "Narcissus". The requirements for this are:
- Jones has been caught. Hereby it does not matter if he is in the net or the cat box.
- The android has been successfully identified and destroyed or was "disposed of" through the airlocks.
- There are at least only three people alive, because only that many fit into the shuttle.
- No crew member has been put permaturely into hypersleep in the Cryovault.
- The self destruction mechanism has been activated in the Command Centre.
- Of course the alien MUST NOT be in the shuttle! If needed, it has to be lured out.
No cheats known.
Robotron2084: "The oxygen is running out, the last crew member, totally shattered and heavily wounded with the cat box at the left and clutching the flame thrower at the right, rushes towards the escape shuttle. Only one minute to the detonation, signals the computer, when suddenly the alien stands in front of you. You can experience exactly this scenario, this tension from the movie, here admittedly in awful 8-bit graphics ;)!
ALIEN is as far as I know the only computer game, that deals with the first (and IMO the best) part of the alien series in a worthy way.
Once again are graphics and sound secondary, as it is often in games with a load of depth (at least for 8-bit means), although you can get really scared when you are suddenly surprised by the image of the ′breakdancer′-alien while planning intensely.
The whole design has of course written Spectrum all over it, but I have played both versions and the C64 version is really a lot nicer, though this does at first not mean much. Added is, that the game is tidy buggy, no sugarcoating here. There are graphics bugs everywhere, but at least the box stays stable and does not crash. What is much more awkward are the overcomplicated and clumsy controls, you constantly choose the wrong commands by accident (especially under stress). This causes deductions in the B-mark. Nevertheless, what is left at the end of the day is a sitting duck for every Alien fan/freak with lots of atmosphere and due to the random course of the game a certain long-term motivation. The games are each time a bit different and some end unbelievably dramatically. 7 points from me."
The quote by Jospeh Conrad in the title screen ("We live as we dream - alone.") stems from his semi-fictitious travel report "Heart of Darkness".
The names "Nostromo" for the freighter and "Narcissus" for the escape shuttle are further references to Conrad's books.
- Robotron2084 - 15% - Level 3 (13.12.2007)
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