In Alien Girl you play the part of Aliana, the first human / xenoform hybrid from the planet Atlas, who is aiming to rise as the one and only queen and achieve balance between the races. In order for this to happen you must perform three purges and kill a stack of aliens. Sounds like just an excuse to blow away anything that moves. Let’s rock.
After the game has loaded you get to select easy or normal level and are then presented with a bit of pixel art and a brief story. This only happens the first time you play the game. Subsequent plays just return you to the control options menu which squeals ALIEN GIRL! at you every chance it gets.
The game is a slightly angled top down view blaster written using the MK1 Engine given a pseudo 3D effect, similar to the likes of Trashman, Escape and Android 2, but you can’t actually walk behind anything. It has some simple puzzle elements involving solid blocks which can be pushed around and used as cover and also collection of key cards which open doors.
The aliens are like mindless zombies who home in on you and follow your position with no regard for walls or other scenery. They’re quite easy to trick. The face huggers seem to follow a set pattern which is a little disappointing as it means they’re even less terrifying than the mutant telephones in Manic Miner. Back and forth boring, instead of homing speedster thrilling.
You don’t have to kill everything. Instead, you can set traps using blocks to keep Aliana (aka Ripley 8) safe from the never-ending hordes of alien foes. Unfortunately when you return to a screen it resets, so some of the stuff you destroyed previously re-appears and blocks return to where they were initially located. Creatures on pre-set patterns, like the face huggers, tend not to reappear.
Contact with any aliens or the green acid on the floor lowers your energy (heart) and also renders you invulnerable for a fleeting moment. It also causes aliens to do a brief on the spot jig. Aliens are only destroyed if you shoot them and you only get one life so once your energy runs out it’s Game over, man! game over.
The level scenery includes floor tiles, beds, potted plants, alien slime and faceless dead bodies, which gave me the creeps. Unlike in Gauntlet you cannot destroy the alien spawning pits. You can destroy the face hugger eggs but they leave a patch of the aforementioned green acid on the floor.
Your status display has energy shown as a heart, ammo remaining, bombs collected, time remaining for a skirmish and key cards collected. Your aim is to complete each purge (level) and collect the 5 bombs needed to kill the queen. Purge one is the alien research centre where there’s nothing but aliens (xenoforms), purge two is the alien colony on the planet Acheron and purge three is on board a human alien transport ship, named Decoud. Each purge also has a bit of pixel art and a brief intro.
Game messages are shown at the top of the screen, like ‘Look for 5 bombs and The Queen’. On entering certain areas, a red message will appear stating ‘Skirmish! Survive!’, exits are blocked and you have to survive a constant barrage of alien attackers for 60 seconds. Once the timer reaches zero the exits re-open.
There’s no scoring in the game. It’s more of an action adventure than an arcade shooter. I think it would have been beneficial to be informed with a percentage or stats of the amount of the adventure a player had completed, as is the case with games like Atic Atac and Sabre Wulf. Instead, it’s either failed or completed.
The Skirmish version of the game on side B of the tape is a more straight forward, arcade style game which does away with key cards and is a race against time, 60 seconds, to reach and destroy the queen guided by red directional indicator arrows. This basically means all you need to really think about is blasting everything, including the green doors, which you have no choice but to obliterate in the absence of any alternative ways to open them.
You only start off with 10 energy points, but hearts can be found which add 5 energy points. There’s also time capsules which can be grabbed to reset the time back to 60 seconds.
There’s some great original menu and in-game music which gives a nice sense of pace and doesn’t intrude in the game at all. Spot effects are also well done. The graphics are pleasing to the eye with a fair bit of colour and even when there’s attribute clash you can still see what’s going on so not a major problem.
Alien Girl is a well presented and fun to play game with smart visuals and a couple of cracking tunes. Plus with the Skirmish version in reality you’re getting a great 2 for 1 deal.
Retro game player, creator, reviewer and lover, especially ZX Spectrum, Amiga, PlayStation, PC and Arcade Coin Ops.
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