Friday, January 1, 2010
Alien Syndrome by Sega, original arcade release in 1987.
Ahhh, aliens. Ahhh, Sega. Somehow, the two have become so often intertwined in their history together. Well, this is not a mutual exclusivity. Anyway, Alien Syndrome is another in a long line of Alien-themed games of one sort or other to come out of the company, how does it stack up?
This was one of those "in the background" games. Alien Syndrome was never particularly memorable or noteworthy, but it sounded like it should be a good time. While Nintendo was pumping out fare like Metroid and Kid Icarus, this was what Sega had on offer. Not a bad game, but just another "insert game theme to already-existing gameplay formula," and it was flawlessly executed thusly. No highs, no lows, just run, shoot, power-up, avoid.
It was a bit odd as Alien Syndrome - in the original arcade version, as well as the ports - was trying to convey a nightmare "survival horror" mood, very obviously in the spirit of the timely "Giger Alien" movies. The James Cameron sequel was pretty fresh in the public's mind and this no doubt was designed ot feed off of that, in some part or other. Anyway, the oddness comes across with the style of the game, in that it has a lot of that "squashed and cutesy" tone mixed with traditional "action game graphics" of the day. Rather than going for all-out creep, the game came off looking like a strange experiment which doesn't satisfy any camp. I think had they gone over the top with this and pushed for more mood, the game could have become very memorable and developed into a more interesting franchise.
All told, Alien Syndrome is a pretty basic/average experience with some nice touches and the usual extra flourishes that would pop up in a Sega arcade machine. Again, it's a shame they didn't push this further as it really could have gone more in the direction of being more like "Sega's Metroid" and been something truly special. For what it is, the game is definitely playable and colorful, but certainly nothing to get terribly excited for.