Alien / Anonymous (1982)
|The Landlord of Apartment F209's Verdict:
|As a director of one of the very few movies that
has a decent video game made about it, albeit on the Atari Jaguar and with another
franchised character, allow me to state in no uncertain terms that I did not enjoy this
|The Dude In Charge of the SPCA's Verdict::
||Some comments rival
"the phone never ring."
|I thank my creator that I can admit, in 2000, that
this game isn't that good.
|Version reviewed was writtin in BASICA for your IBM Personal Computer.
I believe the year was 1985 when my father
brought home an IBM PCjr and changed my life forever. He had already played a
large part in it, actually, being involved in the conception and what not. But... he
didn't stop there! Oh, no. His choice to invest in an IBM compatible machine may have
originally sprung from the fact that he wanted to be able to "take work home with
him" (he was employed with Eastman Kodak at the time) but the repercussions of such a
decision have had a lasting and positive effect on me until this day. Rather than get the
kids what they wanted -- a Commodore 64 -- he got me a machine whose architecture is still
being used fifteen years late. It also allowed me to play the 1982 BASIC text adventure Alien
for much longer than any sane human should.
Back in the day, my brother Mike and I didn't
have any games for the PCjr. While our friends were playing Impossible
Mission and Gauntlet on their C64s, we were out of luck. There
was Shamus, sure. Zork would come around a little later.
So we got a bunch of BASIC games from one of dad's co-workers and went to town.
Remarkably, one game concerned the sole survivor of the spacecraft Adonis. Yes, that's
right, someone wrote a computer game where a guy escaped from the "Adonis."
Granted, the favorite past-time of most RTK readers is laughing at my Interactive Fiction
Hall of Shame photo and pronouncing me a fruit, but Christ -- I would never write a game
where the ship was called frigging "Adonis." I wonder, really, just what kind of
ship it is. My money is on a futuristic trans-sexual prison ship, Constitution
class. But that's just me.
The best part about the game being in BASIC
is that I can cut and paste text from the game right into my review. The worst part of the
game is, funnily enough, playing it. It's unfair. The planet you find yourself having
crash-landed on is a wasteland of rapidly changing weather conditions and home to ravenous
slog monster. The name of the planet is not actually given, although we are told it is the
fourth planet of Procyon II. Consulting my star chart, I think that would make it
"Greeley." Natch. You are told that a human outpost center remains and you have
found it. All that is needed now is to get inside before the weather starts changing. Good
luck. The game's parser is an adventure in self-abuse.
The thing is, however, that only a crappy
parser could convey the sense of getting trapped in the middle of a storm. The player will
feel helpless and will die before figuring out a way to get in. If you buy the fact that
the game "works" at all, it's only because trying to do anything in it is
sickeningly difficult. No other game creates such a palatable effect of horror tinged with
impotence. Mostly because no other game is this bad yet written this well. Sure, it has a
level of cheeze: frequently the game will spout something like "GAAAAH!!!!"
before telling you the awful thing that just happened to the player character. But it's
second to none in terms of mean catch phrases.
"Looka like a storm is brewing."
Say this phrase to my brother and I and you have instantly used a form of modern thieves
cant. "You is dead, buddy." The game pretends to be your pal, slapping you on
the back, ever confident that since classics like Duke Nukem 3D, X-COM,
and, uh, even Burn: Cycle weren't around you had no choice but to spend
your time playing the same piece of awful freeware. Alien's confidence is
surprisingly high. You have to respect that.
Getting into the human MET station offers
many ways to die. There are not really "insta-death" rooms, per se, but the game
is hardly fair and coddling. You wouldn't want it babysitting your first born, in other
words. As for the conclusion, well... it's not going to be challenging Tekken III
for post-game cinematics and depth.
Alien is a bad game, all the
way around. The author, however, can write somewhat effectively. Pity we may never know
who cobbled together this ware to see if he or she had other IF projects. It's still
better than Burn: Cycle, though. Admittedly that's like saying that a
night with the king's favorite concubine is better than a night getting drawn and
quartered by the King's favorite mare but it doesn't make it any less valid.
(And stating that the worst of IF is still
more entertaining than typical FMV-based fare is what we do best at Reviews From
|Some funny comments... gotta like any game that calls you a
1.0 / 10
|This is what freeware IF was like in the 80s. You may look at it and say
"Boy, we sure have come a long way since then..." And you'd be right, I suppose.
Still, I have fond memories of playing this and many other BASIC/homebrewn text adventures
- ever play Steve Neighorn's stuff? He wrote good games basically unplayable due to the
picky parsers. Bit of a pity that parser development was so far off as the games often
enough were engagingly written, this one included.
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