Alien Storm (Genesis) review
"Two of the heroes (the male and female) are equally dull: they fire either an electric beam or a flamethrower, and that is the end of it. Watch the electric beam arc an inch in front of your hero — the excitement drips from my veins. However, the silver robot is quite entertaining; he launches missiles from his fists and rips off his own leg (which is actually a bazooka in disguise)! No doubt you can imagine which was my favorite character."
The famous Milton Bradley words come to mind: "You sank my battleship!"
Yes indeed, in Alien Storm you not only fend off invading alien marauders, you also bring their mothership crashing to the earth. That is, if you can endure level after level of frightfully dull gameplay.
At its core, the game is a left-to-right hack and slash. Select one of three characters (obligatory male, obligatory female, and weapon-laced robot) and beat upon each and every alien that slinks your way. Beat upon the innocent townspeople as well -- they are aliens in disguise, after all!
Sadly, the joke was entirely on me. It's not necessarily that the Genesis version of this game is worse than the arcade; it's that after the aforementioned hour, the intense repetitiveness sets in. Not merely a quiet, nagging thought in the mind; rather, Alien Storm grabbed me about the shoulders and cried out, "I AM BORING, DULL, AND REPETITIVE!" As though merely boring and dull were not enough.
In essence, imagine Golden Axe, the classic arcade hack-and-slash from the same era. Now remove environmental obstacles such as pits. Dispense with the multiple forms of magic. And forget about special perks such as being able to ride atop beasts. Alien Storm is straight-out button-beating mayhem. Level after level after level of button-beating mayhem.
Although the characters come equipped with weapons such as flame-throwers, bazookas, and the like, the unrealistically short range of the gunfire puts Alien Storm directly in competition with other (better) titles such as Streets of Rage. I can't speak for others, but when I pick up a rifle and aim it at someone, I expect the bullet to fly a bit further than my fist. With lightning blue lasers and glowing beam sabers, Alien Storm could have been a fresh take on the traditional beat-em-up. Sadly, poor execution turns a bazooka-blast into nothing more than a glorified "kick".
So, clearly, the game does not rely on intricate gameplay. Let us instead look at it from a creative standpoint. Well, on the first level you fight red blob-like beasts. On the next level, they are sometimes orange. And later on in the game, those same blob-beast sprites are grey. Palette-swapping is not a new concept, but it's a boring one. Two of the heroes (the male and female) are equally dull: they fire either an electric beam or a flamethrower, and that is the end of it. Watch the electric beam arc an inch in front of your hero -- the excitement drips from my veins. However, the silver robot is quite entertaining; he launches missiles from his fists and rips off his own leg (which is actually a bazooka in disguise)! Moreover, as a special attack, he BLOWS HIMSELF UP, then a replacement body scurries on-screen, picks up the head, and screws it back on! No doubt you can imagine which was my favorite character. Alas, you can also no doubt imagine the furious wars of Fists and Feet that ensued between brother and sister, since only one of us could select the robot... leaving the other to wallow in generic-character boredom.
There is a bright point skulking about deep inside this game: the first-person perspective bonus rounds, similar to Time Crisis or the venerable Duck Hunt. Between levels, you raid such fanciful settings as the local pharmacy (aliens lurking amidst the aisles), a greengrocer's shop (replete with aliens hiding within wooden crates), or an alien-infested hive planet. The scenery is entirely irrelevant; simply blast the dickens from everything in sight, and admire the fiery explosions that ensue.
Unfortunately, the bonus rounds are constantly interrupted by the game. It is not worth enduring such agonizing tedium for a mere two minutes of gun-blazing mayhem. Alien Storm is a fresh opportunity, thoughtlessly cast into the wide Sargasso sea of generic Genesis games.
Staff review by Zigfried (Date unavailable)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
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