Tony Wilkins reviews Alien Storm for the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis)
When I first got in to the retro gaming scene one title I was on the look out for from my childhood was Alien Storm. I have fond memories of the addictiveness of this game and I was curious to see if it had stood the test of time it being some fifteen years since I last picked up the distinctive black controller of the Mega Drive. So I put it on and immediately found myself feeling like I was in my early teens again as I was hurled into this world of invading alien hordes. It had stood the test of time well.
First released in 1990 as an arcade game it was later adapted for use on the Master System and Mega Drive. The story of Alien Storm is simple enough; Earth has been invaded by a multi-species alien race causing carnage and mayhem everywhere and it is up to three “Alien Busters” to send them packing. The game begins with you having to choose which of the three you want to play as. There’s a female character, a male character and a robot. They do have names but they vary from region to region and whichever console you play it on. Why they felt the need to do this I will never know.
Each character has a variety of weapons to use and a single special move. The weapons effectiveness is determined by a power gauge beneath the character’s health bar. When all the power is used then the character resorts to physical attacks until the power can be replenished however this often results in you sustaining some injury since you have to get close to the aliens. Obviously the special moves use more energy than the standard weapons but are essential for clearing the screen when you find that you are a little more outnumbered than usual. How the characters use their basic weapons changes as well to keep things that little more interesting however you have little control over this aspect. Its simply a case of hitting the fire button and seeing what he/she does.
There are three distinct game styles over the course of seven missions. The main game is a side scrolling adventure with the player controlling the character as he/she advances through the stage clearing it of aliens. Everytime the player encounters a group of aliens they must be destroyed before any further progression can be made. There are occasional bonus sections where the player takes on a first person viewpoint to clear a shop/warehouse/etc of the aliens inside. Finally there are high speed shooting segments that play like a sideways version Space Invaders.
Character animation is superb in this game given it’s origins from 1990 (especially good is watching the aliens grow legs ready for the high speed segments) and there are enough new aliens as you progress through the game to keep you interested. The controls are flawless and easy to get to grips with. Despite its relative simplicity it is huge amounts of fun especially when you have a companion in two player mode which does ease the experience somewhat.
Stood the test of time? It remains one of my all time favorite games.
Thanks for reading…