For no reason at all I started up my Spectrum emulator and scrolled down the list of available games to load…
There are quite a few games starting with the word “Alien”, I thought. And then: And I’ve not really added anything of much worth to the site in a little while. Followed by: I could quickly play all of them and write about it with screenshots. Ending with: Even though that’s arguably of about as much worth as not doing anything at all.
But it keeps me off the streets, so here goes.
Written by Ian Upton and published by Stephen Hartley Software in 1984 this is a text adventure game with an alien world theme. Hence the name.
The game starts with you in a deep quarry under an orange sky. It might help to picture the scene if you’ve ever watched Blake’s 7. I have, and every other episode took place in a quarry so this was a great boon to the mental imagery that the game was trying to convey.
I started by typing LOOK and immediately was told that I could see a hidden gully. This struck me as nonsense. How could I possibly see something hidden? Surely it would be… whatever the opposite of hidden is. I decided to enter the not-hidden-at-all hidden gully and from there entered a tunnel until my way forward was blocked by rubble. I typed BARNEY RUBBLE and was told “I can’t” by way of response. This also struck me as nonsense although I was probably to blame too at this point.
I decided to try the next game, which was…
The game got off to an ominous start by instructing me to “Fly pass the aliens” which was clearly nonsense.
The game then got much worse by starting. In summary: coloured lines, a thing that moves down the screen, some flashing black lines.
What’s this? A second game for the Spectrum called Alien Attack? Why yes! Yes it is!
It had to be better, didn’t it?
The game got off to an ominous start by instructing me to “Save the Earth from being distroyed” which was clearly nonsense.
However, miracle of miracles, the game itself wasn’t too bad, featuring waves of well, let’s call them invaders descending down the screen (or from space if you like) while you shoot up the screen trying to stop them reaching the bottom. The graphics were just awful but this was more than made up for by the gameplay which was slightly above mediocre.
Alien City Adventure
Another adventure game but this time with graphics! Well, a few lines anyway but that’s pretty impressive for the ZX Spectrum. And, apparently, this was originally a game that had to be typed in from a magazine listing. Impressive.
The actual adventure game engine used initially seemed pretty good, borrowing heavily from the appearance of games like The Hobbit. However, after a while it became clear that the game suffered from silly adjectives (“You are in a wet, dank room”) and an element of complete randomness to the locations.
Good grief! A Spectrum game with good gameplay and graphics (well, for a Spectrum game, of course)!
The game revolves around you as a thing that needs to collect other things in order to start something up. You’ve got to avoid some things while some other things try to get you and you can shoot those things. I’m probably not doing the actual enjoyability of this game justice with that description.
It was ever so slightly spoiled by my thing running into a thing and finding itself stuck with no way to quit the game. But that’s my thing! Always getting into trouble!
And another not bad game at all! That’s two in a row!
Alien Syndrome from Sega is a multi-directional shoot-em-up requiring you as the hero (either male or female) to walk through hallways and corridors and rooms shooting giant caterpillars with a weapon with very limited range in order to rescue comrades and earn the reward of… fighting something bigger so that you can do it all again.
Did I say it’s not bad? It’s true!
Finally, is it possible to have a list of alien games for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum without mentioning Alien, the game? Quite likely, but not on my watch mister.
So, Alien does a very good job of taking all the the tense, claustrophobic elements of the movie and throwing them away in favour of a dull version of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s not all dull, though, as there’s an interesting attempt at a menu-style interface (something done much better by Mastertronic games like Knight Tyme). It is mostly dull, however.
I decided to spice things up by immediately scuttling the Nostromo.
This did not spice things up.
I was mostly pleased that I had reached the end of the games I had that started with the word “Alien” at this point.