New in the Arcade: Aliens (1990) & Aliens: Extermination (2006)

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Recently on April 26, FOX celebrated the inaugural Alien Day – in anticipation of the 30th anniversary of Aliens, the opportunity to celebrate one of the most popular and influential sci-fi franchises ever on 4-26 was obviously too good to pass up! To do our part, we’ve introduced two games based on the series from two different eras of arcade gaming!

Aliens (1990, Konami)

Aliens (1990)The nightmare is just about to begin… again…

It’s the year 2179 and Lieutenant Ellen Ripley has been discovered nearly 60 years after surviving her first encounter with the Xenomorphs. Hadley’s Hope, a terraforming and research colony on planet LV-426, has gone silent. Now you must take on the role of Ellen Ripley or Corporal Dwayne Hicks to investigate the colony, eliminate the alien invasion, and rescue anyone that’s left!

Drop in to LV-426 armed only with a M56 Smartgun and your wits, as you search the colony for signs of life. Hold the fire button down for a continuous stream of bullets, and use the second fire button to crouch and shoot (crucial for those pesky facehuggers, and Xenomorphs coming at you from the ground). Look out for upgraded weapons like flamethrowers and enemy-seeking rocket launchers, especially helpful when you’re surrounded by bugs. Pressing both attack buttons will throw a bomb (if you have any left!), but the real heavy-duty hardware is the power loader: Take your level 6 rating and use the mechanized suit to smash through enemies and bay doors without breaking a sweat! Each level has some variety, too – you’ll crawl through ducts (pay attention to your tracker so you don’t get ambushed), ride freight elevators, and face boss characters in a pseudo-3D perspective similar to the base levels in Contra.

Easily one of the greatest and most influential sci-fi action movies of all time, the impact of Aliens took a while to reach arcades. While the film was released in 1986, the arcade version would not be released until 1990. The golden age of arcade gaming had already come and gone, so even a seemingly sure thing like adapting the action-packed hit for eager gamers didn’t happen right away. Fortunately, the late 80s saw the rise of a new genre of video game – the side scrolling beat ‘em and shoot ‘em up. Games like Final Fight (Capcom) and Double Dragon (Technōs Japan/Taito) revolutionized the simple-yet-addictive concept of “walk left and right and defeat waves of enemies”, but Konami took the shooting prowess they displayed in games like Gradius and Lifeforce, combined it with the relentless military action from Contra and Super Contra, and delivered an Aliens experience worth waiting for!

Like the movie, the action in Aliens is relentless. Konami took some liberties with the franchise introducing new and unexpected types of Xenomorphs, and it’s not clear why Ripley’s hair is blonde, but overall the atmosphere of the film is reproduced well with plenty of recognizable sights and sounds. It won’t be easy to find and defeat the alien Queen, and you won’t get a rescue party, but at least you can continue…

Aliens: Extermination (2006, Global VR)

Aliens: ExterminationReturn to LV-426 to eradicate the last of the Xenomorphs! You’re a Colonial Marine tasked with cleanup of the remnants of Hadley’s Hope, the failed Weyland-Yutani colony. However, it looks like acid-bleeding aliens aren’t your only problem: Weyland-Yutani’s defense systems have been doing a little bit of work of their own…

In Aliens: Extermination you only need to know one thing: where they are! Aim your gun at oncoming enemies in this fast-paced first-person action game, and pull the trigger to eliminate enemies before they overwhelm you. Keep an eye on the ammo indicator either on-screen or on your gun, as your fire rate will drop dramatically when you need to reload (by shooting spinning ammo power-ups). Toss a grenade by hitting the glowing red button on the side of your weapon, and if you’re lucky enough to find a napalm container, hold down the yellow button near the front of the weapon to unleash a stream of fire and burn the bugs! In case you’ve forgotten, you’ll quickly be reminded that Xenomorphs are avid climbers, and they’ll come at you from all angles. Watch for plenty of secret items hidden in destructible objects, but be wary of friendly fire – hit an ally, and you’ll be penalized! (Why did you have to stand right next to that Alien, anyway?!?)

Global VR’s 2006 arcade game has impressive presentation, especially for Aliens fans. Not only do you get high-quality graphics and sound, but the cabinet really completes the immersive experience. The mounted rifles shake when you’re firing, and the LED ammo indicator on the gun actually gives you a live update of how many bullets you’ve got left before things get dicey. Aiming and firing is extremely accurate and responsive, which is always appreciated in the light-gun genre where games tend to favor cheap hits and iffy detection over a more refined challenge. In short: You’re gonna get hit, a lot, but it’s mostly going to be your fault!

Take on the galaxy’s greatest threat, but don’t do it alone! Aliens: Extermination supports 2 players for maximum efficiency, and you’ll want as much firepower as possible to face waves of aliens, Weyland-Yutani’s synthetic forces, and the Queen herself. Even if you make it to your dropship, it’s not over yet…