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Added: 16 Apr 2012
"A redesigned single player game cannot save this game from the traditional arcade port curse - a lack of longevity"
Alien Storm is another one of Sega's successful System 16 arcade games. It was praised for mixing two sorts of genre's, a beat 'em up and a shooter. Many said the game was just Golden Axe in the future, and blew it off because of that. Alien Storm is a good game in its own right, but the critics were right. So, as was the popular fashion at the time, Sega ported the arcade game to homes. But this time there was a difference. Alien Storm is not a straight port. About 25% of the original game stays intact in this port, the rest being brand new levels, specifically for the home version. All your favourite heroes remain, as well as those ugly aliens. Choose from 3 different characters, and travel through 8 levels, busting all the aliens you can find.
I came across Alien Storm in the Summer of 1991. Just having bought the Megadrive (Genesis for you Yankees), my father decided to take us out to the toy store in town to pick up a game to put away for Christmas. This was one of my 'on a whim' purchases. My brother and I had read about the game in C+VG (UK Mag), so we picked it up. I had never played, nor even heard of the arcade game at this stage. I'd later learn that it was an arcade game from a cousin, when he went and bought us a second copy of the game (took it back, bought a Gameboy with the money).
Alien Storm is based on Earth sometime in the near future. Aliens decide that our planet will make a nice place for them to set up shop. They want the planet. They start taking over the streets, eating people and what not. They begin to disguise themselves as humans. 3 special agents are called into the case. Gordon, your typical rough and tough bloke. Gordon has a fetish for plasma. A girl, whose name escapes me. She likes to play with fire, being equipped with flamethrowers and things. Then there is Scooter. Scooter is a robot. He likes to use himself as a weapon. As sick as that may seem to some of you (there are some real sickos out there), Scooter is actually equipped with all sorts of weapons in his various limbs. Choose your character, rescue the human race, and defeat the alien threat once and for all. Story-wise, just standard beat 'em up fare. Just enough story to support the game, nothing more. No deep twisting plots, no betrayals, nothing.
Alien Storm is a good graphical effort, especially for a first generation Megadrive title. Unlike Altered Beast, Alien Storm keeps a consistent standard in graphical quality with its big brother in the arcades. The characters themselves are big and colourful, and have been quite well drawn. The heroes are armed to the teeth with various sorts of weapons, making them look quite tough. The aliens are ugly and gruesome, making you want to pummel the crap out of them. Animation is quite fluid, and there is plenty of it. No more 2 frame crap. A good way to show of some of the earlier Megadrive hardware. The backdrops are fairly pretty too, showing a scene of a city under attack, with half chewed houses, smashed up buildings and the like. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a store being blasted to pieces by your guns.
Sega learned their lesson when it comes to sound too. The soundtrack is quite varied, with good songs the each level. It's fairly atmospheric, as the pace of the music bumps up when there is a lot of action in the screen (those horizontal running screens). Sound effects don't drop the ball on this one. They range from blood curdling screams of women and children being chased by aliens, to your backup weapon blasting its way in through legions of alien scum. All the sound is clear too. The only problem was that faced by many earlier titles for the machine, and that was that they didn't include enough sound.
The gameplay would be best compared to that of an earlier Sega arcade effort, Golden Axe. Standard beat 'em up fare, with a massive screen clearing special weapon thrown into the mix. The game features plenty of moves for each character too. Clear your way through the 8 levels up to the alien mothership, and save the day. An interesting feature of the game is its experimenting with different play styles. There is the ordinary beat 'em up section, a side scrolling shooter section, and a vertical shooter segment, reminiscent of games such as Operation Wolf. These play types are all mixed together throughout the course of the game too. Two player mode is a good addition to the game, as you can team up to take on the aliens. Beware, as you now have to share your 3 credits between you. There is also the Duel mode, which can be played in single or multiplayer modes. With the single player game, you will be pitted up against various computer opponents, whereas with the multiplayer experience, you will go head to head against a friend in a blood thirsty battle to the death. Or maybe not.
Thankfully, Alien Storm has a very simple control method like most other arcade games. The D-Pad will move your player around the screen. The A button will use your special attack. The B button will strike your enemy, or shoot your weapon. The C button will cause your character to roll. The are various other moves in the game, but you can search these out for yourselves.
Being an arcade game, you'd expect Alien Storm to have limited replay value. Thanks to a little bit of foresight by Sega, this isn't entirely the case. As well as an all new single player campaign (replacing the arcade one), there is now a the new duel mode. But of course, the game is going to tire out at some stage. The arcade mode will be beaten within a few goes, and the Duel offers very little to the mix. It won't be long before it will be sitting in the pile, in favour of other, more addictive games.
All in all, Alien Storm is not a bad piece of work. The new campaign is a nice idea to those who played the game to death in the arcade, as is the Duel, which is also good for letting off a bit of steam on that friend who took your last credit. Unfortunately, as is the case with most arcade conversions, the game doesn't hold up in the long term stakes. Don't let that scare you away from buying it if you must have the game.
Not too bad for an early title. Keeps up well with it's arcade brother. A mix of nice sprites and nice backdrops sets it above other titles at the time.
Good, varied, atmospheric soundtrack. Nice sound effects too. Everything is clear and crisp, demonstrated the Stereo Sound which the Megadrive frequently referred to in it's ad campaigns.
Pretty standard Action/Sci-Fi fare here. Enough to support a beat 'em up plot, but no more. It's been done before enough times as well.
A beat 'em up, mixed with some nice shooter touches. Best played with a friend. The new mode, 'The Duel' is also a nice touch. Pick your character, and save the human race.
Nice, simple, and responsive, just the way controls should be. Pulling off the stronger moves isn't too hard either.
Quality of Port: 9.0
Not strictly a port. While the game plays the same, there is a bevy of new levels and features which set it apart from the arcade version. Graphics and sounds are on par too.
Suffers the same as all arcade games. Good for a while, but will soon be on a shelf gathering dust.
- Levels are different from the Arcade version
- Graphics and Sound are near arcade perfect
- The new Duel mode
- The varying gameplay types
- Easy to finish
- The Duel is boring
- Not much to keep you coming back
Does this game belong in my collection? Depends
If you were a fan of the arcade original, rush out and get it. If you weren't be a little more cautious. The game is nice, but that lack of difficulty hurts it. If you hate action games, avoid it like the plague.
Overall: 7.4 (Adjusted to 7 for GameFAQs and 7.5 for FBGames)
All around a good game, with a few minor niggles to hold it back from being a sleeper hit. While not as famous as games such as Golden Axe, it does deserve to be remembered as a part of that classic arcade period.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10, Originally Posted: 02/16/01, Updated 07/05/01
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