Help! Help! The aliens have landed! ‘That’s alright!’ says MARK CASWELL, ‘I’ll just nip over to the Burger Café and get some help!’ He’s obviously, stark, staring bonkers. Oh, well...
Look, I’m not bonkers at all. For many years people have claimed to see strange lights in the sky and to have met little green men. Most thought them mad or senile, but there’s a band of serious UFO watchers who’ve anticipated the invasion plans that are to materialise. They set up the Burger Café as a cover with three of their best operatives to watch the skies.
And — behold! — the aliens arrive! So, it’s just as well Gordon, Karla and Scooter (the heroic Alien Busters) are ready to thwart the plans of the bug-eyed monsters who want to take over the planet. That’s where the game begins.
The aliens are carrying out raids on Earth from a huge mothership, hidden from radar by alien technology, and what’s more, the aliens are disguising themselves as everyday objects: they appear as potted plants, telephone boxes, dustbins and other unlikely objects.
THE GAME ITSELF!
Alien Storm is a one or two-player game and starts with a choice of a character to play. Each carries two guns: a really, reeeeeally huge intimidating jobbie to blow away big targets (that also makes a really great noise), plus a standard gun for small annoying aliens who sidle up and try to bite your leg off.
Agility is the characters’ strong point: they leap and roll, avoiding the bug eyed beasties niftily. Offense tactics (guns aside) include clubbing the aliens over the bonce and blasting them with smart bombs.
The game has three game-styles which pop up from level-to-level.
Style number one is a bit Golden Axe-ish (ie, fight the creepies on the current screen and then move onto another location and do away with a few more). Set on the streets, all is pretty quiet until something wanders along that wouldn’t look out of place in the worst anchovy pizza-induced nightmare. Adversaries appear alone, and sometimes in groups, but most are camouflaged as everyday objects and leap out on you as you pass.
A press of the fire button soon whips you into action, although whether you fire the really huge or the not-so-huge gun is chosen by the computer, as is smashing the living daylights out of the scum with your rifle butt.
Your energy level rapidly depletes: energy capsules can be collected when certain adversaries bite the dust, but you often die quicker than capsules are collected (ain’t that always the way?). Destroy all the aliens on that bit and onwards you progress.
THE RUNNING VERY FAST BIT
A change of gameplay follows: we call it the ‘running very fast bit’ ’cos that’s what it’s all about. The screen scrolls horizontally from left to right, and the computer controls the firing of your unfeasably large weapon. All you have to do is move your character up and down the screen to shoot the bug eyed swines. Simple, fun and (in a strange sort of way) quite relaxing.
A third play variation occurs every couple of levels, and sees our heroes battling it out with the aliens in a shop. The view is through the characters’ eyes, and in true Op Wolf style a floating cursor allows you to aim your weapon. Monsters attack you from behind well-stocked shelves: create complete havoc and splatter them across the counters. It’s a super section and refreshingly different from the other game styles.
IT’S ALL RATHER VIOLENT, THEN?
Indeed it is! The game is amazingly close to its coin-op parent: fast, violent and, most important of all, playable (thank heavens). Aliens certainly come in some weird and wonderful shapes, and are very often amusing in their disguises. As with all games with two player mode, Alien Storm is at its best when a mate joins in: it certainly needs two of you to get past some of the horrors you meet up with.
It’s a wonderful conversion, spiffy in fact. So, pick up that huge gun (it’s sitting there in the corner) and prepare to go wild (I did!).
MARK — 90%