ping ping! Dracula Densetsu II be over, again, until next time. Ta for hard mode tip Brian, it does make things a bit more interesting later on with all the bats.
"NOT MUH BEAUTIFUL FACE"
Haha no, thank you
Konami! Rest in peace. ;w;7
Oh lawd, it's Alien 3!
(Mega Drive/Genesis, Probe Software, 1992)
Bald patch represent!
No Japan release for this one, which automatically bumps it down my interest list. I still wanted to revisit though, because while as a kid it annoyed me, I recalled it having some neat ideas! And that it does. In the marrying of tight POV to lurking monsters, limited mobility and perilously sparse ammo, there is the kernel of a unique survival horror sidescroller. Action is simple, yet visceral and rewarding - blasting incoming aliens may demand little more than reaction speed, but in this very specific context, a clean kill with no injury sustained, minimal ammo expended and one less hostile to worry about is satisfaction itself.
The vast majority of the game is spent in nonlinear, time-limited prisoner rescues amid increasingly complex terrain - ideal venues for uneasy, impelled exploration. Time limits are decidedly merciless, from a first-run perspective - a time bonus pickup wouldn't have gone amiss. I detect a nice bit of black humour in the grim reward for mission failure: a pan-around of the stage helpfully revealing the location of missed prisoners, each giving a convincing scream of agony as chestbursters erupt on cue. Audio is outstanding - the brutal explosions, crisp pulse rifle fire and dead-on facehugger SFX rival Splatterhouse Part 3 for ghoulish YM2612 horror fun. Music enjoys beefy tone and generally excellent compositions, albeit most too peppy for the license (dig the New Beat sound, boyeee
- acid for blood, more like acid for brunch mirite). Certainly one of the stronger-sounding Western MD games I've played in recent memory.
Looks pretty good too. Efficiently characterful animations on Ripley, prisoners and the aliens alike - the eggs and facehuggers are, again, perfectly translated - and bar some silly levitating platforms and spike pits, the setting is quite convincing. Standouts are Area 2's hellish abattoir (I love the ambiguous brutality... some carcasses skinned for human consumption, others chestburst for alien ends) and Area 4's credibly Gigeresque hive. The latter goes for an almost ethereal effect - works better than it might sound, given the intense enemy presence.BUT UNFORTUNATELY:
Sadly, at both fundamental and finer levels, the game is simply too unpolished for more than a glimpse of its potential. Endemic cheap shots and frequent, tedious recoveries create a needless layer of irritation, one that soundly knocks this down to curio tier.
From the foundations up... camera tracking is broken, offsetting Ripley toward the scrolling screen edge at all times. This is annoying in the most forgiving of circumstances - in a game where reaction speed is paramount, POV is already tight, and whose enemies' sole trick is "pop in suddenly and knock player down," it's exasperating. You might assume the motion tracker is there to compensate - I did, hence my wanting to revisit. Nope. The tracker is handy for detecting nearby captives, coming into its own in the excellently disorienting Hive stages. It is useless
for spotting enemies in your general vicinity. The trick to avoiding constant muggings is to inch ahead until Ripley starts leaving screen center, halting as the camera floats forward, repeating ad infinitum. As fucking ever: in a multidirectionally-scrolling 2D game, scroll locked to player position. Player position locked to screen center. Anything
else invites trouble.
Finer balancing issues compound this. Aliens start off with enough HP to tank through your pulse rifle at the slightest delay - it's not a bad effect, initially. By Area 3, they're tough enough to shrug off once-devastating grenades, slashing the already slim odds of intercepting their attack. Sustaining damage of any sort sends Ripley flying, followed by several seconds' immobility. Getting clobbered by surprise xenotanks, waiting to regain control, then dispatching the now aimlessly-pacing foe from within the invincibility window gets old quickly. This isn't even considering some blatantly cheap enemy positioning. At its best, the game punishes you for hastily approaching points of interest - conjuring fond thoughts of the films' vicious ambush predators. Unfortunately, the designers have no
qualms about occasionally dumping aliens directly onto the player from above, most noticeably in Area 2's first stage. In the worst betrayal of its potential, memorisation of static stage layouts becomes the only reliable solution.
Er - you avin' a larf m8? Got that by accident on one of the first stages and had to laugh. SHINOBI for the SEGA SYSTEM 16 this ain't. (・｀ω´・)JUDGMENT:
Alien 3's not without some merit, sporting a unique concept and at times engrossing execution. To Probe's credit, they went far beyond pasting Ripley into a random Contra knockoff and calling it quits. However, it is critically flawed and recommendable to only the most patient and curious of sidescroller fans. Survival horror appreciators will likely regard it more charitably than others.
Personally, it's interesting how closely its successes and failings mirror that of prototypical survival horror. The individual components of gunplay and timed exploration are functional at best, but properly arranged they could amount to a solid chassis for a more "experience-oriented" game. As with certain classics like Resident Evil (2002) and Silent Hill 2, this is also a game with credible enough tension that at times, the conspicuous absence
of monsters can perturb.DREAM HACKZ:
1) center camera. how the fuck did so many devs get this wrong BITD? I swear I'm gonna build a Terminator and have him force you to recode this shit at gunpoint.
2) lock alien HP at Area 1 levels - weapons already feel authentically stressed from the outset. Later areas develop Euroshump Peashooter Syndrome.
3) refine away the unreactable "gotcha" spawns. These suck at the best of times - unfathomably moreso in a game reliant on the tension of intercepting lurking fiends.
4) fix motion tracker to detect approaching, running aliens (leave floor-hiders invisible, they're cool).
I also think it'd be good to 5) shorten the tedious damage cycle, putting Ripley back on her feet immediately, and 6) (with the above improvements in place)
impose a Rolling Thunder-style "three hits and you're dead" system. Decrease annoyance, increase tension.