Release Date: 1990
Aliens is a 1990 video game based on James Cameron’s Aliens, specifically made for Arcades. It was developed and published by Konami.
This is a sidescroller shooter game where the player can play either Ripley, Hicks, or both. You have the M56 Smart Gun at your disposal but you can get either a 3-Way Flamethrower, 3-Bullet Missile Launcher, 2-Bullet Missile Launcher, or Flamethrower. You can keep these weapons until you lose a life. Bombs, Super Bombs, and the Powerloader also make an appearance in the game.
The player must rid LV-426 of Aliens and kill the Queen Alien. There are eight stages in the U.S. version while the Japan version loses the two levels where you ride on the A.P.C. (Armored Personnel Carrier) in an attempt to save Newt. You encounter many different kinds of aliens including Eggs, Facehuggers, Chestbursters, Adult Aliens, and a Queen.
Aliens features two different endings and the one you get is entirely dependent on your actions in the final battle against the Queen Alien. If you hit the Queen with the Powerloader or shoot it enough times with the Smart Gun, the Queen will explode and get pulled into the Sulaco’s airlock and into space. If you manage to pin the Queen against the airlock with the Powerloader, then the torch on the Powerloader can be activated and the Queen will be pulled into space like the film.
US – Japan Differences:
There are some differences between the American and Japan version of Aliens. The US version has the “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” screen but the gameplay is quite different in the Japanese version and many changes have made the game easier:
- The two APC driving levels have been removed. As a result, the subplot of rescuing Newt is gone. Therefore, Newt never appears in Stage 1.
- When you take on the ‘Shrinky-Dink Alien Quartet’, the first one to fully enlarge hops off-screen, leaving you to only battle the other three.
- Many of the aliens, zombies, and mid-bosses can be killed with fewer shots.
- Two new kinds of minor enemy appear in the game :
a) An adult alien bursts out of the background wall during the vent portion of what we consider Stage 5. It functions much like the Ground-Poppers and is destroyed just as easily, but with new animations and from a different angle. It is the only one of its type in the game.
b) The small form of the Shrinky-Dink Alien, as seen in the form of the second mid-boss in Stage 5, reappears in Stage 7. It stands alone on the catwalks with a ring of orange energy circling it and the catwalk in a kind of ‘shield’. A few shots destroy it.
- Titles have been given to each level. They are as follows:
Level 1 – Living Quarters
Level 2 – Factory
Level 3 – Factory2
Level 4 – Queen Alien’s DEN
Level 5 – Escape Route
Level 6 – Battle Ship SULACO
- Special weapons and bombs appear much more frequently in the game, dropping from the sky for the players to use at regular intervals.
- It is now possible to attain 1-ups in the game. If a player is still carrying a weapon from the last special weapon power-up, the next one to fall on-screen will contain a 1-up. It comes in the form of a red ribbon with a bow wrapped around the word ‘1up’.
- In addition to the other enemies in this section, ground-popping aliens now appear earlier, during the nest portion of what we know as Stage 3.
- In addition to the other enemies, flying aliens now appear during the first power loader segment, in Stage 3.
- Flying aliens are much more frequent throughout the outdoor portion of Stages 5 and 7.
- Extra exploding barrels appear throughout the game.
- Numerous aliens have changed colour Adult aliens are now purple instead of maroon, face-huggers are now flesh-toned instead of green, etc.
- Many of the adult aliens in the elevator sequence of Stage 3 have been removed. They have been replaced with flying aliens that do NOT damage the cables. This makes this sequence much easier.
- The beams from the 3-Way gun have changed colour from purple to orange.
- During the final battle, the queen does NOT breathe fire/acid at you. Instead, after flashing white, she sends out multiple images of herself as a projectile! These are wider and therefore are easier to be hit by.
- The queen charges at you constantly even if you are in the power loader. This makes the final battle much more difficult.
Aliens has got mostly positive reviews. Upon its release, Computer & Video Games magazine scored it 91% saying: “I loved this game – it’s fast tough and requires fast-thinking and even fast reactions to survive.” In contrast, CU Amiga gave it a scathing review and gave it 44% saying “This really is a waste of time – apart from the game’s patent lack of originality, it’s actually also far below the standards one expects in 1990s coin-ops in the purely technical and cosmetic areas.” Retrospective reviews have been more positive. Den of Geek said “Aliens was among the best games based on the property for years.” Aliens appeared on VentureBeat’s Must-Play Alien Titles list saying “Konami’s Aliens is a solid, if not extremely safe, arcade title. It’s competent and entertaining for a quarter sucker, but it lacks the creative push in gameplay found in other entries on this list.”