Wot! No sexy Karla! No sexy two-player mode?! Does this latest Sega conversion have any whatevers left over to kick up a storm? ALAN GREEN checks it out...

After glitzing up their spaceships in Super Space Invaders, the aliens have gone all subtle for this latest invasion: disguising themselves as conifer trees, bins and postboxes! Their mean and evil intentions are unchanged, though, walk by and they sneakily switch into their true forms: jelly blobs, snakes, walking heads and pizza-monsters.

So who ya gonna call? Yeah, it’s time for the Alien Busters featuring not Bill Murray and Co, but instead macho-man Gordon, all rippling muscles and lethal flamethrower, and his metal buddy Slammer — tooled up with an electric whip!

By some mysterious law of hardware, the coin-op’s three-player mode has diminished to two (on the Mega Drive) and now just one on Master System. Also missing is the choice of Karla in her skintight bodysuit — all green, eco and anti-sexist.

You may control either of the two remaining heroes. In addition to their respective flame thrower and whip, they’re equipped with special attack techniques (activated by pressing both fire buttons). Gordon can unleash a ballistic missile, and Slammer dramatically blows himself up — and even more remarkably instantly reconstructs himself, too. These specialities are effectively smart bombs, destroying all hostile forces on screen.

Mean streets

It’s pretty vicious out there in this blast-’em and beat-’em coin-op conversion. Four missions provide horizontally srcolling street scenes to battle through, fending off aliens, and some kind of special challenge in between.

The first has you fighting along the city street. The aliens, in all their bizarre shapes, attack in groups of three. Your man can move all over the 3-D perspective screen and make acrobatic leaps across the street. Get into the right position, blitz an alien and the screen scrolls on to the next villain.

Any misjudgment in your attack may result in an energy-sapping strike from the opposition. Maintain your life and energy levels to survive.

Next level takes the form of a 3-D shooting scene, taking place in a shop where the aliens are hanging out in force. It’s basically a case of aligning a cross-hair to blast the rapidly moving freaks as they pop up from behind shelves and along aisles. Complete this and progress through fast scrolling subway scenes to the warehouse and other levels, eventually reaching the aliens’ spaceship itself.

Bustin’ pretty

Graphically, Alien Storm is very imaginative and pretty. The sprites are all colourful and carefully drawn, especially the Busters themselves, whose fighting moves are well depicted. Also the mutating human beings add an element of surprise.

Some animation is jerky, and there’s quite a bit of flashing going on when many enemies are onscreen, but this doesn’t detract from the arcade feel top badly. Sound FX and the tune are similarly competent, though not startling.

And it’s great to play. While a tough battle even on the first level, you won’t get frustrated. There’s always something attacking you, so fast reactions are required as you jump and shoot your way through.

Plus the different aliens attack in their n own particular ways, so a tactical approach is required putting Alien Storm above many more mindless games of its kind. It’s very addictive, and the game continue option helps overcome any initial frustration with the difficulty of it {without revealing the higher levels too soon).

Certainly its major downfall is its lack of a two-player option. You either control Gordon or Slammer, but control of both, as is common in fighting games of this ilk, is not possible.

This may put off fans of Double Dragon and such games, who want to beat up the baddies with a friend (I like using my friends as weapons). If you’re unbothered by this deficiency yu won’t be disappointed. It’s got a good arcade feel and challenges enough not to give way too soon.

Despite all the omissions, Alien Storm is a surprisingly slick game with some very good graphics. The side-on view action is last and very well drawn, of course there’s flicker, but the enemies all have novel attack methods and your characters punch and kick if baddies get too close, or ammo runs out. The fast-scrolling running section is just as good, if not better — the screen really moves fast and it’s great fun. The 3-D shoot-‘em-up scene is tougher, but again the graphics are superb giving the Mega drive game a real run for its money. Gigeresque aliens are suitably repulsive and leap out at you with gusto!

Alien Storm has little that’s original about it, and four missions aren’t a huge amount, but there’s three different game-styles, nifty programming and real coin-op polish.

STU

Producer
Sega
GG
TBA
MD
Out Now
Memory
256K
Players
1
Price
£29.99

SF Rating

Presentation
80% - 3 continue-plays, useful game options
Visuals
76% - Arcade feel, often flashy and juddery
Sonics
75% - Reasonable tunes and adequate FX
Playability
82% - A feel to it that’ll have you fighting
Lastability
74% - Four missions but varied sub-sections

80%

If you don’t mind playing one at a time it’s a good ‘un

Rating
80
Reviewer
Sega Force magazine
Region
UK
Scans
Sega Force - Issue 02

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