A Look Back on the ALIENS Franchise in Video Games

A Look Back on the ALIENS Franchise in Video Games

ALIEN has created an amazing movie franchise directed by some of the movie industry’s best directors. Some of the directors include Ridley Scott, David Fincher, and James Cameron. With the success of the franchise, it naturally expanded to include video games, comic books, and toys. 

The movie portrayed a terrifying world of creatures beyond human comprehension. These creatures were often in a fiery and violent clash with humans, who decided that the extermination of these alien threats crucial for survival. This storyline was not just captivating for movies; it created the perfect recipe for a video game.

The ALIEN video games franchise mostly belongs to the adventure and strategy genre. Many of them were action video games with the player constantly feeling the need to kill the aliens to get to the desired destination. In some others, the player must adopt survival tactics such as hiding, climbing trees, and other strategies.

Join us as we look back at the video games of the ALIENS franchise.

ALIEN: Atari 2600 (1982)

ALIEN (1982)

Fox Video Games published the ALIEN video game for Atari 2600 in 1982. While this was the first attempt at making an ALIEN video game, it supplied glimpses of what was to come from the Alien video games franchise. Doug Neubauer, a popular game writer at the time, designed this game.

The player of the game controls a human who the fiery-looking Xenomorphs chase around the map. Although the player has an advantage of a weapon that could immobilize the aliens for some time, his goal, which is to destroy the aliens’ eggs, was no easy task.

The video game received a mixed reception on its release. While some praised it, others tagged it as a poor show. However, at the time of its release, the public considered video games as children’s entertainment, so the game toned down the R-Rated violence from the films. Furthermore, the Atari’s graphics could only create simple graphics, so there was no detail present in the designs.

ALIEN (1984)

ALIEN (1984)

Concept Software developed the 1984 ALIEN video game for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. Meanwhile, Argus Press Software published the game. The 1984 ALIEN video game is a single-player game that belongs to the adventure and strategy genre, like most of the Alien video game franchises. 

The player is responsible of leading the crew members in search of an alien. Although the game grants access to objects such as pistols and nets, the crew members’ emotional status changes when asked to pick a gun. That emotional reflection on its own reflects a development from the former.

Although the 1984 ALIEN video game developed from an earlier game from 1982, it also received mixed reception for the poor graphics and color. But this was 1984. Could it have been better?

ALIENS: The Computer Game (US) (1986)

ALIENS The Computer Game

The 1986 Aliens was a product with Brad Fregger at the helm. Then, Activision developed and published the game for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. The game was a typical adventure game that involved fighting off aliens on the desired destination path. The game player must select his weapon in fighting off aliens that appear on his path.

The choice of weapons was an advancement to the earlier franchise of the Alien video game. The game received a positive reception from the public. 

ALIENS: The Computer Game (EUR) (1987)

ALIENS The Computer Game

Following Aliens US’s earlier production in 1986, another franchise came out in 1987 with the same name. The Software Studios developed ALIENS: The Computer Game while Electric Dream Software published it for Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and the ZX Spectrum.

This franchise of Aliens was quite complicated than the franchises made before it. The player is in control of a human who will meet several aliens that they must kill. Even after the death of Xenomorphs, he must avoid the acid blood that comes from them. The player must continuously kill the aliens until the human encounters an Alien Queen that they must kill.

The game received mixed reactions from the public, specifically because it did not look like any of the original movie franchises at the time of its release.

ALIENS: ALIEN 2 (1987)

ALIENS ALIEN 2

Square developed and published Alien 2 for the MSX computer system. Even though they created and released this game for the Japanese market, both an English and Katakana title were present on the packaging.

For the first time in the game franchise, the player controls a human who has a gun that enables him to see the aliens around him. The game referred to this gun as the “Shot Gun”. While Square had planned to release the game to the Famicon Disk System, they eventually canceled these plans.

The game received a glowing reception from critics and the audience.

ALIENS: Arcade (1990)

ALIENS Arcade

Konomi developed and published the 1990 arcade video game, ALIENS. In this game, the player chooses either the character of Ellen Ripley or Corporal Hicks. Whichever his choice, each of them has a smart gun that receives upgrades as the game continues.

The character is also on an adventure where different aliens attack him until he faces a super alien at the end of each level. The player must be conscious of his health points which drop anytime the character receives a hit by an alien. 

ALIEN 3 (1992)

Alien 3

Probe Software developed ALIEN 3 then Acclaim Entertainment published it for the Amiga, Commodore 64, Sega Master System. Later, in 1993, Acclaim released versions for the NES and Sega Master Drive/Genesis. Finally, in 1994, Acclaim released one last version for the Sega Game gear. Meanwhile, Bits Studios developed the Game Boy version of the game in 1993. The 1992 game was an advancement on the 1990 Arcade. The game continues the shoot and run narrative but in a more complex form with more improved alternatives.

The player can now direct the character to close doors, free prisoners, and be involved in other activities that the game’s various levels call for. Each level also has a goal and carries a time limit.

The game won the best movie game in the Golden Mega Awards in 1993, while it won the best action-adventure game in 1994. It was a highly received game among critics and game lovers.

ALIEN 3 (1993): The Gun

ALIEN 3 The Gun

Sega developed and published The Gun in 1993 for arcades. The Gun is a specific type of gun used by the players in the game. It was meant to depict the machine guns used in the movie. The game has seven distinct levels, and each end with a confrontation with a super alien.

Unfortunately, Sega only ever released this game to Japanese arcades, so Americans never had a chance to play it.

ALIENS – A Comic Book Adventure (1995)

ALIENS A Comic Book Adventure

Cryo Interactive Entertainment developed the 1995 video game, ALIENS – A Comic Book Adventure. Meanwhile, Mindscape published it for MS-DOS. Cryo Interactive loosely based the game on the popular Dark Horse ALIEN comic books.

The player takes the role of a colonel who is inquiring the root of a distressed call received. He faces several aliens along with this task, and he must destroy all to stand a chance.

The movie earned a positive reception, especially because it portrayed the comic book properly.

ALEIN: Trilogy (1996)

ALIEN Trilogy

Probe Entertainment developed the 1996 video game, ALIEN: Trilogy. Meanwhile, Acclaim Entertainment published it for PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC. The trilogy is a 30-level video game with the player in possession of different weapons. Along with the levels, the player faces three Alien Queens in the movie game.

The movie earned a warm reception due to its close resemblance to the first three alien movie franchises.

ALIENS Online (1998)

ALIENS Online

Mythic Entertainment and Kesmai developed the ALIENS Online video game while GameStorm published it for Microsoft Windows. The Aliens online is a multiplayer game involving two players who may choose to fight on the side of aliens or the US Colonial Marines. If the player chooses the latter, players have an advantage over advanced machines, while the former gives the players an advantage of super abilities that the Queen has.

Although the movie received positive reception, an online multiplayer’s release in 1998 could not be flawless.

ALIEN Resurrection (2000)

ALIEN Resurrection

Argonaut Games developed the ALIEN: Resurrection game in 2000. Meanwhile, Fox Interactive published the game exclusively for PlayStation. Like the earlier games for the franchise, the game is a first-person shooter genre. A cloned Colonel Ripley and others prepared to escape from the aliens extracted from the queen. To escape, each level requires the player to kill the clones and find a way to detach themselves from the implanted alien before it opens and the game ends.

ALIENS Extermination (2006)

ALIENS Extermination

Global VR published ALIENS Extermination in 2006 for arcades while Play Mechanix developed it. In this game, the player must kill several aliens and synthetics. In the process, the player faces a synthetic renowned for his buzz saw. If he overcomes, the player also faces a winged alien with a dragon-like shape.

If the player successfully overcomes those foes, he then faces an alien queen in a bid to destroy the colony. The alien queen is excessively strong and very difficult to suppress.

Although this game earned a warm reception, it did not look like the earlier franchises of the alien movies.

ALIENS Infestation (2011)

ALIENS Infestation

Wayforward Technologies and Gearbox Software developed Alien infestation while Sega published the game for the Nintendo DS. The player in the alien infestation must search for their means of survival and protective equipment. The character searches for weapons, keys, and other valuable materials crucial to its survival.

The player also controls the character to upgrade his weapons before facing the alien queen. The upgraded weapons make the final fight white easy for the hero. 

ALIENS Colonial Marines (2013)

ALIENS Colonial Marines

Gearbox Software infamously developed Colonial Marines. Meanwhile, Sega published the game to PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game supplies a single-player, multiplayer, or cooperative gameplay option. The player controls the character to move from one checkpoint to another, killing aliens along the line and retrieving their weapons.

Unfortunately, controversy and many bugs mired the game’s reputation. First, Gearbox had shown the public “gameplay” footage that was a fabrication of pre-rendered graphics that never appeared in the game itself. The AI for the Xenomorphs, which Gearbox had advertised as complex and top-of-the-line, constantly ran straight at the player without much intelligence behind it. Hackers later found that a word “tether” had been typed as “Teather” in the official release of the game’s code, which created the bugs in the AI’s behavior.

Worse still, while Gearbox Software received credit for developing the game, they instead outsourced the primary development to another company, TimeGate Studio. This occurred because Gearbox had a critical success with Borderlands, so they decided to dedicate their efforts to a sequel. Thus, Gearbox was creating promotional material while they had not properly worked or looked at the game.

ALIEN Isolation (2014)

ALIEN Isolation

Creative Assembly developed the 2014 video game, ALIE: Isolation, for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Meanwhile, Sega published the game. Rather than creating an action-oriented product like earlier ALIEN games, Creative Assembly set out to create a survival horror where avoiding enemies was the primary goal. The player must be mindful of different enemies on his path before arriving at the desired destination, especially the titular ALIEN.

The game also featured Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, who is looking for clues on her mother’s disappearance. While she has no combat experience, she has survival features such as hiding under the table, climbing trees, and others.

ALIENS Armageddon (2014)

ALIENS Armageddon

Play Mechanix and Raw Thrills developed the 2014 game, ALIENS Armageddon for arcades. ALIENS Armageddon has an art style that resembles “Terminator Salvation”, a game that Play Mechanix also developed. The player must control his character to fight off aliens as mankind’s only hope of survival was escaping to a cargo ship.

Conclusion

The Alien video game franchise continues with the latest sequels characterized by advanced graphics and better storylines. The franchise is still one of the longest movie video game franchises.


About the author

Author: Chris Ingledue 

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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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A Look Back on the ALIENS Franchise in Video Games
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A Look Back on the ALIENS Franchise in Video Games
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Join us as we take a look back on the ALIENS franchise and the video games that it has spawned. From the Atari era to the latest generations!
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