Format: Sega Megadrive / Genesis
Do you remember when you used to be able to buy game cartridges with 3 video games on it for the Sega Megadrive/ Sega Genesis and they usually included one absolute belter? The Mega Games collections where absolute legendary when I was younger especially Mega Games 2 which included only the finest of fine titles; Revenge of Shonobi, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe. This combination was simply impossible to follow from and Mega Games 3 was almost a complete dud by comparison barr one saving grace: Alien Storm, a game in the same vein of the bigger Sega hits but had you fending of an alien invasion from our beautiful and luscious planet.
Do you know what planet you’re saving Billy? It’s earth!
It would’ve been easy to dismiss Alien Storm as a cash grab based solely on the success of Streets of Rage and Golden Axe but you would be very, very wrong – firstly because Streets of Rage was released about the same time. Sure, you can’t help but pick up on the similarities particularly with Golden Axe such as the option of three playable characters – a man, a woman and what I would like to call the ‘it‘ which in Golden Axe was a skirt-wearing dwarf and in Alien Storm is a smooth and sexy robot with an electrocuting whip for her pleasure.
Alien Axe / Golden Storm
The graphical style is very much on point with Golden Axe albeit set in modern times. In fact you could probably go so far as to say these were made by the same developer… And you’d be, more or less, correct. At the time Sega had several in-house teams working on a variety of projects including all the quality titles you probably remember from the the early 90s and one such team, AM1, were the bodies behind both Golden Axe and Alien Storm therefore proving my new theory that they had some creative naming genius. As a side, mixing these names around would lead to more awesomeness such as Golden Storm or Alien Axe.
Alien Storm and the Alien Busters
Alien Storm takes place in the modern day of 1990 and has you taking control of an Alien Buster one of earth’s prime line of defence against the ravenous, human hungry horde who are in the process of casually invading the planet with such cunning close quarters tactics as impersonating post boxes and bins to slowly creep up behind unsuspecting citizens and, of course, you every time you stop punching, kicking and shooting every goddamn thing in open sight.
Range attacks are not in the standard move-set but in certain sectors of the game shooting alien scum from a distance becomes a standard. You’ve the Sega standardised ‘running’ bonus levels that play out like some weird version of R-type without the verticality and with a more faux 3D plane approach. These sections will see you storming the aliens (obligatory pun) and usually involve you catching up on an alien dispensing spaceship flying dangerously close to street level because the pilots clearly have balls of steel or at least have learned 90s earth’s one secret weakness – our incredibly straight roads lacking any turns whatsoever. Thankfully your straight shooting also almost always guarantees a direct hit of your temporary ranged weaponry which if you choose the Alien Buster, Karen, fires mini balls of flame because conventional flamethrowers aren’t terrifying enough.
Variety is the spice of human life
Alien Storm introduces more range combat in its rail shooter segments usually at the end of missions. The game enters a first person viewpoint, the screen shows a reticle of where you are aiming and then let’s you go to town on the store or building you are in with your ghostbuster-esque energy beams. My favourite thing about this whole idea is that everything in front of you is destructible and the game actually rewards you for ruining the building your in by providing energy, to keep your weapon blasting, within various destructible objects. I’m pretty sure these were meant to be destroyed as you miss the various aliens jumping around in front of you and towards you but it’s usually just to vaporise the entire room in front of you and in turn wipe the vile alien pricks from our precious indoors.
Despite these wilder segments of gameplay the rest of the action is fairly standard for Sega titles of the time as I’ve previously stated. This is evidenced by the control scheme that allowed for short range attacks, a jump and a special attack that in reality would wipe out a few square acres of a city. Our male protagonist, Garth, has a special attack that involves a gigantic warship perform a nice, healthy amount of carpet bombing, Karen’s (the female character) involves a nuke landing on your current location and Scooter’s (the It player) has him blow up his body leaving just his head behind which he runs back into frame to collect and reattach as if nothing ever happened. Despite the massive explosives and damage your character is never injured by the wanton destruction and it’s never really brought up in the story that you have such ludicrous firepower available to you.
Tfw when a video game says “The End”
In all there’s about 10 or so stages to play through of Alien Storm and as is the tradition later levels see you come across bosses from earlier stages spiking the game difficulty as you already begin to run low on lives, the olden equivalent of bullshit DLC practices we have today. Thankfully the game is super enjoyable and getting through the late game to the credits is pretty satisfying especially when you get rewarded with the Alien Busters in comic poses and a few sneaky bonus missions. If you haven’t been murdered or eaten by the invading alien forces yet Alien Storm should definitely be on your list of games to play in the next few weeks.
My retro review score: