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Alien Hominid
  opened by paleface at 02:44:21 12/16/04  
  last modified by paleface at 01:33:26 09/20/05  
  paleface [sys=GC; cat=Platformer; loc=NA]
Reference added: 170
  "Alien Hominid is inspired by Metal Slug, but outdoes it in sheer chutzpah."
The rarest of beasties, a high-res 2D run-n-gun Metal Slug-style platformer made by a relatively independent Western developer. How many other games fall into that category? Uh, none that I can think of.
And it's too bad, really--we can only hope that developer Behemoth themselves do their utmost to fill this neglected genre, as they're off to a fantastic start here in their debut effort. Alien Hominid outdoes Metal Slug (see entry 170 for instance) by being even more over-the-top, even more stylized, and even more difficult.
The hand-drawn/Flash-style artwork was a stroke of genius (and it won't surprise you then to hear that the game originated as a web-based Flash game). Everything looks clear, sharp, cartoony and dynamic, with huge spastic sprites that clear the whole screen at a single bound. Everything boogies around, and screen-filling explosions are the norm. Sometimes the screen zooms in or out to fit in larger or smaller-scale action, and this works quite well. The multiple parallaxing is a joy to behold, and it all seems to animate at a fast, smooth pace.
The gameplay, son! Run along shooting things, or motor along shooting things in such things as commuter cars, armored cars, tanks, yeti, snowmobiles, or flying saucers. Every now and then your good buddy Fat Kid is there to hand you a weapon powerup for some real carnage. One hit and you're dead, but you get a good chunk of lives and continues. Still, I can't really get far yet except on the easiest difficulty level.
The occasional vehicle levels really change up the gameplay, expecially the one I've seen that is you in your spaceship, basically a multi-directional 2D shooter. Neat stuff.
One problem is that regular bullets are hard to see what with all the high-res shrapnel everywhere. But mostly it's the bosses that'll get ya--these mighty titans execute ruthless patterns that'll test your patience and reflexes pretty good. And yet they don't seem as hopelessly quarter-munching as the MS3 bosses: I feel like if only I can execute the counter-pattern regularly, I should beat 'em just fine. Of course, this is easier said than done. But you'll want to come back because they're just so impressive looking and, better yet, creative, each one having a new type of attacks and vulnerability. And just wait until you find the entirely superfluous but hilarious wood-chipper. ;)
Speaking of superfluous, your little alien hominid can do a couple moves that complicate the controls without in the main adding much to the action. You have left/right roll buttons, a button that will make you burrow into the earth for a while (from here you can reach up and grab people), and if you jump on someone's head you can bite it off. These are cute, and give you "style" points, and once in a while a boss requires that you ditch out by burrowing, but I would'a been a little happier if they had streamlined the controls a bit, particularly because with all these buttons, esp the shoulder roll buttons, you can't really play this very effectively on an arcade stick, which is what the digital 2d control is just begging for.
But anyway the main game is just the tip of the iceberg. A handful of minigames unlock quickly. Many of these are, like the main game, co-op affairs, although some are competitive vs things. They're mostly old quickly, but "Soviet Missile Mastar" or whatever, a super-blocky horizontal flying thing, is a real hoot.
Then there are the "PDA" games: 200 levels of miniature greyscale jump-n-run platforming for 1-4 players in which you simply try to jump on the heads of all the baddies and get to the exit. It's kind of weird in that if you die but someone else doesn't, you have to wait for them to finish or something--so I'm not sure how well this will really work with four players. Have to try it. If you get through all 200 PDA levels (as with the main game you can always restart at the last level you were on before, so this may not be as impossible as it sounds), pop into the Level Editor mode and make your own. The PDA thing really is a game unto itself, and it's a great extra.
Finally, I think, you unlock custom hats for your little hominid as you play through. There are a bunch of these, from bear-ears to commie-hats to beehive hairdos. Another entirely superfluous but appreciated touch.
We did encounter a crash after playing co-op through pretty far: my partner ran out of continues, I beat the boss, and suddenly it was stuck on a white screen with a .cpp error message. Ech.
Despite that one crash, I have to say that this game turned out awesome and I eagerly await Behemoth's next effort.
  paleface 02:50:49 12/16/04
Download added: missilemastar.jpg (27867 bytes)
  "Headin' the missile for the States again in Missile Master minigame."
Just to make it absolutely clear: the game supports progressive scan. Yay!
  paleface 02:51:27 12/16/04
Download added: missilemastarpwned.jpg (20646 bytes)
  "The Soviets know how to celebrate clearing a level in Missile Mastar."
Sorry, that's "Missile Mastar."
  paleface 02:52:33 12/16/04
Download added: snowmobile.jpg (57494 bytes)
  "Snowmobiles are fun, but crash easily."
That last was PDA mode. Gad, I'm losing it.
  paleface 01:33:26 09/20/05
Sitting and watching people play this, I notice that the framerate is a little low; not horribly so, but the effect over time makes me a little woozy. I wonder if I can overclock my GC.
· Metal Slug 3 (PS2)

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