Alien 3 for the Super Nintendo is based on the movie of the same name, but unlike the movie, this 2D platforming shooter has plenty of aliens to go around. You play as Lt. Ellen Ripley from the movie franchises and she’s up to her eyeballs in deadly aliens. Well the entire prison is overflowing with them. These creatures cling to the ceiling, pop out of eggs, jump and lunge. You’ve got plenty of health, guns, grenades and fire to dispatch the hideous creatures.
On the surface, the game seems a bit open. You can tackle the missions as you please and the game is sectioned off into levels. These levels all have the same types of rooms such as infirmaries, hives, main halls and junkyards. The rooms are attached to a hub area that you can travel through corridors or crawl through ducts to reach different locations.
Each one of these levels the same, you must complete six tasks to proceed. These tasks are free the captured prisoners, fry some eggs, seal doors, fix pipes and so on. So this means Ripley is more than a hero, she’s an exterminator and maintenance crew all at the same time.
To get these missions by visiting consoles in the hub area of each level. These consoles show you maps and locations of everything. You’ll need to remember them, because there’s no map on you. With every level being so redundant, the game makes good use of a password, because there’s just no diversity from level to level. Nothing makes one level feel special from the previous with the exception of the final level.
You have a three weapons at your disposal and each one uses its own ammunition, so you’ll need to risk yourself getting more ammo and health when you need it. The weapons feel fun and effective. You have a standard machine gun, a flame thrower for the eggs and a grenade launcher for the bigger enemies.
Ripley has a wide variety of motion and good animations. She can hang from hand rails, shoot in several directions and climb ladders. On paper she feels mobile, she can jump and cling onto ladders or drop from them, but it all feels stiff and awkward to control. The worst part of the game is Ripley’s mechanical jump. Its a forced long jump. So even when you jump straight up, she will still go forward. Its noticeable when she has to jump onto moving platforms.
Alien 3 a difficult game for several reasons, the first of which is you only have one life, but at least you have some health to keep you alive. The aliens are viscous and come from several different angles. With ammunition at such a premium, its better to dodge aliens when you can. Jump over them, run underneath them when they’re on the ceiling.
There are a few types of aliens that you’ll see a few thousand times. Face huggers that crawl on the ground and you’ll need to stop, crouch and shoot them. Otherwise you can risk an angled shot downward and possibly have one latching onto you. Bigger aliens take more damage, but the trade off is they’re easier to shoot. Eggs can only be destroyed when they’re open. Acid spitters run to you, before they skid to a halt and launch acid into the air.
To the game’s credit it feels so satisfying to destroy enemies. Its fun to shoot the aliens into little puddles of goo. Grenades are meaty and effective. The explosions rock the screen when they hit a target. They turn larger enemies into flying chunks.
The game makes good use of cut scenes and animations from the actual movie. It feels like a fitting tie in and a genre of game that I want to play. Even if it deviates from the movie’s premise of a single alien, I’d rather be fighting a few thousand aliens than setting up traps for just one.
The music is worth mentioning, its dark, sinister and yet militaristic. It fits the game along with the atmosphere of washed out dingy, gritty colors. The Super Nintendo has always been known for its amazing and bright, vibrant color pallet, but Alien 3 uses a lot of the lesser used colors. Dark grays, dingy greens, metal hues that really fit the theme. You have somewhat limited vision and the edges of the screen are always darkened off to make the game a bit more foreboding.
One thing notable is the fact that there are only a few boss fights throughout the game. Even the final boss fight is just a disappointing cut scene without a fight. In a way its sad so much work was put into the levels, enemies and mechanics that the bosses were an afterthought. Everything in the game is fair, but that’s it, just fair. Its still better than other games, but the challenge outweighs the fun and that’s never a good thing.
While this is a tough game, I still feel like its better than other similar games of the genre, but you have to know before you sit down to play through it, this will be an ordeal.