Release Date: 1982
Publisher: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Arcade – Pac-Man
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: 11006
Programmer: Doug Neubauer
This is one of the more confusing movie adaptations in video game history.
This is based on the movie Alien, which to this day remains one of the most tense, suspenseful, and terrifying films in cinematic history. While nobody expected the Atari 2600 to be able to accurately capture the tension and fright of the film, pretty much everyone expected the game to be something more than the Pac-Man clone than it is.
So if you have played Pac-Man you know the basic premise of the game. You have to run around a maze while being chased by a handful of creatures (in this case Aliens instead of ghosts) while trying to collect all of something (Alien eggs instead of pellets). There are random bonus point prizes that pop up from time to time, as well as a teleport system that will take you from one side of the screen to the other. There are power pellets that show up one at a time in the maze that will let you turn the tide on your pursuers. Which in this case is a bit strange since it allows you to defeat the Alien by what looks like eating them. When you come into contact with one of them the game freezes for a moment while they shrink down into nothing. Guess the food supply in space is a bit lacking.
There are a couple of new wrinkles thrown in that sets Alien apart from other Pac-Man clones. The most obvious is the fact that you have a flamethrower that you can use on the Aliens. While it won’t kill them, it will chase them away, which is nice if you are boxed in and need a quick escape. The flamethrower is limited to only a few seconds on each level, and isn’t foolproof as if you don’t time it just right the Alien won’t be affected. The other thing is that after you complete each level you are sent to a bonus stage for a try at a points giving prize. This is pretty much a direct ripoff of Freeway, in that you have to run in a straight line to the top of the screen while avoiding Aliens that are darting across the screen. Oh, and while most people would consider patience a virtue, it isn’t one on the bonus stage since you have mere seconds to make it to the top.
The only other thing worth noting is that even though this is a Pac-Man clone, it is actually much better than the port of Pac-Man for the 2600. Plus you get a flamethrower, so it’s kind of hard to go wrong. If you are a fan of the genre check it out.