Advent Calendar - December 8th.

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

Alien8 (ZX Spectrum)

I loved my Commodore 64, and not for a moment did I wish I'd got a Spectrum instead. But if there was one way I was jealous of my Speccy-owning mates, it can be summed up in four words: Ultimate: Play The Game.

No point walking on eggshells... get a move on!

What a company they were. Of course, they went on to become Rare in later years, but it was as Ultimate that they made a hell of a name for themselves. And they made that name with awesome games. Atic Atac, Underwurlde, JetPac, Knight Lore... and they went on, with seemingly not a single misfire. I was envious, because although Ultimate had a presence on the C64, they released far fewer games and the quality just wasn't there. And those marquee titles never made the leap...

I often played JetPac and Knight Lore on friends' Spectrums, but I have to say I never got a chance to play Alien8. The sequel to Knight Lore, it sees you as a robot on a spaceship... a spaceship carrying the inhabitants of a dying planet to safety, a new life, a new beginning...

The purple spike room was not Alien8's favourite.

You're just there as housekeeping, making sure everything keeps running as it's meant to. So as you approach your destination, it's a bit of a shocker to have the ship attacked by aliens and to see all life support systems damaged... Your job is to get all the life support systems back online and restore the cryogenic systems to operation, so that the ship can reach its destination with the inhabitants intact and alive.

If there's one common thread that runs through these isometric 3D games, it's that they're rock hard, and Alien8 is no exception. I played half a dozen games before I found anything interesting at all, but once I'd got a bit more to grips with it, I started to make some kind of progress, and then I started to enjoy it. That's the thing... they can be very frustrating games when you're just seeing the first half a dozen screens over and over again, although the fact you have a pool of different start screens helps.

OK, now this room is just a cluttered mess.

Alien8 is probably a better game than Knight Lore, even if just marginally. There's no "change" animation in this game, which serves for the better... in the original game, too much of your time was wasted watching your character become a werewolf. That said, this game has less character, less personality than Knight Lore. But it's a massive challenge, a real test of your platforming skills and a really good example of the early days of arcade adventures.