The perfect handheld space marine game.
Most of the games I’ve played in the Alien series have sucked.* Which is particularly disappointing because I am such a huge fan of Alien. But Aliens Infestation breaks away from the rest, and is a noteworthy 2D side-scroller even if you’re not a fan of the franchise.
You start out a band of four colorful marines who are investigating a ship you soon find is overrun with Xenomorphs. You must creep, roll, run, jump, climb, and shoot your way through the missions while you take out rival military forces and the alien infestation. Each marine in your squad has a distinct personality, portrait and idle animation that gives surprising depth to their character. Not that you should get too attached to any of them because once killed they’re permanently dead. Of course the aliens would rather use your fallen marines as hosts, so if you’re fast you can sometimes rescue them from the alien nests. On the bright side, vacancies in your party allow you to recruit other survivors you encounter.
Anyway, without giving away too much, you’ll be able to pick up the obvious guns and a couple other cute toys along the way which open new areas for exploration, but the real treat is that the experience matches the mood of the original film. It’s tense, and exciting. Try to run around everywhere shooting haphazardly and you’ll find yourself out of ammo trapped in a room full of facehuggers or worse. Survival depends on creeping around carefully, constantly at the ready to blow away a xenomorph that just came out of the walls or dropped from the ceiling. More than once I’ve been startled enough to yell out expletives which also startles my wife,
making it fun for the whole family.
The pixel art is exceptional, it would probably look out of place on a big screen, but for a handheld it’s ideal. The controls are simple and intuitive. The sound effects are spot on. The only bumble is the soundtrack is repetitive and not particularity inspired. Still, I highly recommend this title.
If you don’t want to ebay an old Nintendo DS then I recommend you snag a copy of the game off Amazon and then the DraStic DS Emulator for Android. You can get the ROM from any number of places online but I recommend CoolRom. It took a little playing around with the screens and virtual controller options, but once I had it set up to my preference its been great.** Now get out there and give them hell.
* Important caveat; I have to admit that at the time of writing this that I haven’t played Alien Isolation, which by most accounts a great homage to the elements that made the original film so incredible. It’s looks really promising, so I hope to play it soon.
** A couple commentators complained that DraStic doesn’t have the ability to customize the virtual controller but they’re mistaken, it’s just obscure in the game menu. While playing a title, open the game menu, select ‘Edit Screens and Virtual Pad’, select the layout you want to customize, and then in the edit screen there’s a new menu button with the option ‘Edit Controller Layout’ where you can move or re-size buttons. You’re welcome.