Name: Alien Storm
Genre: Scrolling Beat em Up/ Shooter
Region Reviewed: Pal
Year of Release: 1990 (uk)
Now this is yet another of the games that flooded the market back in the 8 bit and 16 bit days, a side scrolling fighter/shooter, theres so many of these nobody could possibly name them all and like most genres there were good ones, terrible ones and every so often you got an absolute corker......
This is one of those last category ones!!!
The story is a bit of a cut and paste of most films at the time in that ALIENS are invading earth and the only people who stand in their way are not a bunch of shotgun toting American hillbillies, nope, it's a crack team of earth's finest warriors....Result!!!
Now a lot of games from this era had the classic choice of 3 playable characters, Golden Axe, Streets of rage, final fight etc etc etc and Alien Storm was another of these as well, this time round you could select from Garth,Karen and a robot called Scooter, all of them fitted the stereotype of massive hunky dude, sexy big breasted lady and the robot was of course quirky and had the best special move in the game. I wont spoil the special moves because they are so great to see for the first time but Scooters is wicked!!!
The megadrive version has 8 levels that pretty much all play the same with the exception of a couple of times when it becomes an operation wolf style shooter with you whizzing around the screen killing aliens in crazy places like a supermarket etc, these help to nicely break up the monotonous feeling traditional side scrolling beat em up / shoot em up parts, it's very refreshing and helps to make the pace of the game move along nicely.
It has a couple of classic mid and end of level boss fights with my favourite system of changing colours to indicate how close you are to killing it, I simply love that, it's such an early 90's thing and I miss it greatly. The megadrive version has a 2 player mode as well which of course makes everything so much better, i'm sure everyone on here has great memories of playing co-op on systems like the megadrive, it simply defined most childhoods, ahh great days.
It's possible that some of you on here have never played this game, it's mostly because it was sandwiched between releases of games such as Golden Axe and Streets of Rage and most people simply never ventured far from those 2 on the sega systems. Alien Storm didn't sell well at all which was a huge shame because it's absolutely brilliant and because of a poor reception and mixed reviews at the time the franchise never really took off. We never got a sequel to this and for me that's a huge shame because after seeing where Sega took games like Streets of Rage the mind boggles at what they could have done with this and especially the 3 characters in the game.
Graphics wise it's absolutely on a par with its peers and the soundtrack isn't half bad either, theres no slowdown moments to ruin your fun and the mix of shooting and close quarter beat em up animation flows perfectly. Alien Storm is a very solid game, it was back in 1990 and it still is now, for me its one of the very best non famous Sega games for the Megadrive and I honestly believe in many ways it surpasses Golden Axe. It has no real bad AI and no annoying instant death moments plus with 2 players co-op and 3 selectable characters theres always a reason to play it again and again.
Unlike Golden Axe and Streets of rage etc it has those lovely moments where gameplay style shifts so it never gets boring and repetitive, well not to me anyway. The fast scrolling running sections are also a huge standout feature and highlight how powerful the Megadrive was back in its day. It's not a huge game by any means and in co-op you'll do it in less than a hour but hard mode is rock hard plus it also has other modes such as Ranking etc to keep you entertained long after you see the end sequence.
Alien Storm is a real hidden gem if you ask me, im so happy I got to review it as I have been looking for an excuse to give it a whirl again, it still makes me smile after 23 years and surely that if nothing else makes it worth your while to check out.
Verdict:- A lovely reminder that if you look a little deeper into the back catalog from SEGA you will find some absolute gems, it ticks all the boxes for the genre and adds in some lovely unique and new elements.
It's criminal the franchise never took off and it's a shame so many people still have no idea about it, if you have yet to sample this game you are in for a treat, this is when SEGA made corkers, before Sonic and it's army of sequels and spin offs turned them into what felt like a one trick pony.
Second Opinion:- Transbot finds this review difficult to fault. 'Cept maybe it should be 11/10. Alien Storm is a very Transbot game for the system that was rather Transbot in itself.
Beautifully capturing that arcadey brilliance that made Transbots parents (Sega) so adored over the years with its as mentioned solid gameplay, great graphics and epic music. Transbot approves!
Transbot Scores:- 10 out of 10