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Alien Storm Mega Drive Review

SEGA had a real knack for making great beat-em-ups and while you’ll often hear about titles such as Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, Alien Storm doesn’t really get the praise it deserves. Alien Storm ramps up the silliness and it follows a team of alien busters who take up arms when the planet is invaded by a dangerous alien race. The game is an extremely comical one and comes across as a strange blend of Ghostbusters and The Thing.

You can choose one of three alien busters; Garth, Karen and Scooter. Each has a series of ground attacks, a special move, a rolling ability as well as the ability to run. Combining your run with a roll allows you to perform an air attack. Special moves also deplete an orange energy gauge that can be filled with energy canisters that scatter the stages. Special mention has to be given to Scooter’s special move which literally sees him self-destruct before he runs back on screen to re-attach his head.

However, Alien Storm is not all about traditional beat-em-up action. The game adds two alternative modes of play that are frequently brought into action throughout the game. The first are the shooting gallery segments. These are as simple as they sound; you control a reticule and you have to shoot everything that moves before it can harm you. Shooting the environment can also uncover health upgrades as well as energy canisters.

The other alternative mode of play is more akin to a shoot-em-up. Your character begins to run at inhuman speeds and you have to shoot oncoming enemies while avoiding their attacks. The game’s sense of humour comes into play during these sections as you often find moments where the character jumps great distances in a superhuman fashion and it’s really funny to watch.

All of these three modes of play work together magnificently and they’re actually experienced in fairly short bursts of gameplay. This means that they never outstay their welcome but sadly this also shortens the game to the point that in can be completed in less than thirty minutes. This was always a problem with SEGA’s arcade conversions as the games are not meant to be played for long periods of time as the arcade equivalent is made to squeeze every last fifty pence piece from your wallet.

Thankfully the sheer number of different enemy types also keeps the game interesting. There is a vast selection of different aliens to dispatch and they range from funny little blobs that hide under trashcans and mailboxes to some rather disturbing bosses that include mutant tanks that have faces like a witch. If the game’s tone wasn’t so daft, some of these enemy designs could haunt an impressionable child for life.

The game is also fairly pretty to look at for such an early Mega Drive release. Sprites are big and detailed and the character animations are wonderfully drawn and full of humour. The shooting galleries are exceptional detailed and they look fantastic as they’re slowly destroyed thanks to your efforts. Sound is nothing to write home about as the soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable and the sound effects are relatively weak. For some reason a sound that can only be described as a cross between rumbling thunder and a sly fart has been used for when enemies are dispatched and it’s a bit underwhelming.

Regardless, Alien Storm does far more right than it gets wrong. The game is a fast-paced, cartoony brawler that delivers some of the best arcade beat-em-up action available on the Mega Drive. The game is not a particularly difficult one to find so Mega Drive owners looking to start a collection should definitely consider tracking down an inexpensive copy.


Written by Lewis “Sonic Yoda” Clark on 28/01/2015

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