Insert Disk collects Alien 3 for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Alien 3 for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic is based on the movie if the same name. You’ll be hunting down aliens, rescuing prisoners and avoiding having your face eaten off. This may be a movie to game ties in but it does at least get the feel of the series right. If you’re looking for some tough action platforming then Alien 3 could be for you.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. It’s been a while since I played a retro game based on a movie so today I thought that we would take a look back at Alien 3 for the Sega Mega Drive and Sega Genesis. Over the years there have been many Alien based games. Most notably the Alien Trilogy and Aliens Vs. Predator entries. Before these though Alien 3 saw a release on the 8-bit Sega Master System in addition to Sega’s 16-Bit consoles.
Historically the track record of movie to game conversions are very hit and miss, the games usually ending up being a cash in on a movies popularity. Financially speaking Alien 3 underperformed at the box office although I actually quite enjoy it to this day. There’s certainly worse sci-fi monster movies out there. Without ruining the movie it’s fair to say that the lead protagonist Ripley must survive the ordeal of crash landing in a high security prison facility. If that wasn’t bad enough it’s also infested with Aliens. Although the movie has a fair bit of action it’s difficult to describe as having a varied enough plot that would translate well to a game.
In the game your task is to rescue the captured prisoners before the face huggers burst from their chests and restart the cycle of Aliens. The format of the game is very much based on navigating large maze like levels. There’s all the expected platform elements such as ladders, moving platforms, tunnels and jumping sections. On the surface it’s a game that should work. There are a few issues though. Firstly are the Xenomorph Aliens. They will attack at extreme speed. There will be times that as soon as you see the Alien they are already on top of you. Even if you have lightning quick reflexes using the standard gun won’t always get the job done. By the time it takes to put enough bullets in to the Alien you are already down on the ground having your face eaten off.
In truth only the flame thrower and grenade launcher are a safe bet for taking the enemy down. Even then you will have to use the radar to anticipate their moves or memorise the maps. Aside from the combat difficulty the controls can feel a little awkward at times. It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly why I don’t feel fully in control when I play. There isn’t a lag in control but the animations just give the impression of a clumsy response rather than precision. You will find pickups on your way round the levels. Everything from extra health to additional weapons. Once you have freed all of the prisoners its off to the next stage. If you are looking to collect Alien 3 you can expect some solid presentation from the packaging. The Sega Mega Drive edition carries the full movie licence graphics and comes in the traditional Sega black plastic hard case.
Before a quick price check on the auction sites I had assumed that the game would have been at bargain bucket prices by now. Movie to game releases are usually produced at volume.
A cursory check of the online auctions though show that the game regularly sells for between £10 and £20 here in the UK. For the US NTSC version expect to pay around $10 to $20 for a complete copy. I’ll admit that this isn’t huge sums of money for a 16-bit Sega game but I am surprised that the game has held its value. The game play itself is perhaps not the main draw but the collectable tie in with the Alien franchise may have helped this on retain some value.
Its difficult to say whether Alien 3 is worth putting in your collection. Of course die hard Alien fans must own this one. For the more casual retro game collector though I think the jury could be out. Whilst practice does make the game more enjoyable as you get to grips with the learning curve I do get a nagging feeling that many gamers would feel frustrated rather than motivated to see the next level. The reason being is that all the levels really are just a variation on the same theme. Locate the prisoners, avoid the traps, kill the Aliens and repeat. The game backdrops do change although you will be very aware after a while that the tile set is the only element changing rather than the game play. The game does get a lot of elements right. The radar map, the look and feel of the Aliens and the grimy setting.
Alien 3 isn’t a bad game and it’s certainly not bad movie to game conversion. The final product though just lacks a little bit of scope and diversity in challenge. This game may not be one of my favourites but I can see its appeal for those that are looking for a challenging platformer. Make haste to put Alien 3 in you collection before time runs out…