There are some pages in Your Sinclair where you don't go alone. Marcus Berkmann grabs his smart gun, the clever dick, and gets spaced out in Aliens.
What a way to spend an afternoon. Stalking the corridors of a deserted base on a distant planet, forever on the lookout for evil, multi-limbed, acid-blooded alien creatures dedicated to my swift demise. Armed only with a computer-controlled smart gun (plus legs, for running), surrounded by bio-mechanoid growths in which human bodies are entombed, impregnated with alien embryos on the verge of a bloodcurdling 'birth'... it's probably just as well that I was only playing on my Spectrum.
You may recognise this grisly scenario as the starting point for Aliens, the deep-space horror flick that burst on the scene a couple of months ago (no doubt out of someones chest). Now, thanks to Electric Dreams, this terrifying experience has been transferred lock, stock and mandibles to your Spectrum. The result is a fast-moving arcade adventure that's bound to keep you awake at night well into the New Year.
Aliens the film takes us back to that planet, the catcholy named LV-426, where in the first film, Alien, the crew of the spaceship Nostromo encountered some very unusual wildlife. Ripley has escaped her original mega-jawed foe and blown up the Nostromo in the process. Returning to Earth 57 years later (she took the scenic route), shes been written off as a complete nutter. Until, of course, a human colony on LV-426 fails to report and she's sent back to investigate.
Aliens the game follows a similar course. Safe in your Mobile Tactical Operations Bay, you control the movements of six of the film's characters, all armed arid ready for trouble. The aim of the game is to regain control of the base by fighting back the alien warriors (which needs practice) and shooting away the bio-mechanoid growths as they appear on the walls. Your eventual target is the Queen Alien's chamber, deep in the most inaccessible part of the maze. (Now there's a surprise!)
Suddenly, when you're least expecting it. BLAM BLAM BLAM and the first of your characters is doomed to a spectacularly grisly demise. Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on your idea of fun - you don't get to see any of this, as your video connection with the character goes on the blink.
But never mind, the bits you do see will certainly keep you on your toes. The aliens themselves are ghoulishly accurate, especially when they're coming straight for you. And those slimy chunks of bio-mucus are flesh-creepingly and liberally splattered over tile walls. The rooms - all 255 of them - are similar m detail, though you're more likely to see guns in the armoury, medical supplies in the medical centre and so on.
So how to kill those facehuggin' chestburstin' little critters? One shot to the head will do it, if you're quick enough, or three to the body. But don't waste him (her? It?) in front of a door - the pool of acid blood left behind will make it impassable. Not that you'll find this a problem on your first few outings.
Aliens is enough of a challenge to keep you going for weeks/months/decades (depending on prowess). So, I reckon I'm going to be here for some time. And worse still, according to games designer Mark Eyles there's a twist in the tail for anyone who gets to the end - and isn't there always someone? But I can't tell you what it is - I never got there. And he wouldn't tell me, the newt!
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