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 someone's chest) Now, thanks to Electric Dreams, this terrifying experience has 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 lakes us back to that planet, the calchily 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), she's 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 and 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 the walls. The rooms - all 255 of them - are similar in 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 ham (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 in 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 tale 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!
Aaargh! This should tell you that unless you get a bit of a move-on, you are in very deep trouble indeed. In fact you can still atomise the cheery little chap, but I wouldn't hang about. (This screenshot was photographed at great personal risk.)
Here's the motely crew n your control. It's unwise to go it alone 'cos a solo soldier makes easy pickings for an alien. Keep your troops moving in groups and in close-contact. That way, if an alien strikes and a comrade gets captured, at least there'll be someone close at hand to come to the rescue. Strange things happen in space - if you're in a room with another character you won't actually see them. Maybe you're standing back to back and turning together?
You're in the base, all is deathly silent and there's nothing to be seen until... Suddenly you hear a loud beeping alarm that alerts you to an alien's presence. Your heart begins to pound as the alarm gets faster indicating that the alien is closing in... The alien slithers into sight... What are you going to do now?The door - your only escape, Useless of course, you've shot the lock, in which case you'll have to blast your way out leaving it wide open for the aliens to follow.If you're being chased by a horde of aliens - and it'll happen - you can blow the lock and keep them out. It won't stop 'em coming through the air ducts, though.Bio-mechanoid gunk strewn around the walls spells trouble. In small doses it may just mean an alien warrior. Further on in the game, look out for face huggers and alien eggs.Meet Vasquez - the character you're controlling. Should she be knocked off, her face will be replaced by a grinning alien's - another way of saying "you're not very good at this, are you?"Top up your ammo by visiting the armoury. Leave one of your crew members there to be on hand when someone runs out of bullets - if anyone ever gets that far, that is.Vasquez is under attack in room 4. Loud alarms (well, loud for the Spectrum) sound out.As you only get a measly 100 points for every alien warrior and just five for each strand of bio-gunk, this eight-figure number should indicate just how many aliens you can expect to be attacked by. In space, no-one can hear you sigh...Here are your character's Bio-functions (and you thought it was just a squiggly line). Always useful to keep your eye on this - if it goes straight, your character's kaput. And we all know what that means!With his bio-monitor now an elegant shade of black, Hicks is no more. Both he and Bishop died in Room 17, which seems a good enough reason not to go back there.The bio-monitor turns yellow when your character's been captured. From there on it gets worse - red means impregnated, black means dead. Pass the sick bag.Ripley's green bio-monitor means she's still relatively healthy. The length of the bar indicates stamina, which diminishes quickly when she's on screen.He may look harmless but wait until he notices you. Then you'll have about 0.02 of a second to zap him to kingdom come. (Watch out for the exploding head effect - ugh!)
LOST IN SPACE?
Although a map is provided with the game, you don't get the all-important room numbers along with it. So, to start you off, here are a few of the more vital rooms to visit...