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US Gold Ltd
1991
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£10.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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56,57
Mark Caswell, Nick Roberts
Chris Bourne

HELP! HELP! THE ALIENS HAVE LANDED! 'THAT'S ALRIGHT!' SAYS MARK CASWELL, 'I'LL JUST NIP OVER TO THE BURGER CAFÉ AND GET SOME HELP!' HE'S OBVIOUSLY, STARK, STARING BONKERS. OH, WELL…

Look. I'm not bonkers at all. For many years people have claimed to see strange lights in the sky and to have met little green men. Most thought them mad or senile, but there's a band of serious UFO watchers who've anticipated the invasion plans that are to materialise. They set up the Burger Cafe as a cover with three of their best operatives to watch the skies.

And - behold! - the aliens arrive! So, it's just as well Gordon, Karla and Scooter (the heroic Alien Busters) are ready to thwart the plans of the bug-eyed monsters who want to take over the planet. That's where the game begins.

The aliens are carrying out raids on Earth from a huge mothership, hidden from radar by alien technology, and what's more, the aliens are disguising themselves as everyday objects: they appear as potted plants, telephone boxes, dustbins and other unlikely objects.

THE GAME ITSELF!
Alien Storm is a one or two player game and starts with a choice of a character to play. Each carries two guns: a really, reeeeeally huge intimidating jobbie to blow away big targets (that also makes a really great noise), plus a standard gun for small annoying aliens who sidle up and try to bite your leg off.

Agility is the characters' strong point: they leap and roll, avoiding the bug eyed beasties niftily. Offense tactics (guns aside) include clubbing the aliens over the bonce and blasting them with smart bombs.

STYLISH FUN
The game has three game-styles which pop up from level-to-level.

Style number one is a bit Golden Axe-ish (ie, fight the creepies on the current screen and then move onto another location and do away with a few more). Set on the streets, all is pretty quiet until something wanders along that wouldn't look out of place in the worst anchovy pizza-induced nightmare. Adversaries appear alone, and sometimes in groups, but most are camouflaged as everyday objects and leap out on you as you pass.

A press of the fire button soon whips you into action, although whether you fire the really huge or the not-so-huge gun is chosen by the computer, as is smashing the living daylights out of the scum with your rifle butt.

Your energy level rapidly depletes: energy capsules can be collected when certain adversaries bite the dust, but you often die quicker than capsules are collected (ain't that always the way?). Destroy all the aliens on that bit and onwards you progress

THE RUNNING VERY FAST BIT
A change of gameplay follows: we call it the 'running very fast bit' 'cos that's what it's all about. The screen scrolls horizontally from left to right, and the computer controls the firing of your unfeasably large weapon. All you have to do is move your character up and down the screen to shoot the bug eyed swines. Simple, fun and (in a strange sort of way) quite relaxing.

A third play variation occurs every couple of levels, and sees our heroes battling it out with the aliens in a shop. The view is through the characters' eyes, and in true Op Wolf style a floating cursor allows you to aim your weapon. Monsters attack you from behind well-stocked shelves: create complete havoc and splatter them across the counters. It's a super section and refreshingly different from the other game styles.

IT'S ALL RATHER VIOLENT, THEN?
Indeed it is! The game is amazingly close to its coin-op parent: fast, violent and, most important of all, playable (thank heavens). Aliens certainly come in some weird and wonderful shapes, and are very often amusing in their disguises. As with all games with two player mode, Alien Storm is at its best when a mate joins in: it certainly needs two of you to get past some of the horrors you meet up with.

It's a wonderful conversion, spiffy in fact. So, pick up that huge gun (it's siting there in the corner) and prepare to go wild (I did!).

MARK … 90%

CRITICISM

'This is one wicked game! It combines the best features from shoot-and beat-'em-ups into one, with different styles of gameplay and some impressive presentation to top it all off. What makes Alien Storm stand out from the crowd is the three different game styles to each mission, which gives the game welcome variety. I've been playing Alien Storm for quite a while now and I reckon I'll be playing it heaps more - it's a brilliant conversion of a highly playable coin-op.' NICK … 88%

A winning and varied coin-op conversion to shoot and beat away boredom.

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EEK, IT'S A LOAD OF ALIENS! (NO, IT'S THE PROGRAMMERS)

The folks behind Alien Storm are Manchester based Tiertex. The programmers prefer to remain anonymous (shy lot), but they have previously worked on Italy 1990, Dynasty Wars, UN Squadron for US Gold. The team's favourite game section is the 3D shoot-'em-up because 'it's great fun to destroy the backgrounds', although this was by far the trickiest section of the three to program, 'because it's a four-level overlay parallax scroller with sprites needing to walk between all levels' (whatever that means).

The game is a simultaneous two-player affair, but it could have been players! However, that would have resulted, due to memory restrictions, in the characters all looking the same (boring, not to say confusing!). Aliens come in 16 different types, and the number of animations ranges from three for the blobby ones to 12 for the tentacled beasts. Ah, who cares? As long as the bloomin' thing's playable - which it is! Hurrah!

Screenshot Text

Karla and Gordon on their way to face the bug eyed monsters in Alien Storm.

You can't tell head from tail on this creature (then again, maybe it has neither).

Oh no - pizza nightmare!

The 'running very fast' bit (obviously) has you pegging it along with all the speed of Nick chasing the chip van (ie, very fast!).

Oh look! It's the Eurovision Song Contest judging panel. Hah! Your song's a dud, matey and (Right) no alien is going to get that last box of Weetabix!