Alien Hominid is an unusual title, with humble beginnings as an online Flash game, and then eventually making its way to the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in North America. Then, despite the GameCube version actually out-performing the PS2, the game came to Europe on the PS2, with a new XBOX edition created and the GC one just left to fade into the memories of Americans. Thankfully, though, us European Nintendo fans seem to have got the last laugh...
The Behemoth is the originally developer of Alien Hominid and ZOO Digital published the home console version here in Europe. Now, for the GBA edition, Tuna Technologies was enlisted to scale the game down onto the GBA without losing too much integrity. After all, the little alien's plight is all about intense action as it attempts to dodge the on-coming attacks from identikit FBI agents in an effort to locate his ship and travel back home. None of the charm could be sacrificed in the new version. And thankfully it certainly looks like it is a case of 'job well done'. Well, since the same team ported the game to mobiles and even the Gizmondo in 2005, you would hope it would be able to cope with Nintendo's little buddy.
Hominid was characterised to begin with by its unique appearance courtesy of Dan Paladin, which led to surprisingly one of the most attractive 2D gaming experiences of this generation. However, as soon as the GBA version was announced, despair rung across the Internet. Yet now looking at the final result and all you can be is overly pleased. Okay, so maybe some of the crisp definition and textures have gone out of the window. But that artistic approach remains true, with wacky, zany colours and backgrounds. The characters' movements are all as smooth as could be expected on the less powerful system and the amount of action going on at any one time leaves you wondering just how the GBA is not on its hands and knees begging for it to all stop! Some jiggery pokery has been used here and AH is all the better for it...
Sound effects are always a point of contention, especially in blasting titles such as this. The reason being is that ridiculously loud weapon noises can grow immensely tiring and grate like fingernails down a blackboard. But the ones in Alien Hominid strike a perfect balance, meaning that when you eventually leave the game behind, there is a pleasant feeling tickling your cochlea, rather than a deep ache in your eardrum. Ice-forming quickly on enemies, *crunch*; lasers slicing agents in half *slice*; and buildings collapsing *boom*; every scenario is catered for and the vast array of high quality musical tracks that linger in the background compliment the whole adventure perfectly.
The basic concept of a game such as this, as with Metal Slug and Astro Boy, is that you take control of the main character (in this case the poor stranded, cute little yellow alien) and must make your way from left-to-right, avoiding or making your way through the throngs of enemies in any way possible. The action is mainly on-foot, but the alien can also take control of various types of vehicles, such as a digger or tank in order to mow down agents or deflect some weapon fire. The action quickly turns from running, jumping and firing weapons at the ground the reducing your fallings speed, to out-and-out mass destruction as not only can you still fire lots, but also run annoying enemies down and destroy large building structures!
But the game is not just about blasting away, either, as there are clever little elements thrown in to ensure everything remains as fresh as possible. For instance, on one of the earlier levels, you reach the end part of the stage and expect to be faced with yet another large boss that you must patiently gun down. Instead, though, the game flips you over and takes you by surprise! Our little alien friend is thrown into a spaceship and must hover above the FBI agents whilst dodging large fireballs from the approaching machine, all from a zoomed-out viewpoint. The key is to use the tractor beam to float the agents upwards and drop them on top of the machine, eventually causing it to crumble. It is little touches like this that set Alien Hominid head and shoulders above the competition and place it easily on par with other greats such as the Metal Slug series.
‘L’ and moving leads to a barrel roll; ‘R’ throws a grenade at people; ‘A’ has your fire the weapon on-hand at the time and ‘B’ jumps. The control set-up is in no way over-complicated and sticks in keeping with the whole package – simple, yet amazingly addictive, even when you jump into vehicles such as tanks! As you wander through the levels littered with quirky looking buildings, complete with strange little messages on them (‘Fart’ being one of them), you will come across equally unusual, yet amusing scenes (the very first one is an obvious choice, with the alien crash-landing and the agents cleaning up the surroundings, wandering off holding up a sign saying ‘Nothing to See Here’), as well as young children loitering, ready to pass on power-ups to the little yellow ‘victim’.
Flame-thrower, ice gun, electric ray beams and lasers are just a few of the various weapons at your disposal as you attempt to fend off the slew of on-coming agents. They will swarm you from all directions; not just hordes of them piling in from the right. In some instances the scene can grow extremely chaotic as one agent with a large shield barges in from the right, whilst stacks of others charge in from the left and THEN, to top it all off, a helicopter will appear above your head, complete with EVEN MORE enemies to contend with. Alien Hominid is certainly not for the feint of heart and must be taken in small doses even for veteran gamers. But with this highly characterised title is a complete joy to play through, and even pushes so hard that the line between which is better, the home console or portable version, becomes far too blurred to make out...
There are four different difficulty levels available to opt for, yet not all of the levels are opened-up on them all. For instance, you may think it clever to choose the easiest, 'Thumbsucker', and breeze through the whole game in one sitting. However, this cannot happen, as you are restricted to merely playing through the first level's stages. Therefore, the game suddenly provides much more incentive to replay on higher settings to access all thirteen levels. There are also three mini-games that can be accessed by playing through certain stages on 'Easy' mode or higher. These are Chicken Lickin', Chipper and Missile Mastar, all of which add to the relatively short longevity of this game. Other than the extras, there is no two-player option (unfortunately), so gamers are left with the only option of heading back to the spectacular main game to beat their highest scores.
Other than bosses that sway from one end of the spectrum to the other in terms of difficulty, the ease of play, yet deeply addictive and scarily intense nature of the gameplay leaves you thirsty for more.
The Game Boy Advance has never thrown this amount of action around on its humble little screen without stuttering, coughing harshly and finally self-combusting. Tuna has ported this marvellously.
Sound effects are so detailed here, right down to the slicing of human body parts, that you would hardly believe this is a humble handheld. Mixed in with memorable themes and it is a wonderful package.
Once you have managed to finally get the hang of things, unfortunately you will realise that there are not too many levels in AH. However, good luck to those tackling it on the highest difficulty levels! And enjoy the unlockable mini-games...
Action fans, if there was one game to recommend to you for 2006 it would be this. Okay, so it is only out in Europe on the GBA, but Americans should not be deterred and try to find it on import. It easily matches the classic Metal Slug series as one of the best side-scrolling blasting titles on the market. Charming and a real joy to play through...
I am a big fan of www.newgrounds.com, which was the site the game took off from, and is, in fact run by the creators.
I really wanted the GC version, still debateing the GBA one.
Looks like a pretty close match, the GC version apperently had huge amounts of extras.
To be honest, after many repeated goes, I finished this in two days...would have done it in just the one day if I'd have had more time. It's a brilliant game, but I'm eager to get the GC version now...
Finally the review is done, a bit of professionalism is in C3
I was actually very disappointed in this... it is an amazing game while it lasted, but so much was taken from the console version, & I finished all 4 modes begginning to end in less than a day... :S
I want to import the GC version really, a Coop mode would do it for me, & more levels. ooh, it would be pretty cheap too.
This is a damn great game, I advise you all to get it, just picked mine up today, although it seems quite short... but for