Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #22: Alien Crush (PC Engine)

Game: Alien Crush
Genre: Pinball
Developer: Compile
Publisher: Naxat Soft
System: PC Engine (HuCard)
Release date: 1988

Considering the PC Engine is one of my all-time favorite consoles and Aliens is one of my all-time favorite films, is it safe to say that Alien Crush is one of my all-time favorite games? I wouldn't go that far, but I'd definitely say that this H. R. Giger-esque title, which was developed by Compile and Naxat Soft, is one of the better--or at least one of the more enjoyable--pinball games I've ever played. (Controversial aside: I prefer this title to its generally-better-received sequel, Devil Crash.) Chiefly responsible for my love of this game are, of course, the aforementioned Aliens-inspired graphics. (I'm especially fond of the multi-eyed "queen" that takes up a large portion of the lower playfield.) Granted, you'll become well acquainted with those graphics, as the play area in Alien Crush is just two screens high, but at least they're gorgeous. (Thankfully, a bonus round helps break things up a bit.) Also adding to this game's allure: Its throbbing, rock-ish soundtrack. Sadly, said soundtrack consists of just two tunes--a few more if you count the tracks played during the bonus rounds and on the game-over screen. So, what's not to love about Alien Crush? Well, aside from its somewhat-repetitive graphics and music, I'd say the game's biggest negative is one shared by most pinball games of the time: The physics are far from perfect. Oh, and the screen doesn't scroll smoothly from one section of the playfield to the next; rather, it uses what some folks call a "flick-screen mechanism." If you're not anal about such things, though, you should find a lot to like in this release.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts


Viewtiful_Justin said...

Pinball games...oh...what to say about them? I started with PINBALL for the NES, which was only fun if you could get the ball into the place where mario rescues the princess. And...maybe it's just me...but...any other pinball game was either way too complex or way too simple. It seems the balance is way off in a lot of them. And don't even get me started on Sonic Spinball. Ugh.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Funny you should bring up Nintendo's Pinball game, Justin. I've always loved it :) I know, it's not very realistic, nor is it that interesting, but I've always liked it anyway. I'm going to review that one soon, BTW.

I've never played Sonic Spinball. Not a good game at all, I'm guessing?

Retronick said...

Sonic Spinball was ok... Not good, but an alright distraction. As for Alien vs Devil's Crush? I'm a Die hard Devil's Crush fan. Have been since its release. I blame the music and satanic aesthetic.

I enjoy Alien Crush, but I was always irked by the "flick mechanic." If the ball floats between both levels just right, it's almost seizure-inducing. I do like the bumpers that hatch great big bugs though...

This would make an interesting poll.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I have a feeling *most* people prefer Devil's Crash/Crush, Retronick. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the sequel, I just prefer this one :)

As for your idea for a poll -- I'll think about it! Honestly, I ran some polls last year and they didn't receive much interest, so I stopped them.

I may have to give them another try, though, esp. since more people seem to be visiting the site these days.

Retronick said...

That's not dissimilar to my preference of Bomber Man '93 over the more popular Saturn Bomberman :D.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, that *is* quite the controversial preference, Retronick!

What makes you prefer Bomberman '93, BTW?

I like both Bomberman '93 and '94, but I have to admit Iike Saturn Bomberman a bit more :)

RetroKingSimon said...

Nice write-up sir! As you may know, I'm rather keen on this series and have covered it extensively. I prefer Devil's to Alien's but only by a little :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

I *didn't* know you had covered this series extensively, Simon. Guess I'm going to have to search through your blog later today to read those posts :)

I'm probably going to be the only person (who visits this blog, anyway) who prefers Alien's to Devil's, but that's OK.

Really, you can't go wrong with either, IMO.

Retronick said...

Honestly, I think the preference is more about nostalgia than anything else. I grew up playing the original and '93, then I got the SS version when it came out 4 years later.

I guess I just liked the less-frantic feel of '93's somewhat spartan maps... Though I've got to admit, 7 people playing with Madbomber enabled is a blast!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, I understand that completely. Nostalgia likely is the main reason I prefer the original Bonk's Adventure/PC Genjin to its sequels, for instance.

As for Bomberman '93 and Saturn Bomberman -- I do like the former's more spartan (and smaller, if I'm remembering correctly) maps and sometimes prefer them to the more sprawling ones of the latter, too.