Matt Keller
28 Nov, 2007

XBLA Alien Hominid HD Review

360 Review | Ever wonder what would happen if ET and ALF went bad?
Xbox Live Arcade got off to a rather shaky start when the Xbox 360 launched, and it wasn’t until earlier in 2007 that we started to see a stream of quality titles hitting the service. Alien Hominid HD is one title that is credited as being part of the Live Arcade renaissance. This enhanced port contains all of the extra content seen in the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube versions of the title, but ups the ante with redrawn sprites and HD graphics, as well as the Live Arcade standard features such as online cooperative play and leaderboards.

Dan Paladin’s distinctive visual designs form the heart of the Alien Hominid HD experience. Our little alien hero looks cute and innocent to the untrained eye, but quickly shows his true colours, chomping the heads off of federal agents and delightfully blasting everything in sight. The sharp, boxy designs of many of the game’s characters are impressive, despite their simplicity – particularly in the case of the game’s rather massive boss characters. The cohesion between the game’s sprites and backgrounds is particularly good, contributing to the overall solidarity of the visual design. Gushing aside, Alien Hominid HD doesn’t seem to move with the same fluidity that we saw in the console versions – that seems to have been lost with the increase in resolution.

Eating too many Soviet soldiers will leave you with a remarkable hangover

Eating too many Soviet soldiers will leave you with a remarkable hangover
When one peels away Alien Hominid HD’s visuals, they’ll see that the game design is very much ingrained in the platform/shooter style popular in the late 1980s with Contra, and the mid to late 1990s with SNK’s beloved Metal Slug series. As one would expect, the narrative is rather thin, with the goal of the game simply to recapture the alien’s ship, and blast the snot out of anyone or anything that gets in the way. This includes agents from the FBI and KGB, American soldiers stationed at Area 51, scorpions, vultures and a variety of downright bastardly bosses.

A variety of weaponry is provided to assist the little alien in his quest – the stock standard pop gun and grenades will do most of one’s killing, but laser cannons, spreadshots, machine guns, freeze rays and flame throwers (each with a grenade variant) can prove more efficient killers, though they are limited by ammunition. Weapons aren’t the only way to dispose of one’s foes; the alien can leap onto the shoulders of unsuspecting enemies and devour their head in one swift bite, or dig into the ground and pull them down with him. A number of stages in the game feature vehicles; the alien can take control of cars, tanks, bobcats and eventually, his little ship. These vehicular experiences are a little short lived as the craft are generally rather vulnerable, but they give solace from the usual one hit deaths and pack extra destructive power.

Much like its SNK ilk, Alien Hominid HD is designed to be rather difficult – one hit can end the alien’s life, and the screen is filled with bullets, explosions and other potential life-ending threats. Players are encouraged to learn the game’s levels and patterns in order to succeed, though the high difficulty will see players losing many lives in the process. Of course, for the wimpier players out there, Alien Hominid HD packs an easy mode, so even the biggest sissy can lay claim to finishing the title. If one is a bit more of a man and plays on the harder difficulties, they’ll be treated to a rather more demanding challenge. The problem is that the challenge offered up by Alien Hominid HD seems to lack the sophistication of the earlier Metal Slug games; whereas the challenge in those titles was more intricately designed, Alien Hominid HD throws everything at the player, bullet hell style, and wishes them the best of luck.

Gas, brake, honk! Gas, brake, honk! Honk, honk, punch! Gas, gas, gas!

Gas, brake, honk! Gas, brake, honk! Honk, honk, punch! Gas, gas, gas!
After blasting through the game’s 16 levels (either alone or with a friend), Alien Hominid HD treats players to a variety of little mini-games played via the alien’s PDA. They may appear simple in design but these morsels of gaming are just that, providing mere minutes of engrossing entertainment. While not really an important part of the package, one has to chuckle at the absurdity of playing a game that has one steering a Soviet weapon of mass destruction towards a crudely drawn America, dodging all matter of birds and planes along the way. Leaderboards are also provided for PDA games. Achievement junkies shouldn’t encounter much resistance in getting the 200 points on offer, as some of the milestones appear to be much more difficult than they actually are.

For those who missed Alien Hominid the first time around (which, judging from the game’s sales, includes 99.9% of the population), Alien Hominid HD is a great looking throwback to gaming of old. One cannot ignore the value of Alien Hominid HD – it has everything that was in the more expensive console version of the game, but also includes higher resolution graphics, online play and scoreboards, yet only costs 800 MS Points. It might not be as well designed as the earlier Metal Slug games, but its hardcore platform/shooter design and the hard-as-nails difficulty should appeal to those with more vintage tastes.
The Score
Alien Hominid HD appears to be cute on the surface, but the vicious and difficult shooter gameplay will separate the men from the boys. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
Fucking shit review. I expected better Keller.
6 years ago
I always wanted to pick this up on the Gamecube. Is it worth it, or just a flash in da pan ?
6 years ago
S.Jaworski wrote
I always wanted to pick this up on the Gamecube. Is it worth it, or just a flash in da pan ?
I played it on GBA and it was brilliant icon_smile.gif definitely worth a purchase.
6 years ago
Can you trade "PDA games" online?
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  28/02/2007 (Confirmed)
Year Made:

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