By August 24, 2005

Video Game Review: Alien Hominid

Every once in awhile games come out that don’t fit nicely into our pre-existing genres like first person shooter, real time strategy, survival/horror, etc.

Alien Hominid is such a title. I guess it can be classified as a side scrolling brawler/shooter, ala Contra or Bad Dudes. The game can be played with only one player, but it’s best in co-op mode with one other player.

The storyline is simple, but that’s how I like them: (up to) two aliens are flying around earth when they are shot down by FBI agents. Your craft crash lands and is taken by the FBI for study. Your goal: to get your ship back and get the hell off the planet.

You are equipped with a default ranged weapon with unlimited ammunition. If people get close, you can hack them up with your sword. Switching from the blaster to the sword is done automagically based on how close your enemy is to you. Similar to Contra and other side scrollers, you can pick up power-ups that are different weapons. You have your usual freeze ray, shotgun, machine blaster, etc. You only have your power up for x number of shots, so you have to be a little bit more judicious than with your regular side arm.

The weapon selection is pretty generic, but there are two neat combat modes that you’ll like. One is you can jump on your friend (in co-op mode, obviously) and ride around on them. It’s cute and I always laugh when it happens, but I haven’t found much tactical use for it. The other neat combat mode is when you jump on top of an opponent. You can ride them, but more importantly, you can bite their head off. BOOYAH!

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You can also ride on (and drive) most cars. There’s a wicked stage where you have to pilot a car through a crowded refinery while shooting at bad guys. There are also a few “escape” stages where you are in your car and the feds are trying to blow you up via jet packs or copters.

The artwork/feel of the game is fantastic. The hominids are adorable, and the mini-bosses and bosses are really ingenious. One of my favorite boss encounters involves a wood chipper, federal agents, and a super cannon/tank. Awesome. The fighting is graphic, but not realistic. When you cut enemies in half, they fall open and look like centercut ham. When you burn people up, they turn into Loony Tunes-style charcoal briquettes. Your allies, known affectionately as “Fat Kid” and “Russian Fat Kid” are endearingly rendered.

Gameplay is fast, fast, fast. Like any true side scroller, there isn’t a bunch of bullshit cut scenes in the middle of the action, or leveling up like an RPG. There are cut scenes at the end of major acts, but that’s okay since you will have to tend to your Nintendo thumb. Prepare to jack the fire button unlike any other game since you’ve played Galaga. In Alien Hominid, you jump, shoot, duck, and shoot. Constantly. Expect to die a lot. Bullets are generally slow moving, but there will be some enemies you just can’t seem to evade without dying. There’s a hunter-killer robot the FBI employs, and I think if you touch any part of it, even in mid-air, you die.

When you do run out of lives, don’t worry because you can get back in the action at the end of the scene, assuming your partner also lives. My tip is to stop the game and restart the chapter you’ve just been granted access to. This will allow both players to resume playing the game. I think you take a point total hit or something when you do this, but since Alien Hominid is a co-op game at its heart, who wants to play by themselves or go for the high score?

So, if you own a Sony PS2 or a Nintendo GameCube, I recommend that you pick this title up. Behemoth, the game manufacturer, was written by a few fellows who pitched many a video game but finally wanted to make their own.

Advanced Alien Technology:

  • Hand-drawn graphics style will have you chuckling.
  • Nothing beats a button masher. If you have some rage to get out, this is the game for you.
  • Co-op play is much better than head-to-head.
  • You get to bite people’s heads off!!!
  • Support the “little guy” of game development houses.

Crash Landings:

  • Expect to die. A lot.
  • This game is pretty hard — if you’re not up on your side scrollers, you might get frustrated.
  • I would have liked to see more varied weaponry, but how can you possibly complain when you can ride on top of a Yeti and punch Soviet-bloc soldiers out of machine gun towers???
  • Nothing beats up your hand like a button masher. If you have an RSI or easily acquire Nintendo Thumb you might want to pass, or at least play at 15 minute intervals.

Meep maap moo meep meep, maw momp sneep:

Four out of five STFU mugs!

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