Complete Guide to Spectrum Games – Part 12

Alien StormUS Gold, 1991

Ooh… This is one of those big name arcade conversions that rarely turned out very well. I guess my luck’s turned again… I mean, it’s a multiload. Those were always terrible. (Except for Gauntlet.)

Essentially Alien Storm is a multipart beat-’em-up in the vein of Golden Axe, only with the axes replaced with very, very short range guns and the enemy soldiers replaced with dustbin slugs and pools of slime. You walk along and beat… sorry, shoot stuff, then get an Op Wolf shoot-the-screen level, then back to walking around. And then the cycle starts again, with a running-very-quickly-shooting-things scroller thrown in occasionally to spice things up a bit. So far, so very much by the numbers. Surprisingly though, it’s not turned out too badly.

I’m frankly astonished by just how much is crammed into the ol’ Speccy. Almost all the animation from the original is here in this monochrome port – even the little finishing moves and the somersaults and rolls. There’s a two player mode and everything. In fact, there’s only one thing really wrong with it, and multiloads don’t bother us emulator users (or people with disk drives).

It’s a shame, then, that all this fantastic technical effort has been put into a game that’s, to be honest, not that great. Alien Storm is fatally flawed in that there’s no real skill involved in fighting your enemies – you just stand vaguely near them, hammer fire and hope for the best. Still bloody impressive to look at though.

Aliens USElectric Dreams, 1987

For some reason the bods at Electric Dreams decided that the original version of Aliens reviewed on the last page wouldn’t go down to well across the pond. Instead, our American cousins got a by-the-numbers traditional multipart and multiload film conversion.

Hilariously, rather than pages and pages of instructions to skip through as fast as you can, in Aliens US you get pages and pages of script from the film, with the odd picture dispersed through, like the one below. Hilariously, this is the first level, in which you click on pictures of the described items in order. No skill involved whatsoever. So, then it’s some more loading, and then some more script, and then a stupidly difficult subgame where you fly through a bunch rings.

If you could somehow extract the goodness of Aliens UK, and put it in a bottle, Electric Dreams would take a similarly sized bottle, fill it with their own personal extract, and sell it as a US version.

Alien SwarmTitan Programs, 1982

Dodge or shoot your way through a swarm of aliens. Your ship controls like it’s on ice, but other than that there’s nothing really wrong with this game. Of course, there’s nothing spectacularly right about it either, but you can’t have everything.

Alien SyndromeACE Software, 1987

Another arcade conversion, this time of an overhead maze Gauntlet clone. You get to roam around a space station rescuing people on each level. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this, because it’s also rather good. Shooting aliens in the face is a lot more fun than, say, blowing up their spaceships or beating them over the head with a flamethrower. And! It doesn’t take long to start upgrading your weapons here, and best of all if you screw up and lose a life, you don’t lose your shiny new guns. If only more games had that approach…

So there we are – no more Aliens for me. Next time I’ll be going from Aliquid Simplex to, ooh, who knows where? So you go and get started on Syndrome’s Aliens, and in the meantime, I’ll be looking for a motion tracker on eBay.


  1. “You know how we’re actually quite lucky that Codemasters don’t allow distribution of their games, so I can use it as an excuse not to review all their ‘Advanced Simulators’?”

    Hey, hold on! I’m not having that! You promised a review of every Spectrum game ever, not a review of every Spectrum game that isn’t distribution denied. In fact, you can’t even use that as an excuse, seeing as you have reviewed no less than two “distribution denied” titles in this part.

    Therefore I respectfully demand that every Spectrum game – including tons of budget-priced absolutely brilliant advanced simulators (and Alien Death Mine Massacre XII and Alien Abduction Simulator from the CGC) – is reviewed by yourself.

    Just remember to delete those distribution denied games after you’ve finished reviewing them, eh?

    “I’ve a horrible feeling that phrase’ll be on my tombstone.”

    No, your tombstone will read:
    ‘Here lies Nathan. He never did finish reviewing all those Spectrum games.’

  2. Well, I’ve just checked and it turns out there are, shockingly, only three Simulators in the As, and I think I’ve got them all. (On tape! On tape! Don’t sue me!) So I suppose I can put those in the end-of-letter round-up (which is going to be longer than the Alien Special at this rate).

    As for the CGC entries, well, er… I’ll definitely get back to those at some point, perhaps in their own ‘special’ section. After I’ve dealt with the numbered games. And all the Spanish text adventures.

  3. you know, im very very hungover, but whoever did this writes the funniest reviews too

    you’re a genius

    should be sitting with mr gorman on the tv

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