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Retro Review: Alien Storm

On 03/18/2023 at 10:58 AM by The Last Ninja

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The aliens are the least of your worries in this mediocre action game

Gotta love aliens, right? It’s fun to blast aliens with huge guns, but that’s not quite true with Alien Storm. Originally released in arcades in 1990, Alien Storm was ported to the Genesis in 1991. Developed and published by Sega, the game is similar to a beat ‘em up, except the protagonists use guns instead of their fists. The game also has light-gun shooter sections and sections that are reminiscent of shmups. The big question: Is Alien Storm any good? Let’s find out. 

The story is very straightforward: a group of aliens want to invade Earth, and a small squadron called The Alien Busters steps up to stop them (that’s right, this seems to be rip-off of Ghost Busters, but with aliens). You can play as three different characters: a man who uses a laser gun, a woman who uses a flamethrower, and robot who has a plasma whip. It doesn’t actually matter who you use because they all attack in the same way. In addition to attacking, you can also roll (which is useful in getting away from a horde of enemies), and use your special screen-clearing attack. 

pic 1

The gameplay is clunky at best. You will need to repeatedly press the attack button and your character will shoot, blast, and whip out other weapons to use. This quickly grows repetitive, which is the nature of the beat ‘em up (sadly). Thankfully, levels are very short, broken up into missions (usually something like “save the people”). The aliens are mostly either goopy aliens or bug-like aliens. One thing I thought was cool is that trash cans or mailboxes were often aliens in disguise. 

Your character has two important things: a lifebar and an energy bar. As you use your weapon, your energy bar will decrease, meaning you will have to pick up batteries (enemies will occasionally drop these). This seems fine, but actually, it’s a huge problem. The game has sections where enemies won’t give any batteries. Once I actually ran out of energy and had to beat the boss with a gun that shot very slowly. When I got to the next level, I was unable to attack the aliens AT ALL, so they killed me. That’s right, the game doesn’t automatically replenish your energy bar when you start a new level. 

pic 2

Each level has a section where you enter a door and go into a first-person mode. Aliens will move around on screen and you have to move your reticle around and shoot them. These sections are pretty fun. Along the way, you have to pick up batteries and try to avoid shooting any pedestrians who are stupid enough to run out in the open while you’re blasting alien scum. Sometimes round yellow alien faces will jump at the screen, and you have to shoot them before they reach you. These sections are very short (which is good). 

The other section has your character sprinting constantly and the game suddenly becomes a shoot ‘em up. However, you better not shoot the whole time because you might run out of energy. These sections can be frustrating because the hit detection makes no sense. Your character will get hit and you’ll say, “What hit me?” Unfortunately, it seems that the game has these sections just to pad out the length. I wonder if they were in the arcade version. 

pic 3

I should also mention that the bosses are a slog. The first two bosses are identical, which is just lazy. These bosses don’t have any interesting attack patterns, they just move back and forth shooting lasers or whatever, and so you have to roll back and forth, avoiding their attack and attacking them when you can. It’s horrible! 

What I’ve been describing is Arcade Mode. Two players can play cooperatively through this mode. In addition to this, there is also Duel Mode, which lets you fight specific enemies in stages. This is really lame and repetitive, and I’m guessing they added it just to have another mode for the home release. There is also “1P vs. 2P,” which means two friends can fight each other using one of the three protagonists. This is also pretty lame. 

The graphics aren’t great either. They probably looked good back in 1991, but they don’t hold up now. And the music: it’s completely forgettable. Sometimes the music can be quite grating (as Genesis music is wont to be). When half the sound effects sound like muffled farts, you know that you’re playing an old Genesis game.  

pic 4

Final Verdict—2 Stars: Not Worth It

Suffice to say, Alien Storm is NOT a good game. The gameplay is dull and repetitive, the extra modes are lame, and the graphics and sound don’t hold up. The game is available on the Switch’s NSO Genesis collection (because Nintendo loves giving us crappy games), so you can check it out for yourself. But be warned: even the aliens couldn’t save this one. 




03/19/2023 at 02:32 AM

It was basically the Aliens arcade game with the serial numbers filed off. Except that I enjoyed that game.

The Last Ninja

03/20/2023 at 12:09 PM

It can be enjoyable at times, I just found overall that it had too many frustrating things about it. 

Cary Woodham

03/19/2023 at 06:26 AM

I always forget about this game until I play it on a Genesis collection.  I never thought it was that bad, but it ain't no Streets of Rage 2 either.  The lady and the robot were cool and the section where you run really fast looked pretty silly.

The Last Ninja

03/20/2023 at 12:10 PM

The running section IS silly because they are sprinting full-force without getting tired. It would have made more sense if they jumped into vehicles, but I think the developers were too lazy to make vehicles imo 


03/20/2023 at 05:28 PM

I've played this on Genesis collections a few different times. Those first-person sequences are pretty fun and you can cause a lot of havok in the beat 'em up sections, but I could never get very far in it; probably that running out of energy thing. 

The Last Ninja

03/21/2023 at 08:20 PM

The running out of energy thing is a HUGE problem. The FP sections are probably the best parts of the game because they're actually interesting, although they are too short. The whole game is very short, but it's also an arcade port. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/19/2023 at 11:58 AM

I've run out of energy.

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