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Aliengun

Author: Dario Ruellan Machine Type: Spectrum 16K
Submitted on: 5th of January, 2020 Download or play online

Aliengun is a BASIC game, and quite a rarity in that the author, Dario, wrote this game back in 1985! It’s got a gripping science-fiction plot, in which you are faced with extra-terrestrial invaders! An alien ship lands at your feet, and eight menacing figures disembark, armed with laser guns. Strangely, rather than going all out and massacring you on the spot, they decide to line up and take you on one-by-one, in a duel; except it’s not quite a duel because of the way it’s programmed, but we’ll get back to that.

After starting the game (bonus points for not saving the program to run automatically), you are presented with an alien, rendered in Chunk-o-vision graphics. A surprising fact that not many know is that aliens’ craniums have evolved to reduce the likelihood of headshots by adopting the dimensions of a pancake. I’m glad that Dario was able to work in this crucial detail, even with the limited resolution of the graphics. A countdown prepares you for the fight, which confused me, as it led me to believe that this was some sort of quick-draw firing game. However, what you do instead is manoeuvre your crosshairs (represented by a flashing checkerboard character) over the alien’s body. Skirting even just the edge of the alien’s pinky toe with your bullets results in agonising death. However, there is no time limit; instead, after you make each move, there is a small chance that the alien will fire, resulting in a life being lost.

The challenge comes in that the crosshairs move a random amount each time you press the cursor keys. They can jump up to five places away from their current position, or they might not even move at all. Oh, and did I mention that the initial position of your crosshairs is completely random? You might land a shot before you even start the fight, or you might begin so far away so as to prevent you from feasibly shooting first. Hence, whether you win or lose Aliengambling- erhm… I mean Aliengun, depends mostly on luck. However, if you do win, you are treated to an ending cinematic which depicts the alien ship flying off, followed shortly by the border having a seizure for about half a minute, before the game prints a congratulatory message and restarts.

There are some annoying bugs to top it off, like how the aliens’ eyes do not register hits (due to the attribute based collision detection). You can also send the crosshairs off the top of the screen, yielding reversed vertical controls and a program crash if you go too far.

Overall, Aliengun is a crap game through and through, from the shoddy design to the glitchy coding. However, it is unfortunately made better by the amount of polish that Dario has applied, which is no doubt due to this having been a semi-serious attempt at a good game (hence, his inner 1985 self is probably weeping as it reads this review).

Scores

Graphics Sound Gameplay Innovation TOTAL
35% 30% 22% 20% 27%