Alien Syndrome

Review Date: March 20, 2021

Release Date: January 1, 1988

Platform: NES

Publisher: Tengen

Genre: Shooter

Anecdotes: I thought we had this game, but I don’t have any memories of it. I don’t remember playing it. It surprises me. As I am playing right now, I’m seeing various weapons, people to rescue, and aliens. It felt like a space version of Commando with Blaster Master bosses. I knew very little about the game before playing it for this review.

Yeah, maybe I should have looked up whatever this frightening thing is.

Description: Players can choose to play as Ricky or Mary. I went with Mary because I tend to favor female characters. Regardless of whoever is chosen, the object is to rescue 12 Comrades in each round within the time limit. Ricky or Mary has to find them all while avoiding or shooting the alien blobs roaming the floor. When all 12 are found, the character has to head to the exit, where he or she will be placed into a boss battle.

Round and round we go.

Positives: It’s possible I may actually like this game. Hunting for comrades is a bit challenging, but the levels aren’t huge, so there aren’t tons of places to look. I started pressing buttons to see if I can access a map. I tried A, B, Select, and Start. No map. I guess I’m on my own finding them. But then, I see letters in the wall, mainly L, F, and S. They changed my gun to a laser or fire shooter. Next to one of them, though, was a map! The game has a map!

The game cranked up the difficulty in round 4, which is fine. The bosses I did see were fair; each has a weak point that needs to be found. The first two were easy, but the third gave me some trouble. Once I figured out the attack pattern and came back with a laser, it went down.

Mary takes on Hugger, whatever the heck that is.

Negatives: The whole game feels like it’s in slow motion. Mary is slow. The aliens are slow. The comrades don’t move at all.

Here’s another problem. Round 3 is hard on the eyes and to make things worse, Mary blends right in with the scenery.

The timers are unnecessary as well. They make sense by the storyline, but they don’t help gameplay at all. It’s enough of a challenge just to survive when characters are dead in one hit. There is also a separate time limit to find the exit after getting all 12 people, plus a third time limit to defeat the boss. If time limits have to be there, a single timer for the entire round would have been better.

I also noticed that it also pulled the old “limited continues” gambit. The game only gives players three continues before bumping them back to the title screen. In a game like this, that’s rough, especially at the bosses. They can set up traps that will wipe out all lives in ten seconds.

There she is! Now where are the other 10 people at?
I had a birthday cake that looked like this once.

Grade: C

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