To think this game started as a simple flash game on newgrounds.com. It’s really inspirational for those wanting to develop games of their own. Then again, the final product only feels like an improved flash game, but hey, it’s the effort that counts, right?
Alien Hominid is a 2-D side-scroller that features an alien hominid blasting a large number of FBI agents and their technological masterpieces to bits. You have your standard weapon, various weapon upgrades, grenades, and the ability to duck, roll, dig, and jump on people’s heads and bite ’em off. If all of this sounds familiar to you, it should, as the game is almost a complete clone of the Metal Slug series, which is said to be among developer Tom Fulp’s (and creator of Newgrounds) favorite game series. That’s not to say that the game is worse off for being a Metal Slug clone, as it differentiates itself enough to be regarded as its own game… while still exhibiting that Metal Slug persona with its core mechanics.
As a young teenager, I got this game on account that it looked interesting. I was somewhat aware of its inspirations at the time, but more than anything, I was intrigued with the art style of the game. It didn’t seem like something that would belong on a console like the Gamecube, which homed some great looking games such as Metroid Prime, Wind Waker, and Super Mario Sunshine. It looked more suited for an online flash website, so to see that available for home consoles intrigued me enough to have my mother buy it for me. The art style is very blocky, very crude in its simplicity. Big heads, beady eyes, large statures and semi-fluid animation scenes within the levels and in animated cutscenes. Visually speaking, the game is not very impressive whatsoever. It’s bright enough to pop, but won’t leave the player’s mouth agape in awe. Most likely, players won’t even pay attention to it. I sure didn’t, both then and now.
The game has a lot of the key strengths and weaknesses similar to Metal Slug, as its main inspiration. However, one major complaint with Alien Hominid‘s incorporation of the formula is that the camera is too close to the player. With Metal Slug, the camera is zoomed out to a perfect degree, with the sprites of the characters small enough to make the world around them appear large and accessible. With Alien Hominid, the area is filtered too closely for the player to always see what’s coming ahead or behind, leading to a good number of cheap deaths or being overwhelmed by enemies that seem to endlessly spawn. The number of weapon pick-ups are also limited in their variety to really impact combat. While it’s fun to pick up these weapon upgrades and blast enemies with different effects of the standard weapon, the game gives them too plentifully to make them feel really special. It leads the player to waste through ammo at the same rapidity they would with the standard weapon, as if the upgrade was the standard weapon.
But for what it’s worth, it’s hard to screw up a formula as a side-scrolling shoot ’em up. The game has that basic tendency to evoke a sense of fun when playing with another player, which improves the experience and balances the level of pretentiousness that the game throws at you every so often. While Metal Slug is fun even when alone, Alien Hominid is really only recommendable with a second player. It feels too sluggish and one-sided with a single player, leading players to feel underwhelmed before the game is finished. With a second player, the game becomes more manageable and offers a fair bit of humor when the hominids are jumping on each other’s heads and shielding the other from random enemy fire. Good ol’ second player disadvantages. The level of detail with the backgrounds, completion animations, and the overall effort put into the game are commendable, but not very memorable.
Alien Hominid is one of those titles I consider a “pointless game.” Putting aside the harsh terminology, it’s a game that doesn’t immerse the player with an interactive story or gives any indication that the game can be enjoyed through multiple playthroughs of the main campaign mode. It’s a game that one can pick up and play without a second thought. No necessity to pay attention to things happening within the story or throughout the game, simply pick up the controller and hammer a single button while running forward. That’s all the game is willing to give you, and for those who have read reviews of mine in the past, you would know that I don’t typically care for these types of games. I enjoy games with said point, a sort of motivation to keep you going more than that of “save princess” or “grab spaceship.” I enjoy character interactions and development alongside a story that builds upon itself the farther the game goes. Alien Hominid provides very little of all of these things, which immediately makes the potential of my enjoyment of the game rely simply on its core mechanics. Unfortunately, these mechanics are that of a lesser Metal Slug. That’s really all one can say about the game as a whole: it’s a lesser Metal Slug.
T’was a fond childhood memory and an impressive attempt at translating the typical online flash game into a full-blown console game. Even so, the game doesn’t do enough to really make itself stick out, aside from the fact that it has those online origins (and the art style). Alien Hominid can be beaten within 90 minutes, so long as the character doesn’t get a game over in the process. As short as it is, it really embodies the term “quick shot,” a short burst of energy from beginning to end. It also feels cheap to be paraded around as a console game with that length, better suited for Xbox Arcade or something similar. By game’s end, players will either find the game charming in it simplicity or forgettable for the same reason. I’m within the latter portion, but acknowledge the game’s effort and the careers that were launched because of it. At its very core, I had a good time with it. But I likely won’t play it again for another few years or so. It’s a game best enjoyed when you remember nothing about it. I’m not sure if that’s a good point or bad.
Final Score: 4.5/10
(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of Ryan Houghton.)