Monday, February 16, 2009

Alien Crush

Compile / Hudson Soft / NEC

I wasn't particularly happy the day I lugged Alien Crush home with me. I had journeyed to the local game store with the intention of picking up the famously intense Blazing Lazers, but some other Turbo-owning bums had apparently beaten me to the punch, as Compile's blaster was no longer in stock. A pinball game, regardless of the theme it was built on and the embellishments it was adorned with, seemed like a rather poor substitute. But it took only a few minutes of ball-and-flippers-style outer-space-creature annihilation for AC to ingratiate itself with me, and presently I find it anything but shameful that this game and its followup, a duo of thematically intense pinball titles, were among the system's most well-received releases.

There's no question about it: both of the Turbo's Crush games rule. But Alien Crush has a certain appeal for me that the formidable Devil's Crush has never had. Nostalgia plays a part in this; I had partaken in eleven years of alien obliteration prior to setting foot in DC's den of iniquity. Also, I prefer the music in AC, repetitive as it may be. The two selectable compositions--one a fast-paced torpedo of a tune and the other an eerie distortion-laden dirge--prove to be very memorable numbers, as do the bonus-round tunes and the brief Game Over track. Most importantly, AC feels better to play, mainly because I don't like the fact that DC's playfield scrolls as the game's camera follows the ball. I know I'm in the minority here, but the "blinking" that takes place in AC as the ball crosses over into a new section of the field has never bothered me; and I like being able to see my flippers at all times, especially when the ball is making a fast trip south.

I wouldn't try to convince anyone that Alien Crush is the better of the two games, as it isn't. Speaking as "objectively" as I can on the matter, Devil's Crush is superior in almost every way, and it's the one I recommend first to people who haven't played either. But if I'm in the mood for a quick, fun thirty minutes of video-game pinball, AC is the title I reach for.

Little alien critters emerge from the brains and cocoons you bust open. Of course, there's another way to come across these creatures: the big purple guy occasionally spits 'em out at you.

A look at Alien Crush's bonus rounds. You can count on playing the "centipede" one about seven trillion times during any given game.

Racking up points isn't a problem, but it can take a hell of a long time to get to 999,999,999.

You never know what sorts of weird creatures will show up...

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