Alien vs. Predator (Arcade) Review

We reach the end of the “licensed games from Namco and CAPCOM” period of this marathon (ignoring the side-step last week) with one of the best of the lot: Alien vs. Predator from CAPCOM. It’s a game I never knew existed until the days of the ROM in the mid-2000s, and man oh man was I annoyed this never got a home release. Does it still hold up now? Silly question, but let’s have a good look anyway!

Background:

All those Xenomorphs causing havoc, and yet there’s a perfectly preserved burger on the floor. Let’s call it “fate”…?

Alien vs. Predator was released worldwide in May 1994 and was actually based on a movie script, the idea being that this was going to be an official tie-in to its cinematic release. Obviously it would be 10 years before AvP came out and it wouldn’t resemble this at all, so the game’s story stands alone as an original story that’s interesting to think about “what could’ve been”.

As mentioned it never got ported to home consoles, although there was a beat ‘em up on the SNES and a first person shooter on Jaguar around this time. In 2019 CAPCOM released a “home arcade” console, basically a large Arcade stick with a bunch of CAPCOM ROMs pre-loaded, and Alien vs. Predator was one of the game included, so it sort of got a home release in the end…

Gameplay:

Not entirely sure what’s happening in this picture, other than “Kaboom!”

The game plays a lot like other classic CAPCOM scrolling beat ‘em ups of the time, so nice chunky sprites, impactful and satisfying combat and lot’s of Arcadey sounding explosions, but with two selectable Predator characters (plus two cyborg humans) and a lot of the enemies are Xenomorphs… A match made in heaven!

The controls are actually three buttons this time, jump, melee attacks and a long-range attack, the latter is ammo-dependant, with each character having different reloading times compared to amount of damage caused. You can still grapple and throw as well, plus pick up other guns, grenade launchers and melee weapons, though the melee weapons are only able to be tossed by all but one marine, which is another fun way they’ve made the four selectable characters feel more unique. So the addition of constant shooting alongside standard melee based combat gives it a really fun and unique feel, plus there are a LOT of enemies on screen. It makes for a fun and chaotic time.

As for genre clichés? Well, given the enemies are mostly different forms/colours of Xenomorphs a lot of the enemy clichés aren’t in the game! There are generic human soldiers, though that’s all they are, they aren’t overweight or scantily clad women… There is a lift level though!

Graphics and Sound:

Doing some martial arts in the middle of all this seems… risky.

I think Alien vs. Predator is where CAPCOM’s scrolling beat ‘em up engine reached its zenith (and not just because it was one of the last ones…) The character and enemy sprites are big and detailed, the backgrounds are colourful and varied, and the fire and explosion effects are top-notch. It’s a perfect package, to be honest.

Sound is good too, not just the punchy soundeffects for guns and explosions, but the Xenomorph screenchy sounds as well. The background music does its job of getting your blood pumping, meaning the whole audio package lives up to the great presentation.

Story:

The Xenomorph Queen is looking a lot thinner than I remember…

The city of San Drad, California has been overwhelmed by Xenomorphs, and two marines, Major Dutch Schaefer and Lt. Linn Kurosawa, have been left behind. They’re saved when two Predators arrive to fulfil their destiny to hunt the Xenomorphs, leading to the quartet battling across the city. They eventually find out it was all the fault of the Weyland-Yutani corporation (of course!) and a rogue General named Bush… who is soon killed by the Xenomorph Queen. The Queen is killed and the ship it was on crashes and explodes, the result of which is the entire alien hive being wiped out (handy!). The Predators give Dutch and Kurosawa a piece of their gear as a sign of respect, and then imply they may come back and hunt them next…

It’s not a bad concept for a film, looking at it, certainly sounds better than the AvP film we got, let’s put it that way…

Thoughts Then:

Time to change the pace and kill a bunch of humans! (by the way, three player screenshots didn’t come from me, obviously…)

Out of all of the Arcade games me and my friends searched for when MAME ROMs became a thing, this ended up being a holy grail. “A CAPCOM scrolling beat ‘em up with the Alien AND Predator license?!” and it lived up to the hype, and then some. I can only imagine my excitement had this been in an actual Arcade I visited, but alas this mid-2000s PC monitor experience was my first time playing…

Thoughts Now:

A couple more flying, flaming Xenomorphs to close out on!

Alien vs. Predator is still one of the best examples of the genre, and one of the best license games period. In 2020 I’m able to hook my PC up to my regular TV with a proper soundbar, so even more than the other times I played it the game shone to me (especially audibly!) If this was released digitally I’d love to just have it on my PS4 (or 5 when I get one next year…) and throw it on from time to time because it doesn’t get old. If you only want to play one scrolling beat ‘em up, this is one of the best examples to stick on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s