October 7 marks the release of Sega’s Alien: Isolation, a survival horror adventure inspired by the 1979 film starring Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt. It’s one of the scariest games we’ve played (even more so on the Oculus Rift), and seems to perfectly capture one of Hollywood’s most iconic monsters.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Alien has appeared in video games. Its legacy dates all the way back to the golden age of Atari. Considering the advancements in graphics over the course of three decades, this also means everyone’s favorite xenomorph changed, from simple and barely recognizable 2D sprites to the glorious high definition creature you see before you. With that in mind, here’s a look at some (certainly not all) of the biggest moments in the Alien’s visual history.
Alien (Atari 2600)
We first saw the Alien in this 1982 licensed game for Atari’s 2600 console. It’s essentially a Pac-Man spin-off, with Aliens replacing the familiar ghosts, except the creature doesn’t resemble its big screen counterpart. Of course, back in the early 80s, a little imagination with video games went a long way.
Inspired by the James Cameron sequel of the same name, Aliens features tons of monsters to blast and plenty of surprises along the way. Why this never appeared on consoles is anyone’s guess. Instead, it’s one of the long lost games from the 90s. On somewhat odd note, Konami took liberties with the creature designs, dreaming up bizarre critters that have more in common with the company's own Contra.
Speaking of 90s arcade games, we can’t ignore Capcom’s outstanding Alien vs. Predator, not to be confused with the Super Nintendo game that debuted around the same time. It’s sort of like Final Fight, except you can choose between two heavily armed humanoids or two Predators. From there, you slaughter an untold number of Aliens. Another quality hit that never appeared on a home system. [Image Source]
Alien 3 (Genesis, Game Gear, Super Nintendo, NES)
Say what you will about the controversial movie, but the Alien 3 video game is top notch regardless of whether you choose Genesis or SNES. In fact, it’s noticeably different for both consoles in design, graphics and Alien models. Case in point:
Alien 3 for Genesis: The creatures retain the dog-like appearance, but are much bigger than their SNES counterparts. [Image Source]
Alien 3 for SNES: They’re lower to the ground, but just as deadly. [Image Source]
Alien vs Predator (Atari Jaguar)
You can’t buy a Jaguar without this spine-tingling first person shooter, which debuted long before the terrifying PC games. Choose to play as the hapless marine and good luck, because it’s tough to kill several Aliens at once without getting ripped to pieces. Not sure why the monsters have a bluer appearance than normal, but we don’t care. This game still gives us the creeps. [Image Source]
Alien Trilogy (PS One, Saturn, PC)
It’s a DOOM clone and a damn good one. Alien Trilogy captures the feel of each film, except you always seem to have plenty of firepower (unlike the Alien and Alien 3 movies). The Aliens are little more than 2D sprites, but we never confused them with pesky androids. You saw a bunch of these suckers and ran while you had the chance. [Image Source]
Aliens versus Predator (PC)
When listing the scariest games of all time, people often forget about this gem and its equally stellar sequel. Like many AvP games, they let you play as all three factions, but stepping into the marine’s combat boots is on a whole other level. You don’t have the Predator’s insane arsenal, and the Aliens are so fast and ferocious that the jump scares happen early and often. With game developers getting a better handle on how to manipulate polygons, the Alien was taking shape in the third dimension.
Aliens vs. Predator (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Another quality AvP video game. Not as terrifying as the aforementioned PC titles, but we had a blast mowing down Aliens, which looked better than ever. In particular, we enjoyed playing the online horde mode that pits marines versus computer-controlled enemies. Make sure you put down those sentry guns.
Aliens: Infestation (DS)
Sega and WayForward teamed to create this entertaining throwback for Nintendo’s DS, which ditches 3D for good old-fashioned 2D sprites. Featuring a cool Super Metroid-style influence, the option to swap marines and the same weapons (pulse rifle for starters) from the Aliens film, it’s definitely one of the coolest Alien games to come along in years, and definitely worth owning if you have a DS, 3DS or 2DS.
Aliens: Colonial Marines (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Say what you will about the game’s overall reception, but Aliens: Colonial Marines has its moments when it comes to graphics. The Aliens in particular look impressive, scaling walls and scurrying along floors in search of new hosts for the Alien Queen’s Facehuggers. We had a bullet for each one of those suckers.
Alien: Isolation (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC)
Now we come full circle with the latest Alien game, Isolation. Gone are the pixelated 2D sprites and 3D polys from those classic games, replaced with the most intimidating version of the movie monster yet. We hope you’re OK with being skewered, because this thing attacks without mercy; just wait until you see it charging towards you. Here’s some advice: hide, and always use the motion tracker.
Which Alien game is your favorite, and are you looking forward to Isolation?