Developers as a whole may have collectively turned their backs on 2D gaming, but the passion for the golden days of side-scrolling action still lives on. Alien Hominid, the first upcoming game being published by O~3 Entertainment in conjunction with developer The Behemoth, is a perfect example. Fans of Newgrounds.com may be familiar with the simple, addictive game in which players take control of a yellow half-pint alien who devours FBI agents and blasts everything in sight. Since its online debut in August 2002, the prototype has garnered a huge userbase, which to date has reached over six million downloads of the game and prompted hundreds of sites mirroring the prototype. Now its invading the console realm and we were fortunate to get a brief glimpse of the game which undoubtedly is destined to become one of the biggest sleeper hits this year.
The story follows the misadventures of our "hero" who sets out to retrieve his ship from the clutches of the FBI. Although the game is a throwback to the 16-bit classic shoot-em' ups of old, Alien Hominid (A.H) is loaded with humorous nuances and plenty of challenge (read: it's incredibly hard). Players will face off against a bevy of enemies including FBI agents, Russian KGB officers, mechanized bosses, and evil teddies. Ugh, we didn't even manage to personally encounter the evil teddies, but we can imagine we'll grow to hate them. Although all of this sounds like amusing spectacles to behold, you're better off sticking to blowing them away before they waste your alien hide. Needless to say, expect to die - a lot. But come on, did you really want to play a game that you could beat in 1 hour?
Even if you're a fan of the original online installment, you'll find that the game's AI has been beefed up considerably. Thankfully, A.H. benefits from a few new melee attacks, including the ability to power-up your weapon, snatch enemies underground or slice n' dice your foes. You'll even be able to drive a variety of vehicles including bulldozers and snowmobiles which can come in handy when the action gets intense. How cool is that?
And trust me when I say there will be plenty of situations when things will get a bit wild and crazy. Fortunately, the game now supports co-op play, allowing you to team up with a friend and take on the massive forces together. This also opens up a few new gameplay options, such as the ability to ride on your teammates shoulders or perform powerful jumps to reach higher areas that would normally be inaccessible playing solo. We're willing to bet there's a few more other bonuses in store for the multiplayer mode, but will remain a secret for gamers to discover on their own.
Even if you're unable to enjoy the game with a friend, Alien Hominid offers plenty of replay value as we discovered with the variety of mini-games planned for the full version. Naturally, some of the best features were being kept under wraps, but we were given a glimpse of the PDA-style games. The objective is simple, but of course, extremely addicting as players are challenged to successfully reach the goal and avoid traps to reach the next level. And if 200 levels aren't enough to quell your enjoyment, the level editor offers the opportunity to develop and save your creations on a memory card. Furthermore, this particular mini-game supports up to four-players, so you can pass them along to your friends and challenge each other. Without a doubt, Behemoth went the extra mile by incorporating an abundance of added bonuses to enjoy even after you've completed the single-player mode.
Within the short period of time we spent with Alien Hominid, we can't wait to get our hands on the full version. With its whimsical approach and challenging gameplay, Alien Hominid might not spark a revolution of 2D gaming, but we're grateful that there's a developer out there willing to take a few risks to support one of the more cherished genres in gaming history. Check out the screens and the Alien Hominid official site, featuring all-new footage of the console edition. And if you're one of the unfortunate souls that haven't had a chance to play the game, might we suggest getting warmed up with the prototype at Newgrounds.com? Go on, click the link and indulge a true gem of 2D run-and-gun action.
Look forward to our complete hands-on report shortly after the game makes its retail release.