This adaptation of Ridley Scott‘s classic film Alien was published for the Atari 2600 in 1982 by Fox Video Games. It has two significant distinctions: 1. it was the first ever officially-licensed video game to be based on the Alien series, and 2. it is probably the worst film-to-game adaption I’ve ever seen or played in my life…
Alien on the Atari 2600 is… a f***ing Pac-Man clone! A Pac-Man clone!! And not even a particular good one at that… You’re supposed to be walking through the air ducts, destroying alien eggs, but it looks like Pac-Man and sounds like Pac-Man, so the comparison is inevitable.
Is there anything good about Alien? Well, the graphics are okay (for the 2600), and if you manage to clear a maze of dots then you get a second screen that is a clone of Konami‘s Frogger! The wonders never cease… First Pac-Man, and then Frogger. And to shock you even more: the guy who programmed and designed Alien was no other than Doug Neubauer, the designer of the classic Star Raiders. I can only guess that Mr. Neubauer was under pressure from executives to make the game like this, or he was just picking up a paycheck on an assignment.
The Frogger section seems impossible to complete, and the aliens moving around the maze seem to speed up as the levels increase (and the number of power pills decreases), so the game starts to feel unfair rapidly.
It’s games like this – like Alien by Fox Video Games – that brought about the video games market crash of 1983. The market was so flooded with terrible games, sold at ridiculous prices, that many consumers in North America just stopped participating, which led to the death of many companies. Some deservedly so.