First Impressions: Alien Crush Returns

Alien Crush Returns has been on our radar for some time now. We're massive fans of the original game here at WiiWare World and the idea of a 3D update has us very excited indeed. It's out in Japan as we speak and we've had a quick blast to see if this lives up to expectations.

Alien Crush Returns is a pinball game with a difference. Set in an alien world and based on the much loved PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 game, players will need to destroy aliens and use crafty special powers to rack up a high score.

Firstly, the graphics are excellent, definitely one of the best looking games on WiiWare. The tables you play on are like the insides of an alien creature, with highly detailed body parts that shift and pulsate, and alien blood that boils and fizzes with gruesome realism. As a bonus, and providing you have the correct equipment, you can view the game in 480p widescreen.

There are plenty of modes on offer. In the Arcade mode you choose one of three tables to play on and the idea is to survive for as long as possible and get the highest score you can. In story mode you play through all the tables in the game. In order to progress in the story mode you must destroy specific aliens dotted around the table and even defeat two enormous bosses! We were unable to try the versus modes but you will be able to complete against up to three other people at home or over Wi-Fi.

Alien Crush returns is a simple game to play but it reveals hidden depths the more you play. You control the left flipper with the Z-button on the Nunchuk, and the right flipper is controlled with the B-button on the Wii remote. These controls can be reversed for left-handed players.

A quick shake of the Wii Remote will tilt the table causing the ball to change its speed and direction slightly. We found this particularly useful when spotting a ball heading directly between the flippers. An important aspect of all pinball games are the ball physics, and We found them to be spot-on with the ball behaving exactly as it should.

You could quite easily play the game with these controls alone, but if you want a high score you will need to use the special powers at your disposal. Only one power is available at the start with more being unlocked as you progress through the story mode. The first power is the speed boost. If timed correctly a boosted ball can take out tough aliens with a single hit. The second power gives you the ability to reverse the direction of the ball, which can be a life saver if you have quick reflexes. The final special power is the double ball. This will add an extra ball on the table for a short time allowing for lots more points.

There’s so much we haven’t had time to talk about, but we can tell you this is rapidly becoming one of our favourite WiiWare games. With great graphics and gameplay to match, Alien Crush Returns is definitely one to look out for when it is released in your region. Watch this space for a full review after it's debut in the West.