It's easy to dismiss Alien Crush as "just another video pinball game," but those who do so will be missing out on an outstanding Turbografx-16 game. While it is a pinball game at heart, Alien Crush somehow takes a great Alien theme and manages to craft a very unique and long-lasting pinball gaming experience around it.
There's not much to the gameplay, as all you really do is work the various flippers and launch your ball occasionally, but the way Hudson has carefully laid out the levels and sub-levels it all functions together to make the game addictive and fun. Many a sleepless night has been spent flipping that ball around this organic alien-filled pinball machine and somehow even all these years later, the hypnotic draw of this game is still somehow present. The game even throws in some nice mini-games to mix up the action a little bit and keep things feeling fresh.
It's easy to see that Alien Crush was inspired by the Alien movies, as most of the visual elements of the game involve various creatures from the movies, not to mention the backgrounds and ball-launching pod. The pod itself is a dead ringer for the pods in the movies in which the facehuggers jump out from. The visuals are all beautifully drawn and add a nice and spooky aura to the game. Although Alien Crush was one of the earliest Turbografx-16 titles, it still looks fantastic, even all these years later. The huge number of colors on screen was impressive for its time and still is for that matter. Who would have thought that the Alien theme would make for such a spectacular and enjoyable pinball experience.
There are a lot of Turbografx-16 titles that have great soundracks, but the moment you hear the tunes in Alien Crush, there's no doubt that a lot of effort was put into these two tracks. You'd think that a game that played the same song throughout the duration of the game would get old after awhile, but these two tracks just project the spooky alien theme to perfection without ever becoming tiresome or repetitive. "Lunar Eclipse" is the better song of the two, but if you get a little tired of it, you can always select "Demon's Undulate" at the options screen for something a little different. It's a little faster-paced, but it's also just as eerie as Lunar Eclipse when you get right down to it. As if the music wasn't great enough, the sound effects in Alien Crush are among the best heard on the Turbografx-16 system. Say what you want to about the Super NES and Sega Genesis sound chips, but the Turbografx-16 sound chip certainly was no slouch either and Alien Crush is a shining example of this.
Alien Crush might not be the type of title some people are expecting from the Turbografx-16 library, but it's a perfect title to release for the Wii's Virtual Console. It's simple, well-designed, and is absolutely impossible to put down once you start playing it. Some of the Turbografx-16 games aged better than others and Alien Crush is one of those that aged to perfection. Many Turbo fans rank the sequel, Devil's Crush, above this title, but I can't help but disagree. To me Alien Crush captured the entire Alien theme so perfectly and somehow managed to build an outstanding pinball game around the whole thing. If you appreciate a game that's just downright fun to play, Alien Crush will likely cause you a few sleepless nights just like I has me.