After a few weeks full of ports and disappointing original titles on the eShop, Japanese studio G-Style's 3DS-exclusive Alien on the Run is a breath of fresh air, a surprisingly addictive "comical escape game" that has arrived on the store at relatively short notice. You play as an alien named Delude who has been abudcted by a UFO, and you've got to escape before the timer runs out; Alien on the Run consists of over 80 quick levels that lend themselves perfectly to the pick-up-and-play nature of handheld gaming, and scale from laughably easy to infernally difficult as the game progresses, with an outlandish schizophrenic sense of humour along the way.
The levels in Alien on the Run are full of classic video game obstacles like ice patches and electrified tiles, but rather than traditional enemies blocking your path, the UFO attacks Delude with tractor beams that try to suck him up – these tractor beams create the crux of Alien on the Run's gameplay. The beams are your primary opponents through the entire game, and Delude has the ability to slide on the ground to speed through them. If Delude slides through an orange tractor beam, he destroys the beam and gains a few seconds added back to the countdown clock; purple beams are invincible, and all Delude can do is avoid them at all costs.
This title boasts an intuitive and simple control scheme to match the core play: the Circle Pad is used for movement and B for almost every action, including sliding and interacting with obstacles. When a tractor beam begins to suck Delude up, mashing the B button helps him escape its grasp; other times you'll need to press B at just the right moment to activate a catapult that launches Delude to the next level, or to destroy a punching bag that stands in his way. There's a "retry" button on the touch screen that lets you quickly start a level over again without any load time, which abates some of the frustration of trying levels over and over.
Alien on the Run is split into 17 different zones of five levels each; after completing the helpful tutorial, you can tackle many of the zones in whatever order you choose. The first four levels of each zone are all escape sequences, but in a nice change of pace, in the last level of each zone Delude must find a collection of chili sauce bottles that can launch him back to his home planet – the sauce is particularly spicy and gives him a rocket boost in the gastrointestinal tract, if ya know what we mean. Early stages in Alien on the Run are all about simply getting to the finish line unharmed, but as you get better at the game later levels give you much less time on the clock, and in a clever twist sliding through orange tractor beams to add precious seconds to your time becomes an integral part of gameplay.
With a limited number of objects and assets, Alien on the Run is still, nevertheless, filled to the brim with clever level design. A particular highlight is a pair of zones late in the game that are full of chase sequences where Delude must run from a giant moving purple beam, reminiscent of the boulder-escape levels in Crash Bandicoot.
There are a few hints of Alien on the Run's low budget; many of the art assets are reused from level to level, the same exact cutscene plays after you finish each zone, and the game doesn't use the stereoscopic 3D effect of the 3DS at all. But for a $3.99 download title,it's incredibly polished with impressive 3D graphics and an eccentric soundtrack. Every time Delude destroys a tractor beam, he stops the game for half a second and strikes a goofy WarioWare-esque pose like sitting on the toilet or standing like a noble samurai; at first this can be jarring and take you out of the game flow, but there's a surprisingly wide collection of poses to uncover, and soon enough you'll want to destroy tractor beams just to see the next pose.
One of Alien on the Run's nicest touches is the ability to preview every single level before you play it, using the Circle Pad to move the camera around so you can plot out your desired escape route – many other racing games would do well to adopt this feature. There's plenty of replay value, too: after you complete each level, you're given a letter grade and encouraged to beat your personal high score, not only by getting through the stage more quickly but also by destroying more orange beams and other obstacles to gain time bonuses – when you return to early zones after mastering more advanced techniques in the later stages, you'll look at the early levels in an entirely new light.
Alien on the Run is a pleasant surprise, but don't take our word for it: it has a free downloadable demo available now on the 3DS eShop, so you can check it out. We think it's worth the low price of admission for dozens of shrewdly-designed levels of unique action racing gameplay; the 3D graphics and bizarre sense of humour are simply icing on the extraterrestrial cake. With intuitive controls and quick portable-friendly stages, Alien on the Run is a title you'll have trouble putting down.
Might give it a go. It sounds pretty good.
Looks interesting, good review. I will have to wait for pay which is May 30th for me and i think there was another game I was supposed to buy that day, can't remember what off the top of my head. Will get this at some point though; good review.
@luke88 Mario kart 8, Tomogachi Life(?), PS4 for 3DS. (because PS4 games should be on the 3DS, Duh!)
Well this went under the radar for me. Looks good enough to at the very least give the demo a try. This is why I read reviews. Great job!
Hmm, sounds good but the demo will be the deciding factor. Thanks for the review on a game I otherwise wouldn't have glanced at.
Looks cool! Also, the alien reminds me of the Yellow Devil from Megaman.
"After a few weeks full of ports and disappointing original titles on the eShop..."
I love how this logic applies only to Nintendo devices, it seems, one hardly hears PS or MS fanboys calling the games that come to their consoles "ports" in a pejorative sense. No, MS and Sony devices only get "multi-plats."
I took it for shovelware. Not sure if I'll download it, but I'll at least try the demo first.
@Daisaku36 They normally get the best or close to the best versions. (Or at least think they do). Only Nintendo and PC gamers have the problems with least possible effort ports.
What a nice little surprise, sounds great! Glad to hear this turned out fun, definitely want to pick it up later. Shame it doesn't have online leaderboards though, it'd be perfect!
I would have bought this and chain blaster but the dev doesn't seem bothered about the UK
@PS4 It was a poor joke on my part. I am, of course, buying Mario Kart 8 on the 30th. I have not been this excited for a game in a long time; thoughts of mario kart occupy every minute of every day.
@PS4 Perhaps one of those little winking faces would have done the trick.
Looks interesting, may think about getting someday.
No love for UK? Alrighty then.
I will try the demo but it sounds right up my alley
Last night I came home after a few drinks and thought "I will go and play some MK8", just to remember a few moments later that it has not released yet. May has proven a neverending month.
This review confuses me by saying the game doesn't have stereoscopic 3D and then praising the 3D graphics. If it's a 3D-rendered game, why wouldn't it provide us with stereoscopic 3D, and how can you possibly praise the 3D graphics if they did something as lazy as making a 3D game for the 3DS yet only allow you to view it in 2D? That's a huge downside to buying this game for those of us that bought a 3DS specifically to play games in 3D, and the conclusion of this review will mislead anyone that doesn't read the whole thing.
@iphys 3D graphics is probably referring to the world of the game, which has been programmed in 3D. The game, however, doesn't feature the 3DS stereoscopic effect, aka 'pop-up effect'. At least that's what I think he meant.
This game was quite a surprise! I'm loving every second of its quirky, offbeat humor combined with addictive gameplay.
Well at the very least this review has allowed for a demo try. Pleasant surprise buy for me maybe. Good review, and way to add that "don't take my word for it" part!!
@sinalefa haha,I know what you mean. I don't think I've ever seen this much game footage pre-release before; I feel a bit like I've played it already. Just a few days to go now.
I agree with iphys. The reviewer should have said "impressive polygonal graphics" rather than "impressive 3D graphics". The way he says that it has impressive 3D graphics immediately after saying that it doesn't use the 3D at all is very confusing!
It sounds awesomely wacky, but I don't like being rushed to this degree in my video games, so I'll pass.
Based on the demo, I don't think this game is nearly fun enough to ignore the fact that G-Style has completely overlooked implementing the 3D effect AGAIN... I put up with it for Crazy Construction, but only because I think that's a much more enjoyable game.
Yet another 3DS game with no 3D...
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