Whether it’s alien invaders or alien protagonists, extraterrestrials have always been a gaming crowd-pleaser—and these bug-eyed, gray-skinned fellas have played some major roles in quite a few terrific franchises over the years. So, EGM thought the time was right to take a look at five of our favorite games involving aliens!
Released: June 1978 – Arcade
Suddenly, everything we thought we knew about the universe and our place in it was wrong. We were not alone. There were aliens among us, hanging in the night sky. And they were not friendly. Sure, their military strategy—to move in a line, occasionally dropping down and reversing course, and only speeding up when their numbers grew thin—may have seemed easy to counter, but we were young. Naïve. And every time we thought we wiped them out, another regiment would take their place. Sometimes, one of their commanders would fly above the troops, openly mocking us, daring us to take him out. Were it not for the barricades, it would’ve ended much sooner. But even they only held up for so long. In the end, we were doomed.
Released: May 31, 1997 – PS1
Think Bruce Campbell starring as a wisecracking Marine investigating an Area 51 alien incident would make a great game? Well, that’s because it already is! In the wake of higher-profile titles like Vandal Hearts and Symphony of the Night back in 1997, Konami released a clever little under-the-radar third-person shooter featuring everyone’s favorite charming rogue as he unraveled the mystery behind his father’s bizarre death 15 years ago. Along the way, the boomstick-packing Bruce had to deal with mad scientists, various and sundry alien beings, and a trigger-happy squadmate who bore more than a passing resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger…or was it McBain? But the game’s biggest hooks were its multiple endings and real-time structure that saw you race the clock to get to the bottom of the alien answers—think Dead Rising with an extraterrestrial twist.
Released: February 20, 1987 – NES
Some perceptively classic games just don’t hold up under the magnifying glass of modern design sensibilities, but what can possibly break down in the collective of aliens, elegant simplicity, two-player action, and the name Contra? That’s right, kids—only one of the greatest franchises of the 8- and 16-bit generations in Contra, Super C, and Contra III: The Alien Wars. Whether it was furiously inputting the 30-man code in the NES original or heeding the unforgettably awkward call to “attack aggressively” on the Super NES, this series offered an endless array of weapons, aliens, and hardcore challenges. Fighting my buddy for the Spread shot as diligently as the alien scum was hard to beat.
Released: 1991 – TurboGrafx-16
Boarding a cargo station floating in the darkness of space, you—along with your computer-hacking partner Leon—are simply looking for a little loot to snatch and hopefully turn around for some quick cash. Instead, the station’s self-destruct sequence is triggered, and to make matters worse, its floors have been invaded by an unknown alien life-form. Graphically simple and conceptually quaint by today’s standards, Silent Debuggers was an amazing experience for me at the time. As you traversed the first-person hallways of the station, there was a creepy, hopeless atmosphere to the game, punctuated by the total lack of background music; the only sounds were that of your footsteps—or your motion sensor as you get dangerously close to some hideous xenomorph.
Eric L. Patterson
Destroy All Humans
Released: June 21, 2005 – Xbox, PS2
It’s hard to pick just one entry in this hysterical spoof series of alien invasions and American pop culture. The franchise spans the ’50s through the ’70s and stars an alien named Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium-137…and later 138) who’s just the latest in a long line of clones, as Crypto’s species, the Furons, no longer procreate by traditional means. That means Crypto must collect Furon DNA that’s long been hidden in the brain stems of humans after the Furons vacationed on Earth eons ago and unintentionally planted some “seeds.” With unforgettable characters, tons of insane weaponry, and awesome environment destruction, the Destroy All Humans! series is one of my favorite gaming guilty pleasures.