Games that Time Forgot: Alien vs Predator (Atari Jaguar)
For this weeks dive into the vaults of gaming history I am going back to 1994 for Alien vs Predator for the ill-fated Atari Jaguar. Developed by Rebellion Software, the same team who went on to make the PC versions of the AvP series, this game was a true diamond that was missed due to the obscurity of the platform. The game is set in deep space on board a colonial space marine ship which had been boarded by both an Alien ship and a Predator ship, you can choose which of the three forces you play as, each with their own storyline and gameplay style.
Playing as the marine, the game is a relatively straightforward FPS, you run around, shoot some enemies and collect new guns. The aim of the game as the marine is to find a way to open the highest security level door, set the self destruct and evacuate the ship in an escape pod.
As the Predator, the goal is to collect the skull of the Alien queen located deep within the Alien ship and return victorious with it back to the Predator ship. The Predator is armed with is vast array of toys, but these are unlocked using an honour system. Killing an enemy from behind, when invisible or with a ranged weapon will result in a loss of honour, while using a melee weapon and being visible will increase your points. The predator is also armed with a huge range of different vision filters, although only the thermographic one is actually much use.
The Alien was easily the most fun to play, you have 3 simple weapons, bite, claw and tail, and by performing a simple combination of attacks you can cocoon humans to act as extra lives. When you die, you would return to the oldest cocoon you set and then it would be destroyed. Your goal as the Alien is to rescue the queen, who is being held on the predator ship. This was by far the easiest campaign, and the only one I ever actually completed, mainly because it was the only mode where you had lives\restart points.
The game ran on a modified Wolfenstein 3D engine, as that game was also ported to the Jaguar, meaning that there was no looking up or down, square corners and very little transparency. Visually the game was not stunning, it wasn’t even the best on the system, but the depth of the game (for an FPS) was immense for the time and the fact there was 3 campaigns meant there was plenty of meat to sink your teeth into. This game was also the only game that ever made real use of the 12 extra buttons on the Jaguars controller, assigning each button to a different weapon or item (i.e. medkit), just like playing a PC game, they gave you 3 little covers to slip over the buttons (one for each force) so that you did not have to remember which button was which.
I would have to say that this is easily my favorite game for the Jaguar (except maybe Kasumi Ninja), and a great example of good uses for a film license, it is just such a pity that so few people ever really got to play this game, or even play on a Jaguar full stop. If you enjoy playing Wolfenstein (or Rise of the Triad) era FPS’s, then maybe you should hunt out an emulator and see if you can find a copy, you won’t be disappointed.