Konami ruled much of the arcade scene in the late ’80s, early ’90s, fighting alongside greats like Capcom, Taito, and Data East. One where Konami was almost infallable was licensed titles. They are fondly remembered for their Ninja Turtle efforts, the Simpsons Arcade Game, and X-Men beat-em-ups.
Forgotten though is Aliens, a vividly colored adaptation of the James Cameron film (and recent Blu-ray release). A two-player blast-a-thon, the arcade ditches any of the tension, has Ripley blasting through the facility, and wiping out hordes of Aliens, many of them exclusive to the game.
What it lacks in accuracy it makes up for with intensity. The critters never stop coming, apparently oblivious to the flame thrower or three-way shot. Add in another player to fend off against the stream of face huggers, and the screen never stops.
Surprisingly playable, plagued only by the extravagant difficulty in the later levels, Aliens splits the gameplay. Standard levels are typical side-scrolling affairs, playing much like a beat-em-up, minus the punching. Other levels take on a third-person view, eventually adopted for Konami’s GI Joe and Rambo III arcade cabs. Jumping onto the APC featured in the film, the player zooms down corridors, all while avoiding and blasting Aliens foolish enough to jump into the players path. It’s a chase for the orphaned young girl Newt, who will occasionally show up in the background to remind players of their goal.
It’s loud, it’s aggressive, and it’s everything arcade games from that era were about.