Alien Rampagne is a 2D side-scroller with large animated sprites and multiple layers of parallaxing backgrounds.
You are a lone angry alien dude with a bad attitude. You crash landed on an inhospitable planet, and thus you set out to get back to a ship so you can leave this horrible place. To make it, you'll blast hundreds upon hundreds of nasty creatures, enemy bounty hunters, and you'll use some pretty impressive weaponry to do it.
You'll also get to buy power ups and get help from the goofy local troll-like natives, to solve puzzles.
The gameplay consists of running, jumping and shooting, with a big emphasis on shooting. The action is very gory, and is akin to DOOM in 2D.
Alien Ramapge is the sort of game that I would have loved back in 1993. Unfortunately, I couldn't play it in 1993 because it wasn't release until 1996. That's three years after Doom had made its debut, two years after WarCraft and X-Com, and by 1996 those games even had sequels. The gaming market had moved well beyond side scrolling shooters and into the age of 3D and RTSs. Alien Rampage entered the market far too late. Perhaps the developers were hoping to revive an abandoned genre. Perhaps this game had an inordinately long development cycle. But whatever the reason, this marks the first and last game associated with the development team of "Inner Circle Creations."
This game could have really held its own had the playing field been a bit more level. It boasted 5 level multi-parallax scrolling backgrounds, smooth controls, innovative aiming scheme and gore, lots of gore. Take a hold of one of your seven available weapons and blast a flame breathing snail or alien eating plants or clicking crablike monster or laser wielding lizard man and you'll be rewarded with a shower of viscera. But not everything that moves is your enemy. A strange little man in a cloak will sell you weapons with the coins you've collected. Friendly wyverns will carry you on their back through the jungle. There are also Moorgs around, brutish local slaves who will often help you if you free them. The Moorgs will open doors you can't stand on buttons for you, give you coins, and in at least one case (in the first level) hunch over for you to stand on their back to reach a high ledge.
The plot of the game starts when the alien anti-hero, who looks like the child of Kermit the frog and Gene Simons, is shot down over a primitive planet and vows to avenge himself as he looks for the parts to repair his ship. Not that he needs the excuse. My guess is this guy would level the planet just because there is nothing on TV but re-runs.
The puzzles in the game are pretty standard, find the switch, get the key, and go to where you couldn't before. It's not always obvious what the affect of a certain switch is, so you may have to hunt around a bit. Usually it's not so bad and you don't backtrack very much unless you just have no idea what that last switch did or you keep falling through the same gap to an earlier part of the level. The game does a good job of giving you enough play time. All 20 levels are fairly expansive and the puzzles insure you don't just zip through.
In 1996 this game would have needed to be much more innovative than it was if it wanted to succeed against the giants of the time. But that's no matter now. Time, the great equalizer, has lessened the punch of those heavy hitters and now we can enjoy this game that we may have passed over before on its own merits.
Alien Rampage is a fun 2D horizontal platformer from indie developer Inner Circle Creations, who bought rights to the game (originally titled Ravager) from Apogee, finished it, and got Softdisk to publish it as shareware. More or less a "DOOM 2D" kind of game with a smattering of physical puzzles (e.g. shoot locks to open doors), the game unfortunately got much too little attention from gaming press and gamers. Strategy Plus summarizes the game's quality quite succinctly in their review:
"Though not graphically impressive, Alien Rampage is a side scrolling shooter heavy on gory violence and mindless action. Take control of an alien (who is more than vaguely reminiscent of the Predator) who has a lust for revenge so strong that not even death can stop him. He gets killed, he simply rises from the dirt again at the last save marker. There's some sort of story for why the ugly little guy is so determined, but it hardly matters. The character graphics are pretty large as this sort of game goes (indeed, it makes Hunter Hunted look like midget wrestling), and everything moves along fairly well.
There are some neat features (not new mind you, but neat) here. The alien can climb vines, manipulate switches and hang from ledges. There are some puzzle aspects to the game, and rendered boss monsters at the end of each world. But mainly, the levels in this game (over 20 of them) border on huge. It's not unthinkable for one level to take almost an hour to complete. Which brings up an annoying aspect of the game's design: it only saves the game after the completion of a level, the save markers only work while you are playing. Still, this is solid, classic gaming, with fierce action, fun and diverse levels, and good control."
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