Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brilliant Alien Rip-Off

One of the arcade games I enjoyed playing in the late 1980s was a direct rip-off of Alien.  That game was Xenophobe.

Those who played the game remembered that it was unique for its three-level split screen, which allowed for players to explore the levels on their own without having to wait for their partner to catch up.  That wasn't what drew me to the game, though.

The graphics are a bit on the cartoony side, but it works for the game.  As one of several different characters you would explore space ships, space stations and the like looking for aliens to kill.  The aliens are what drew me to the game.  Not only did they kind of look like Alien, but you had eggs that hatched, giving birth to aliens that clung to your body.  Larger aliens spit acid at you, and acid also dripped from the ceiling in spots.  How Bally Midway got away with this is unknown, but to me the influence of the famous sci-fi movie was thoroughly blatant enough that I always wondered how the company didn't get sued.

The game got great reviews and is still loved by many.  If you look it up online you'll see many references to how much it resembles Alien in many ways.  What I could not find, however, was any mention of whether or not there was ever a lawsuit.  Seeing as the sci-fi franchise has had video games released, this seems like it would inevitable, yet there is nothing.  Perhaps it is because it is obvious to anyone playing the game that this is more of a homage than an attempt to cash-in on the movies.  Afterall, there are other sci-fi franchise nods in the game (such as to Star Trek).  Maybe this is the one time were companies thought, "Well, this is pretty cool.  Let's let it go."  If so, I thank them because I'm pretty sure any lawsuit would've gotten this game yanked from arcades and store shelves and a good portion of the world would never know just how it was to play.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I was not given this game to review.

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