Super Nintendo, NES & GameBoy tomfoolery;

(back to article list)

Up from (Super) Obscurity

In a beat-em-up world where every enemy is Abobo...
...and 2/3rds of those Abobos drop 4-use throwing weapons when they die...
...and their sprites are re-drawn so they look like science fiction space monsters!
Congratulations, you have just imagined Alien vs. Predator, for the Super Nintendo!
The Thrilla in Spacenilla! (Please don't ask "why", though)
Today we'll be talking about a very important piece of video game history marketing tie-in that is the Super Nintendo's alien punch-up game, Alien vs. Predator.
For some reason, concerned science fiction enthusiasts (aka "nerds") have been obsessed with the idea of the space monsters from the movie ALIEN and ALIENS having an Intergalactic Weighty Mass Championship Title Bout with the OTHER space monsters from Predator and Predator 2.
It's unclear why this is; perhaps the Aliens are upset that their sequel didn't get a "2" after it, requiring but a single letter (and an "S" at that -- the poor man's weapon in Scrabble!) to differentiate the original film from its sequel. Or alternately, maybe the Predator(s) are displeased by the fact that the biometalpenis-things from Alien(s) have a monopoly on the word "alien." It would be like your neighbor down the street calling his family "The Humans;" what does that make YOUR family? Are you not humans? If you prick you, do you not spurt molecular acid?
And speaking of nonsense movie phrases including "acid", how about that "boiling acid" people sometimes run in to (sometimes literally!) in 1950s and '60s horror movies? Don't they know that the caustic properties of acid are CHEMICAL, and not THERMAL? It would be like saying, "this freeze-ray has a PH balance of 4!"
Woah, way off topic --
Once I start dredging my memory for Junior High School Earth Science facts rather than talking about the game in question, you know it must be good!
But there we go -- back on topic!
Really, the above image is all you really need to know. The makers of this game saw two pretty classy horror/monster film franchises, then (presumably) watched the 1994 Double Dragon movie starring Allysa "Who's the Boss?" Milano and Robert "Liquid Metal" Patrick (and some other people as Billy and Jimmy Lee), and thought they'd just figured out how to make a pile of money:
Double Dragon = a great video game about punching guys in the face which made an even worse movie, so Alien + Predator = a great and pretty good movie which could make an even worse video game about punching guys in the face!
So, Alien vs. Predator was born! Or as I like to call it, Final Fight Spacebattle: Where Hagar is Replaced by a Dreadlocked, Turtle-Foreheaded Faceless Guy with Blue Wardrobe Highlights!
And, in keeping in line with the concept Intellectual Property of the movie franchises they were exploiting exploiting, they decided to...uh... well, not do too much. Y'see, as Ian "Ash" Holm said about the ALIEN in the first movie, "they are the perfect killing machine." And you can't really improve on perfection. So, allow me to present the entire basic enemy sprite lineup:
On the far left, you'll see "tall, upright ALIEN" (Xeno-erectus? Ha ha ha ha). In the middle, Predator (that's you!). On the right, "bent-over curly-fries ALIEN."
Aside from bosses, and the occasional facehugger that skitters along the ground (which only takes 1 hit to kill, or leaves after hitting you once, so I think that can be considered a "trap" rather than an "enemy"), you'll fight palette swaps of those two sprites for the entire game.
Nintendo and Super Nintendo beat-em-up games are notoriously light on footsoldier types: usually all gangs of street toughs have at most 10 different body-types and even less attack patterns (most of which you see in the first level or two), so the entire villain army is made up of photocopies of those poor mooks. If you're lucky, you get a colorful boss at the end of each level, and if you're playing a top-tier game, you'll see different palette-swaps of the enemies as you go, to create a sense of variety.
But those gangs look like a bastion of individuality compared to the ALIENs that your Predator has decided to box with: here you just have those two different Alien body types, with two palette-swaps of the Tall Alien, and 3-4 palette swaps of Shrimpy McBentOver alien. One or two of those different colored aliens behave slightly differently -- one of them spits acid, for example...a nice shout-out to the fact that the aliens used to burst scalding acid upon any injury. Other than the spit, I guess the Predator's got a pretty thick skin, because he spends the entire game punching them to death with his bare hands without getting acid-scalded at all, or even THINKING about putting on the nice pair of space-mittens his space-grandmother knitted for him before he left Alpha Centauri!
So, for the most part, if you've punched one alien(s), you've punched 'em all...
So, why would you keep playing?
Well, they try to mix it up a little by giving you lots of missile weapons. At least half the enemies seem to drop the Predator's trademark "metal frisbee of death" weapon or "big pointy spear" weapon. These give you about four free shots that both travel the length of the screen and do marginally more damage than punching.
Aside from that, uhh......
Did I mention the AWESOME CUT SCENES BETWEEN LEVELS, consisting of well-drawn but completely static pictures and "cool" scrolling text?
Ok, that's a little unfair; most of the dialog matches the "professional" nature of the Predators as "big game hunters trying to find the best prey", stuff like "The Predators have eliminated all the Aliens in the City." However, this example is sort of the lamest: "A number of the human victims could still be if the Predators cared." might as well be followed by Mwah-ha-ha!!! and a twirling of a villainous mustache.
There's no reason for that dialog about "humans being saved" to be there, and they acknowledge that by immediately pooh-poohing the idea of saving humans. It doesn't present the Predators as implacable intergalactic thrill-seekers who look at all other life in the galaxy as animals to be hunted for makes them seem like a little kid frying ants with a magnifying glass... makes them seem like...
Hmmm, there's a word for that kind of person, but I can't put my finger on me out, Day Dreamin' Davey!
Alien Vs. BULLY!
— carlmarksguy, 2012-02-03
The lack of variety in the Aliens seems particularly unfortunate given the Aliens' schtick of gaining the form of whatever host animal they popped out of. Set the sequel in a zoo, that'd give you plenty to go at. I eagerly await the fearsome Platypus Alien.
I think Platypuses already ARE aliens. Aside from their electro-radar, paddles, bills, and mammals-with-eggs, they have POISON CLAWS in their back feet. They are clearly infiltration creatures from a distant plant with a goofy sense of humor.
You mustn't forget Basilisks. Lizards that walk...on WATER?! Clearly, they are Not Of This Earth.
Oh man, that's one freaky-cookie lizard! I would definitely want a Predator-type laser cannon if I encountered one of them. SPEAKING OF WHICH: when I played through SNES AvP again, I realized your built-in "Laser" attack is actually the best weapon in the game. If you charge it all the way it smart-bombs the screen and costs health; but if you charge it medium it shoots a ranged attack for free! The game then becomes about making sure both enemies are on the same side of you and blasting them both repeatedly.
(back to article list)

more me!

latest comments

9/19/20: The Wrong Tools to Patrol Ghouls by CarlMarksGuy
9/16/20: The Wrong Tools to Patrol Ghouls by Meteo Xavier
4/18/20: Mark Davis explains how to operate a hat. by CarlMarksGuy
4/16/20: Mark Davis explains how to operate a hat. by Stumptronic


Super Nintendo


Up from (Super) Obscurity (87)
NES Obscurity Quicky! (49)
Smorgasbored! (30)
Boy in Gray (24)
Cover Art Theatre (24)
killer Vaniller filler (14)
Four Reflections for Filler (7)

Short + Sweet
New Ancient Wisdom (383)
Shenanigans &/or Shinola (33)
Picture-in-Picture (22)
Miscquoted (21)
Pointless Point Pointers (11)
Made Up Facts! (6)


Bats/Cats/Rats/Gnats (33)
Beat-em-ups (44)
Bees Will End You (11)
Button Zone Defense (7)
CarlMarksGiger (5)
Censors on Maximum! (6)
Character DeCreation (7)
CHOPPAH (get to da) (8)
Cover Art...yeah. (9)
CRAZYGRAMPS-Approved (10)
Cross Hairs (14)
CTRL-ALT-Sports (39)
Cut the Cut Scenes! (50)
Delicious Power-Ups! (19)
Digitized Photos=Bad (34)
Dojo Mojo (15)
e-Pistolary Whipped (2)
Faces in the Crowd (8)
Fighty-Fight-Fight (39)
Foreground Peekaboo (3)
Form of: Plat! (86)
Fun with Cybernetics (28)
Glitched Pictures (12)
Go for the Gold! (19)
GOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (4)
Grappling Hook-y (5)
Gritty Urbs & Spices (37)
Haberdasher Galaxy (19)
Haiku You! (11)
Hellish Moppet (24)
Hi, Explosives! (16)
High Fashion (43)
I Give Up! (59)
I have bad taste (18)
Ice is Nice (14)
Informative Info! (46)
It's a Holiday! (12)
Jumpy-Stabby (43)
Keep on Truckin' (12)
Kids today! :P (15)
Laser-Powered Fist (10)
LevHELL Select (14)
Melting Flooring (6)
Mini(scule) Games (12)
Mission: Implausible (26)
Moto-cross/-cycle (14)
Movie Cash-In! (59)
Muscles n' Mullets (20)
no pants (19)
Not the BOSS of me! (21)
Oh, Aliens did it. (25)
Paid Celeb Spokesman (31)
Pigging Out (8)
Pirates &/or Ninjas (47)
Player 2 I <3 You (17)
Port-a-Porty (29)
Prehistoria Euphoria (18)
Puzzling, yes? (27)
Racing a La Mode 7 (11)
Random Spotlight! (15)
Rasslin'!!! (7)
Recursive Recursion (7)
Rushing Beat-ings (8)
Scan Th Funny Manual (3)
Scoot or Die (7)
Shabby Olive Drabby (20)
Shoot-em-U/D/L/R (62)
Shpiiidah! (10)
Snap th Game's a Job (13)
Spiky Apocalypse! (22)
Stupor Heroes! (16)
Sum-Sum-Summertime! (9)
Swords, Elves, Etc (32)
THAT'S how you win? (3)
The Grating Outdoors (24)
The InterNOT (2)
The Name Game! (18)
The Time Warp Excuse (18)
Toon In! (31)
Top 10 or so! (23)
U Stink But I <3 U (9)
Un-licensed to kill (22)
Uneven Challenge (18)
Unwieldly Projectile (33)
Warp Door Mazes (5)
Weird Animals (67)
What a scoop! (10)
What's the Password? (20)
Wheels + Feet = Go (7)
Whirled Tour! (13)
Woebegotten Sequels (21)
X marks the XTREME! (9)


elsewhere on the web...
Flying Omelette
Rage Quitter 87
Random Hoo Haas