06 March 2015


Publisher/Developer:  Sega
Format: Cartridge
Game Size: 256K
Rarity:  3
Game Type: Top Down Maze Rescue Shooting Arcade Conversion
Region: USA
Other Ways to Play: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Atari ST, FM Towns, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, NES, Game Gear, Sharp X68000, TurboGrafx-16, ZX Spectrum, Playstation 2 (remake)
Power Base Convertor Playable?: No, 3 and 6 both do not work.

Price I Paid: Unsure.  Probably 10 or so.
Price I Would Pay: 5 Dollars
Condition: Game, Case, Manual
Game Rating: OK
My History:  Played the C64 port back in the day.  Unsure when I even bought this one!

  Another of Sega's arcade titles few people in the US ever seemed to know of or care about, Alien Syndrome is one of those TOTALLY NOT ALIENS GUYS!  REALLY!  titles Japan seemed to release in an unending quantity upon arcades and consoles of the late 80s and early 90s.

  In this top down Zelda styled rescue shooter you have to save a number of people and reach the exit of a mazelike space ship/station within an ever counting down time limit and then defeat the boss to progress to the next ship and do it all again, usually with every new level having a bit more challenge of finding the captives and exit.

  Power ups are one shot items located on the walls.  S kills whatever is on screen, W warps you someplace else (usually a way to avoid running back from dead ends), N cancels your power up (because I dunno?), L gives you a full screen multiple hit thin laser that can go through everything, and FB gives you a short ranged fireball hit that is however thicker and more likely to hit things.

  Such as the bosses who you get to fight on a black background and who have various attacks, usually involving shooting things at you.  And like most classic era bosses they have weak points the flash when you hit them and they eventually change color.

There is also a ? mark power up that sometimes gives you a couple seconds of invulnerability or nothing.  In the arcade you could have a variety of fun weapons plus little robot buddies who would hover around your shoulders and randomly shoot things.  And you know, a MAP of the level.  No maps here, and enemies blink in randomly before fully forming on the screen, not counting the odd flickering or slowdown/speedup depending on what is going on. Who will sometimes pop up right where you are with no warning, yet being rather large sometimes it will kill you. And there are these little green face things that only temporarily go away when you shoot them that will sometimes shoot at you, in some cases like the N power down put in annoying places when you move from one screen to the next.  They also respawn without warning, albeit only in the places with a face.

  Oh.  And you die in a single hit.  With no continues.  The game's decent enough music will change when you have rescued enough people, letting you know that it is time to vamoose however.  Or you can hit the second button on your controller to check score and hostages left.  You can also die by falling into pits though honestly unless you are in a rush to avoid dying to the timer or errant shots coming your way from the faces you shouldn't die much at all to pits, even if many levels have you avoiding falling into them to reach pesky alien bait at the end of long catwalks...

(A LITTLE RANT: Yet another in the HUGE line up of SMS games where you don't see your score actively displayed.  Knowing when you gain a 1 up or how many lives you have while in action is rather important to keeping interest and excitement levels up, especially in arcade games where score is 80% of what keeps you playing.  WHY DO SO MANY SMS TITLES DO THIS?)

  The graphics and audio are actually rather nice though not a patch on the arcade original or the Playstation 2 remake which adds in a life bar, continues, and even the option to play Robotron  style.

Playstation 2 Sega Classics Collection Sega Ages port running on PCSX2 Emulator ver 1.2.1.  Now with optional twin stick firing!

Arcade version running on MAMEUIFX64.  Unless you really want me to take a screencap of my 32" HDTV and show it playing on my PS3 from the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection?

Game contents
Yes not exactly CEE TEN CASE FRESH VGA GRADED.  But it was most likely cheaper than a movie with junk food.  So a better and healthier value eh?  (I need to start doing curls and sit ups and jumping jacks again...)

These next eight screenshots are from the Kega Fusion emulator.
 The title screen with the little half face swapping of our two heroes.  No you can't choose which one to be in One Player mode.

 Typical screen.  Green face shooty things that come back to life after a point when you shoot them, a power up on the wall, a couple aliens, and a captive to rescue.

 One of the more challenging things.  Finding ways to get to some of the captives.


 Little walkways you have to navigate for extra fun.

 One of the bosses.  Black screen, giant boss with limited animation, and weak points.  This one looks like it is opening its' eyes but its really a giant brain or something getting exposed.

 Good to know game.  Good to know.  There are seven levels according to the manual.  If it wasn't for save states I wouldn't have made it to around stage five or six before the game and time constraints made me stop.  I would like to finish it eventually.  It isn't Thunder Blade by any means.  

I found the exit but I haven't found enough captives to leave.  Time is ticking away...

The next two shots are from an actual Master System.
Stop showing me the lady I cannot play as unless I find someone willing to come over and play Master System with me.

Master System video output: even through cables to a composite monitor it still hinders the machine's graphics.

Now two from a Genesis with Power Base Convertor!
 Look at this scrub just sitting there waiting for me to save him. 

After taking some damage the bosses generally change color to inspire you to finish them off.

Master System Play:  Outside of the usual SMS video output it plays just as good.  And honestly?  The SMS Control Pad is actually the BEST controller to use.  Just get a Turbo fire dongle or your hand will know pain.  Such terrible, terrible pain.  But sadly you just cannot use any Genesis controllers as your dude will immediately go to the left and not stop.  Also the Control Stick isn't good for this game as it basically won't let you go diagonal for movement very much at all. Which is kind of important for this style of top down shooter/exploration game. So the Control Pad or the Epyx XJ stick are the only ways I can play it on original hardware properly.  A shame.

Rating: Well it isn't awful by any means but it is far from good.  OK.  Still not really a must play or worth your time, especially as there are two PS2-PS3(360) Sega collections that have the superior arcade emulated or the Sega Ages remake which is quite good given it being a budget title.

Next Time:  Even though I keep getting major snowstorms here in March for SHOOTY RESCUE MONTH I shall persevere through Winter doldrums and general snow related irritation and try to save more little pixel people in Choplifter!

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