Time for the aliens to return
Wii’s Virtual Console has become a treasure trove of oldies, giving veteran gamers a way to relive old memories while introducing more recent additions to the 'gaming legion' to great games of the past. One such game is Alien Crush, one of the finest gems ever released for the TurboGrafx 16 platform. Developer Hudson Soft is giving gamers a treat by resurrecting this long-presumed-dead franchise. Alien Crush Returns maintains the addictiveness of the original while creating a brand new experience at the same time. Complete with updated visuals and online compatibility, the game is a shoe-in for Nintendo’s WiiWare.
Truth to tell, I am not really a fan of pinball games. Yet it proved hard to ignore all the praise that Alien Crush Returns has been receiving since its release. I was a little cautious at first about giving the game a try but thankfully decided to give the game a spin. Little did I know that the game would turn out to be one of my favorite WiiWare games.
Think before you act
Alien Crush Returns plays just like you would expect it to. By using the D-pad on the Wii Remote, players launch a ball into an alien-themed playing field, trying to prevent it from falling into a hole at the bottom of the screen. To this extend, the player is given control over a pair of flippers: the Z button controls the left flipper while the B controls the right.
You may find it odd to read that there is a strategic element to the game, yet there is. At any point throughout a session, you can select items that will influence your game. There is a wide variety in items, ranging from an additional ball to the playing field to giving balls a speed boost and even allow balls to perform a U-turn. Using items has a catch: once an item is used, you have to wait a few seconds in order to use it again. As you can see, it would be unwise to use items leisurely. For achieving the highest scores it is often better to use them when you need them most.
A pinball game wouldn’t be any fun if it wouldn’t let you compete for high scores. Thankfully, Alien Crush Returns will record your high scores and lists them accordingly. A more surprising play mode is the story mode. In this mode the game gives players a variety of missions and has them compete for high scores. The story mode offers a fun change of pace but is unfortunately a little short and can easily be finished in about an hour time.
Pinball is definitely more fun when you play it with other people. I was excited to learn that Alien Crush Returns includes online leader boards and online play. The leader boards allow players to check out how other players are doing, both globally and regionally. The online play lets you compete against other players around the world. While this works great for encounters with random players, it is unfortunate that Hudson Soft only reserved room for eight friend codes. For many Wii players that is not nearly enough.
The matchmaking system takes about three minutes to search for other players that are looking to compete. This quite long, especially when there aren’t that many people online to play against in the first place. Most of my attempts to find an online opponent failed but hopefully the game’s popularity will rise, making it easier to find people to play with.
Looks better on WiiWare
The new release comes with a huge graphical overhaul. Textures and lighting look great and at no point did I have the feeling that I was playing an old game. It is good to see that Hudson Soft paid so much attention to the graphics while leaving the style and ambiance of the original game intact. Rounding out this already very satisfactory package is the ability to download additional content such as extra stages and items that can be used during gameplay.
A few minor flaws aside, Alien Crush Returns is a great game with a high fun factor. The replay value is absolutely phenomenal and at only 200 points more than the original, the game is a steal. If you are looking for a game to keep you warm over the coming holidays, this one is for you.
No Pros and Cons at this time