Hmmm, where do I start with Alien vs Predator on the SNES? The in-play music is still in my head two hours since I stopped playing it which isn’t a good sign…
The intro starts and things don’t look great. Bar a few stills of the alien, it looks 8-bit good/16-bit bad and with it some of the most repetitive mundane music the SNES has ever seen. Straight away AvP (as I’m going to moniker it) feels rushed, especially with its title screen containing zero options. Zero. Which would be fine if this was an arcade game you’d put 50p into but no, this is a SNES game you’d have paid around £50 for.
So what have Activision opted for? Final Fight with aliens. Sounds like a great concept, shame about the execution. Aliens are causing havoc on earth or something and there’s only one (other) alien than can help us. The Predator. As if he’d help us. More like have us for dessert after his Alien bloodbath…
Graphics-wise, AvP has me extremely confused. On the one hand we have the shocking intro sequence and cut scenes and on the other hand we have some of the biggest, baddest sprites you’ll see on the 16-bit. Even the Predator in his weird bronze/blue getup looks the business. Shame everything moves like a Benny Hill episode. AvP suffers from the same sprite problem as the first Final Fight on the SNES, meaning that you can only tackle two enemies at once (I’ll explain this repercussions of this later on). The sprites don’t have many frames of animation, so when they’re hurtling towards you (and my do they hurtle) everything looks a bit silly. The colour choices for the backgrounds are also interesting with splotches of blue hither and dither, to brighten up their innate dullness perhaps?
The sound effects are limited to say the least. Players will grow wary of the same “thud” after every punch/kick/throw. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard music this bad on a SNES game. I mean, come on! It’s capable of so much more than slight variations of the same horrible tune (which is sure to haunt me in my dreams as well as anyone who touches it).
The level selections range from the mundane (hit those city streets/sewers) to the absolutely Sonic-inspired mental (zany spaceport anyone???). But they all look, for the want of a better word, crap. And they play just as badly. There is nothing measured about AvP. The sprite issue leads to them being super-fast and also incredibly difficult to kill when you first play the game. Predator has a punch, his (admittedly still awesome) laser gun and a weird Vega-esque slide tackle. Punching feels awful, it might as well have been labelled a slap, and the collision detection all round is dodgy. Charging up your laser beam is fun, obtaining the cloak power-up is not. It would have nice for the player to see the Predator when said cloak has been obtained but the developers clearly didn’t think it necessary.
Boss fights are hilarious. They take up half the screen with our lil Predator not far behind which equals a lot of button mashing and no room to manoeuvre. Each Alien-type has one move which seems to be its ultimate weakness and after a few goes on Alien vs Predator you’ll work this out. The action goes from extremely frustrating button mashing to extremely frustrating pulling off the same move time and time again (hint: Vega).
The learning curve is non-existent which means you’re unlikely to use all those continues you get or pick the cart up again that same afternoon. In fact you’ll find yourself in the conservatory weeping before you get anywhere near the end of this game and trust me, it’s not worth it. With a little more measure in the action, a slowing down of the pace and some better collision detection there might have been something here approaching average. Truly awful. And will someone please rush me some 2Unlimited.