Games like Alien Hominid are designed for Xbox Live Arcade. While the classics of yesteryear are fine and dandy, Hominid is the kind of game that you dream of when you think of a service such as XBLA. Originated on the internet as a simple Flash game Alien Hominid has already won praise and adoration from fans and critics alike. From its genuinely funny humor to the simple, yet addictive game play you cannot help but find enjoyment out of blasting through the 15+ levels of chaos.
The basic mechanic of the game draws from some of the classics such as Contra and the more recent Metal Slug. What separated it from these past efforts is the unique humor and chaotic game play that will certainly infuriate anyone trying to simply obtain another 200 Achievement Points. While simple in its premise Alien Hominid still manages to inject just enough personality to make it yet another must-own title for Microsoft’s ever-growing service.
Visuals & Sound
Unlike other titles ported to Microsoft’s Arcade service Alien Hominid supports true HD visuals that look fantastic running on a good setup. While the style of the game is far from a technological masterpiece the simple characters and outlandish animations really stand out from conventional shooters. The colors are all very vibrant and the backgrounds are chock full chaos that will have you stopping to enjoy the scenery more often than not. All of this runs at an impressive frame rate that never seems to dip.
The soundtrack is a nice mix of futuristic techno babble that fits the mood, but doesn’t stand out in any form or fashion. With the ability to import your own music via the custom soundtrack feature I am sure you can find some great soundtracks for the chaos here. The rest of the audio is your standard fare with booming explosions and some great sound effects that really mesh with the simplistic visuals.
Controls & Gameplay
Most of the action in Alien Hominid is pretty straight forward, but you do have a few moves in your arsenal that can spice up the gameplay. You have the ability to roll left and right with the triggers, which can be crucial in some of the later stages. You can also burrow yourself beneath the ground for a limited amount of time and snatch enemies unbeknownst to them into your chasm of death. Probably the most satisfying move though is the head bite. While in the air a simple tap of the A button will allow you to land on the shoulders of an unsuspecting enemy and ride them for a brief moment before taking a big bite of their noggin.
In addition to the lengthy single player campaign you also have a bevy of mini-games at your disposal. Most of these can be enjoyed via Xbox Live, but others require a solo affair. While they are all simple in nature, you can certainly find hours of entertainment to keep you busy after you complete the main game. Speaking of which this game is brutal; conquering the sixteen stages will take more than a few continues and test more than a little of your patience in the long run. Thankfully once a stage has been beaten you can start from there with a fresh set of continues, which does eliminate some of the frustration.
Just like the single player game these achievements are brutal. Obtaining all 200 points will take patience and lots of effort. There are certainly a few that you can easily achieve such as finishing level 1-1, but others will require you to master some of the game’s subtle nuances. There are a couple based on the mini games, but for the most part they are all done in the main quest. One of the highlights is definitely the head biting 50 agents before hitting the ground. If anyone manages to obtain this one you have my respect as that had to take some concentration and patience.
While you can partake in some co-op action via a single console there is no such mode found on Xbox Live. This seems like the game’s biggest drawback as co-op would be a main draw for a title like this. Instead the multiplayer portion of the game consists of mini-games and challenges that grow tiring very quickly. The inclusion of a true co-op mode is not out of the question with downloadable content, but as of now this is the one major gripe I have with this game. You can upload your score to a leaderboard, but that certainly doesn’t make up for completely severing the online co-op.
Alien Hominid is the epitome of what Xbox Live Arcade should be. This is one of the finest examples of the service since its inception and I cannot recommend this title enough. Even if you are not a fan of shooters there is plenty to love about this quirky title; and at 800 points it’s quite honestly a steal. We can only hope the rest of March delivers the same caliber of titles as XBLA is shaping up to be the premiere download service for casual and indie games alike.