Latest posts by Sam Panico (see all)
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Let’s face it — there may be no greater artistic influence upon video games than the movie Alien and HR Giger’s alien designs. I had this hypothesis in mind when I started brainstorming this and through research, I’ve been delighted at every turn as I learn just how many games have taken their cue from either the movie itself or from its biomechanical art style.
Irem’s 1987 shooter R-Type is all about the battle between space ship R9 and the alien race known as the Bydo… more like biting on Giger’s style! One look at the game and its art proves it — but this game has plenty going for it, being the start of a genre of increasingly impossible side-scrolling shooters from Japan. In fact, a sequel called XMultiply takes the inspiration inside a woman’s body who has been possessed by an alien queen.
Konami’s 1987 classic Contra is replete with Giger-like references, including literal face huggers, which also show up in cameos in Konami titles like Konami Wai Wai World, Gradius 2 and 1994’s Mega Turrican, which goes even deeper into Giger territory. Just look at this end boss!
Nintendo’s Metroid series pits Samus Aran against Ridley, a pterosaur space pirate with glowing red eyes and a tail suspiciously like an alien. The name is a dead giveaway — he is named for Alien director Ridley Scott and the designers of the Metroid series freely own up to being inspired by the movie series.
Nintendo’s 90s competition, Sega, also had plenty of games influenced by Mr Scott’s masterwork. From Alien Syndrome in 1987 and 2007 to 1990’s Alien Storm, one can simply look at the box art to see the influence…err, a complete rip-off.
There are plenty more influenced characters, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time’s Pizza Monster to the G larvae and Verdugo from the Resident Evil series. Every corner of the video game universe has at least one nod to our favourite xenomorphs — but one classic game is pretty much the Alien experience taken verbatim — yet it’s much better than nearly every official game!
Bally Midway’s 1987 Xenophobe features a three-way split screen that allows you and two fellow gamers to clear space stations from alien infestations. It’s a blast — how many games let you control a duck with a laser pistol against goo dripping interstellar monsters, anyway?
Even one of the most famous video games of all time is not above paying tribute to the denizens of LV-426. When Space Invaders Pinball was released in 1979, its backglass recast the pixelated aliens and saucers as very Giger-like monsters.
Finally, it would take several articles to break down just how many Alien references are in the Halo series of games, from dialogue and characters to even the storyline. I’ll leave how much of it is the sincerest form of flattery and how much is a complete carbon copy to you, dear reader, but one look at Sgt. Apone from Aliens against Sgt. Johnson from Halo says so much more than simply words.
I’m certain there are plenty more examples out there — watch carefully where you take your digital avatar. Watch out — that egg you find in Super Mario Brothers just may attach itself to Luigi’s face!