Alien Vs Predator Captures the Feeling of Being a Deadly Galactic Hunter
The Predator made for an incredible antagonist in the movie with the same name. An alien hunter that could turn invisible does make for a challenging opponent. Especially so when you factor in the array of tools it’s used over the course of its various movie appearances. Alien Vs Predator, a beat ‘em up on the SNES (although there are other versions) tries to capture the feel of being a lethal Predator armed with all sorts of weapons drawn from the movies. Punching aliens while becoming invisible and firing a shoulder laser? I am all in.
The human colonists on New Shanghai, on the star Vega, did a bit of digging around. Found some weird eggs. Got super excited about it for a bit before they started hatching. The Facehuggers that burst free put a real damper on that upbeat mood. Aliens quickly spread across the star, so the survivors sent a distress call to Earth. The Predators who intercepted the call didn’t really care if they saved ANY of the humans, though. Hunting aliens just seemed like great sport. And now you get to be a part of the fun.
Alien Vs Predator takes you through six areas filled with a variety of Alien monstrosities. Smaller drone enemies will try to bite you or spit acid at you. Warrior Aliens are larger and more durable. Eggs will send out Facehuggers and Chestbursters which fling themselves around and can be a pain to take down. With their mixtures of speed, range, and durability, these various foes all aim to make your life difficult.
As a beat ‘em up, you can swing your fists around to deal with your enemies. However, as a Predator, you have far more than just your knuckles. You’ve got some handy wristblades to put the hurt on Aliens, for starters. You’ve also got access to jumping kicks, a spin kick that strikes all around you, and you can grab onto Aliens if they get too close. Then, you can throw or elbow them as you like. Better than all of those is the slide kick, which sends you flying across large portions of the screen and often takes your enemies right off their feet. Super handy if you’re getting surrounded.
That kind of stuff is pretty common to the genre, though. What makes this game special is that you have an array of Predator tools to make things more interesting in Alien Vs Predator. You COULD punch everyone, but you also have your laser (or shoulder cannon). This can charge to three different levels, offering you a single beam, a charged stronger shot, and a screen-clearing blast from your mothership. The last one takes a longer charge and also harms you, but the ability to kill three or four foes at once has to feel pretty good for our Predator protagonist.
The game also gives you some weapons you can pick up. You can find throwing discs lying around that will cleave through enemies. Spears can pop up periodically as well, inspired by the Combistick from Predator 2. While those are great, the invisibility pickup will let you move between foes without being seen. Stalking your enemies when they can’t see you is a huge part of being the Predator, and being able to do it here really brought out that feeling of inhabiting this powerful creature.
Now, using those weapons to cut down passive, weak foes wouldn’t be fitting for a Predator. They’re a race of hunters looking for a challenge, right? Well, Alien Vs Predator aims to provide it with their enemies. As I said, there’s a limited amount of them, but their size and sickening appearance loan the game a sense of danger. I’ve played many beat ‘em ups where I was just punching guys in alleys. Exciting stuff, but not exactly scary. Fighting acid-spitting aliens or things that will implant eggs in my face? A much more unsettling fate (although the egg part doesn’t come up in-game).
And, while these things will kill you in horrible ways, you’re often just walking right up to them and punching them in the mouth. As powerful as your enemies are, you’re still willing to exchange punches with them. Many of the most basic enemies hit the ground so hard the screen shakes from their impact. This really lets you feel their weight as they fight. There’s also dozens of these monsters and only a few of you (the manual states that “If you are vanquished in battle, another shall replace you.”). The game works hard to give you this sense of presence, size, and monstrous power. In turn, that makes you feel a little nervous in dealing with the creatures.
It also makes you feel all the stronger every time you beat one. Beating something larger, stronger, and faster than you feels incredible in Alien Vs Predator. Doing so while being able to use an array of tools feels even better. You can switch from invisibly skulking around and sucker punching things to throwing discs and stabbing with spears. If an alien is bearing down on you, a quick blast from your shoulder laser should knock them aside. And if the aliens think they can overpower you with numbers, you can scorch the whole place and see who’s still left standing afterwards.
The only thing that’s missing is the self-destruct device to fully capture the Predator experience. It’s something I’d hoped would be present when you lose a life or get a Game Over, but unfortunately it just wasn’t in there. It’s a sad omission, but one that doesn’t take away from the fun package of the rest of the game.
Alien Vs Predator really captures the feeling of being that powerful invisible hunter. By pitting you against aliens of great weight, size, and ability, you feel that sense of satisfaction when you take something down. More importantly, it gives you a bunch of the varied tools the Predators have, letting you use wrist blades, shoulder cannons, and invisibility to stalk and defeat your prey. It’s am impressive beat ‘em up that mixes a feeling of horror and exhilaration, and did an impressive job of letting you feel like a Predator for a while.