This week Ridley Scott is bringing a fake Alien movie to theater screens all over the world. That's important for a number of reasons; starting with the fact that Ridley Scott is the man responsible for the real Alien movie. For the past year Scott and his team have been sketchy about whether this is or isn't a true Alien prequel. What we're left with fake Alien movie that attempts to remind us how good that first film was.
Exhibit A: Alien!
The celebrate the launch of Prometheus, we thought it would be fun to look at other fake Alien games that used real Alien imagery. It turns out that a lot of games have "borrowed" the H.R. Giger's alien design. Some are more blatant than others, but all are guilty of being influenced by one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time.
Before we start comparing the works of Irem, Konami and SunSoft, let's first address what an Alien looks like. As you can tell from the image to the left, Giger's alien has a long head, extremely sharp teeth, a small torso, armored chest and a deadly tail. He bleeds acid, can walk on the ceiling and is arguably the baddest dude on the block. Keep this image in mind as we look at seven of the most egregious offenders.
Not long after Space Invaders became an arcade smash hit, Bally announced their own pinball game of the same name. Space Invaders featured out-of-this-world obstacles and score multipliers, making it a favorite amongst pinball fans. These days it's remembered for its blatant ripping off of Ridley Scott's Alien, released the same year. Here you have the Alien's long tail, armored body, sharp teeth, skinny torso and long forehead. There is no question about it, this is the monster that single-handedly destroyed the crew of the Nostromo.
Nearly a decade after Space Invaders, another popular 2D shooter decided to use Alien imagery. This is the original Japanese advertisement for R-Type, Irem's long-running shoot-em-up. Front and center is an alien creature that looks nearly identical to the endoparasitoid extraterrestrial species we've come to know and love from the movies. He has the sharp teeth, long tail and a forehead that goes for miles.
Unlike Space Invaders, this imagery goes beyond a one-sheet ad. One of R-Type's most famous bosses looks an awful lot like the xenomorph from the films. It's not as identical as this commercial makes it out, but there's no denying that the developers of R-Type were influenced by the Alien franchise.
Contra [ Company: Konami | System: NES | Genre: Action | Release: 1988 ]
Aliens, the big-budget follow-up to Alien, was released in 1986. By 1987 the whole world had seen it and been influenced by James Cameron's amazing filmmaking. I guess that's why 1988 brought us several of the most flagrant Alien rip-offs on the list, including Konami's Contra for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Much like R-Type, Alien-like characters show up throughout the two-player game. The xenomorph also shows up on the front cover, right next to a guy that looks an awful lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unlike other games, we only see part of the Alien lookalike in the actual game, but many of the locations look like they came straight out of the two Alien films. It's worth noting that Alien imagery shows up in Contra sequels, including Contra III: The Alien Wars.
Alien Syndrome [ Company: Sega | System: Master System | Genre: Action | Release: 1988 ]
Say what you will about Sega's 8-bit games, but one thing is clear: Sega spent almost no time on their Master System covers. Most of the artwork was poorly drawn and dwarfed by the grid in the background. This Alien Syndrome box goes a long way to prove my point. Not only is the artwork bland, but they didn't even bother to come up with an original alien. Instead they stole one of the most recognizable monsters in movie history and hoped nobody would notice.
Looking back at it now, I wonder how this cover didn't land Sega in legal hot waters back in the 1980s. The title is suspiciously close and they even used the an alien that looks nearly identical to H.R. Giger's beast. Same teeth, forehead and claws. Sega was playing with fire by releasing Alien Syndrome.
After the blatant copyright violations of Alien Syndrome and Space Invaders, Xenophobe almost seems quaint in comparison. But don't be fooled, because this 8-bit SunSoft game is yet another game influenced by H.R. Giger's monster in the Alien quadrilogy. In fact, this Alien rip-off goes one step further and bursts through page, an allusion to one of the most famous scenes from the 1979 movie.
The alien of the Xenophobe cover is large and not messing around. He has bright red eyes (not unlike the Space Invaders illustration), sharp teeth and that long head. Also, he appears to have some sort of protective armor. We can't see the rest of his body, but that's not going to stop me from picturing a long tail and small torso.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time [ Company: Konami | System: Super NES | Genre: Brawler | Release: 1992 ]
In the 1990s, Konami decided to parody the Alien movies in some of their wackier video games. Here is an example of H.R. Giger's creature trying to get the best of a mutant turtle in Turtles in Time on the Super NES. Apparently the aliens have landed on Earth and are living in our sewers. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Either way, this is unmistakably the alien from the movie. The large forehead, tail and sharp teeth are a dead giveaway. Then again, this is a parody and not a rip-off. Of course Raphael would fight the acid-bleeding beast, nothing is going to stop him from that pizza!
By 1994, just about every major game company had made some kind of Aliens reference. Perhaps that's why Factor 5 (makers of Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II) felt it was okay to feature Giger's beast as one of Mega Turrican's final bosses. On the other hand, the Turrican series has always been fond of H.R. Giger's work. If we look close enough we can see imagery that connects this 2D action series with Ridley Scott's Prometheus. If that's enough of a reason for you to check out this excellent shooter series, then my job has been done.