While so many believed, or probably more accurately wanted to believe, full-motion video games were the future (the choppy, grainy, cheesy future), there were others that hadn't given up on the traditional side-scrolling action experience. Prince of Persia showed us all that you could achieve more in a side-scroller than simply jumping on an enemy and touching a flagpole, and the cinematic scope and scale increased exponentially with the arrival of Out of This World. Heart of the Alien continues the fine legacy of its predecessor by re-telling the story from the perspective of the large, hulking alien companion. Think of it as One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest for the Sega CD!
If you aren't familiar with the story in question, Out of This World centered on Lester, a scientist who accidentally transports himself to an alien world and is taken prisoner (we've all been there, am I right!?). When Lester awakens in a cage, he meets another prisoner, a large, mostly silent alien. In Heart of the Alien the story is told from the alien's perspective, explaining how he came to find himself in the cage with Lester, and what happens to him when the two weren't together in the first game. To fully appreciate Heart of the Alien I feel it is necessary to have played Out of this World. The intricate plotlines intertwine with fantastic results, making it feel much more than a re-hash or add-on.
Graphically speaking, these games were incredible in 1994, and they still posses a unique style seen all too rarely in this genre. The overall presentation helps to establish the control scheme as well; when the character animations are as smooth and life-like as they are, it makes sense that the controls should be so very precise. You will have to negotiate jumps, rolls, climb up and down ledges, and attack enemies to name but a few actions. In Out of This World the weapon of choice was the standard Sci-Fi laser gun. In Heart of the Alien the main character uses a whip, which can be used to attack as well as swing from ledges. So, think of it as One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest meets Indiana Jones. How could possibly resist that!?
This is an experience like no other. The difficulty is very high, but the sense of accomplishment once you overcome an intense scene is well worth it. Again, to understand the story from both angles I must recommend playing both titles. If you have a Sega CD, though, this package contains both games, so there you go.