Despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of movies about alien invasions, somehow it always seems like the Alien series (Alien, Aliens, etc.) is the only one getting ripped off. You just don't see many games playing homage to The Day the Earth Stood Still or Enemy Mine. Alien Crush is certainly no exception, from the moment you start the game to the time you put your control down, the only thing you can think of is how much the developers liked the alien creatures originally created by H.R. Giger.
Not that this is a bad thing, if anything the Alien series has lent itself well to a lot of different types of games. Usually we see the Alien influence in shooters, action games and adventure titles, but Alien Crush is something completely different. It takes the homage in a whole other direction, instead of being a first-person shooter it ends up being a pinball game. That's right; Alien Crush is all about offering a great playing game of pinball ... something you wouldn't normally think about when you consider the source material.
Alien Crush is set on one large table, which comes complete with space creatures to hit, eggs to break and other gooey items to around to ultimately gain points. Seeing as this is a pinball game you'll find that a lot of the game plays like any other title in the genre, you have a couple of flippers and the object is to keep the ball in play as long as you can so that you can best your high score.
While the pinball aspect isn't much different from any other pinball game, it's what you do that makes this game really stand out. In the past a lot of pinball games have been written off completely because they are trying to recreate a non-digital experience. The brilliance of a pinball game is that you don't need it to be a video game; you shouldn't need a fancy game system to house it. But Alien Crush takes the genre and attempts to do something with it that you couldn't do on a standard pinball table. It's been nearly twenty years since this game was released and to this day Alien Crush holds up because it's not trying to recreate something you've played before; it's trying to elevate the genre to a whole new level.
While the game only offers one table to play on, there are a few different options you can choose to change up the experience. Before you start you can select from either a slow or fast game, one that is great for those who are looking for high scores and another that does a great job of recreating the traditional pinball experience. You will also be able to choose what music you want to listen to, either Demon's Undulate or Lunar Eclipse. While the music doesn't drastically change anything, it's nice to be able to choose what speed you are looking for.
The real star of this game is the board itself. It's just a whole lot of fun to bang the ball around the board and burst alien eggs, battle the little heads that pop up and play the various mini-games found on the table. It's not the deepest video game experience you could have, but there's something undeniably fun about playing a game of pinball that is this over-the-top. While it would have been nice to see another table or two added to the game, it's hard to be too disappointed in a pinball game that offers so much to do and see. You've never played a pinball game like this before, and that's half the fun of Alien Crush.
It's rare to see pinball games done right on a game system, which may be why it's so impressive that this game managed to be so good nearly twenty years ago. To date the only pinball game to outdo Alien Crush is its amazing sequel, Devil's Crush. As far as I can tell the only real problem with this early TurboGrafx-16 game is that it doesn't allow you to save your high scores, which may have more to do with the age of the title than anything. But if you can get over that minor problem you will find an amazing game of pinball that holds up remarkably well today. It may not have amazing 3D graphics or sound, but that was never the appeal of pinball in the first place and it's certainly not going to ruin what is otherwise a stunning accomplishment.