Amiga Anarchy: Alien Breed 3D

Back in the 80’s, for the most part, the Amiga stood above pretty much all other computers. Even, as much as I hated to admit it, DOS. However, by the 90’s, new advances in graphics and technology had made DOS a real competitor to the Amiga. With the right hardware, you could have a DOS machine doing anything the Amiga was doing, and more. A-like so:

Wait, you mean murdering every guard in town and stealing their money is a BAD thing?

Wait, you mean murdering every guard in town and stealing their money is a BAD thing?

This is Ultima 4, from 1985.

Sorry, but that "Eeow!" isn't making you look very threatening.

Sorry, but that “Eeow!” isn’t making you look very threatening.

This is Ultima 7, from 1992. I’m sure there are better examples, but you get the picture. DOS went from being pretty much lowest on the totem pole in terms of computing, to the system that all others bowed down to. No, I’m not entirely biased, why? And then there was one game that would solidify DOS’s position forever. The great equalizer. The alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end.

And that game was…

All I can imagine is that guy in the back being all "Doom Guy, slow dooooown! I want to kill some demons tooooo!"

All I can imagine is that guy in the back being all “Doom Guy, slow dooooown! I want to kill some demons tooooo!”

Doom, as I no doubt have to tell you, was very popular. Popular enough that it made any computer before it pale in comparison. Did you ever see anybody playing Doom on the Amiga? Not until Doom 2 finally received a port four years after the fact, and by then, people had moved onto games like Quake 2 and a little thing called Half-Life. Still, people did try to replicate the pure action of Doom on the Amiga, even if it didn’t really work. One of these was a game by Team 17.

Yep, them again. I feel kind of like I’m picking on them, really, but the reason I’m doing this many games from them is because they could basically be considered the Konami of the Amiga scene. Well, Konami if they eventually gave up on any other games because their main series was the only thing making them money anymore.

Oh. Right. So exactly like Konami, then.

Oh. Right. So exactly like Konami, then.

One of Team 17’s biggest series of the time was a thing called Alien Breed. Yes, same name as the reboot they did a while back for Steam and the PS3/360, although the reboot wasn’t quite so… well.

I think the word I'm looking for is 'lawsuit worthy'. No, wait, that's two words.

I think the word I’m looking for is ‘lawsuit worthy’. No, wait, that’s two words.

Basically, Alien Breed was a Gauntlet-esque game where you and a friend of some description wander around and shoot at aliens that Team 17 promises are not Xenomorphs in any way. It was popular enough to get about three or four games in the series before AB3D came along, depending on if you include the budget “Special Edition” of the first game that came out.

Well, time to find out if this game will have Doom quaking in its boots. Ha, I made a funny? Quaking? …Fine, let’s just start the game.

It's a good sign when you play a game where using its best weapon can make the game crash.

It’s a good sign when you play a game where using its best weapon can make the game crash.

Ah, the humble cracktro. When you’re out scouring the internet for Amiga ROMs like this, you’d be hard pressed to find one that DOESN’T have one of these. They all tend to have nice music, the occasional cheat keys, like what you see here, and a mention of a bunch of people we can only assume went on to get real jobs or something. Your work is appreciated, anonymous hackers. But not that much, because your work means I have to play this game.

AB3D04

OK, time to put in the older disc and — hold up, something about this picture looks off. What did it look like before the screen dimmed?

I imagine he's saying something about "staying frosty" or "oorah" or "Fox's lawyers won't stop calling us, sir!"

I imagine he’s saying something about “staying frosty” or “oorah” or “Ridley Scott’s lawyers won’t stop calling us, sir!”

Ahahahahaha, oh, man. I really hope that’s not supposed to be us. I’m less worried about that alien right now and more the fact that Corporal Weirdface over here seems to be mid-stroke. I wouldn’t be too worried about the alien, anyway, since it seems it’s only coming in for a hug.

Incidentally, 'kklkffffnfffff' is the sound I make thinking about this game.

Incidentally, ‘kklkffffnfffff’ is the sound I make thinking about this game.

So, here’s our main menu. It’s… rather spartan, really. No difficulty options, no video options. Oh, yeah, this game uses passwords. See, for all the Amiga’s infinite power, nobody bothered to put a hard drive in it by default, so while the superior PC master race gets to save their game at any point in a level they so desire, you don’t.

Fun fact: 'RAM' stands for 'Right Amiga', and it's the key that sits where the Windows key would sit on a modern keyboard. I bet you're so glad you know that, now.

Fun fact: ‘RAM’ stands for ‘Right Amiga’, and it’s the key that sits where the Windows key would sit on a modern keyboard. I bet you’re so glad you know that, now.

Oh, dear, these keys will never do.

This is the way we do things in MY neighborhood, ya'll.

This is the way we do things in MY neighborhood, ya’ll.

You might notice that the game has already spoiled us on just what weapons we can get, although the game doesn’t mention anything about a ‘mega blaster’. Unless that’s what the plasma gun is also supposed to be. Note that we get a button for ducking, but not one for jumping. This will be important later.

Right, I think we’ve screwed around long enough. Let’s get frosty.

You could take a few lessons from the Doom guy, bud.

You could take a few lessons from the Doom guy, bud.

Before every level, you get this little monolouge from your player character. It’s pretty much the only thing resembling plot in this game, even if it boils down to ‘There are bad aliens here so I have to kill the bad aliens’.

I think I've seen Sega CD games with more screen size on them.

I think I’ve seen Sega CD games with more screen size on them.

Unless there’s some obscure key combination I’m not seeing, this is as big as the screen will get. It’s… acceptable, I guess, especially considering that anything bigger would probably the cause the Amiga to start letting off smoke. I actually am reminded quite a bit of Doom right now… the 32X version, anyway.

So, we’ve got a gun, and a door in the distance. This being a Doom clone, we know what we need to do. The framerate, for now, anyway, is surprisingly smooth. What I’m not liking is that there’s a total lack of music, with the only sound in the distance being the howling of the aliens. Some people are into the ambient stuff, but for me, something’s just missing if I don’t get something like this.

Don't get too close to the aliens, or else you'll... pant softly as you lose a sliver of health. All right, then.

Don’t get too close to the aliens, or else you’ll… pant softly as you lose a sliver of health. All right, then.

Oh, crap, an alien! Nobody told me there’d be aliens in Alien Breed 3D! Save me, gun!

They're not ludicrous, but these gibs will do.

They’re not ludicrous, but these gibs will do.

Wow. That was surprisingly messy. Guess this game’s not going to get sold in Germany.

The gun you start with is more of an assault rifle than anything else, which makes it a pretty huge improvement over the rather wimpy pistol you get in Doom. It’s less of an ammo hog than you’d think, but keep in mind that this game has no melee weapon. Not one. Out of ammo? Sucks to be you, says Team 17.

In the immortal words of Caleb, "I NEED A KEY".

In the immortal words of Caleb, “I NEED A KEY”.

Well, it wouldn’t be a Doom clone without keycards involved, I suppose.

Hey, no fair! The Xenomorphs never got guns!

Hey, no fair! The Xenomorphs never got guns!

Another alien! And this one has a gun! They’re changing all the rules this time! …On another subject, I realize that I’ve been a bit harsh on this game, but I have to admit, they’ve done a good job of trying to do Doom’s level design. It’s not as good as that game, of course, but they’ve had steps for variable height,  ceilings… they could have just stuck some aliens in a Wolfenstien 3D clone and called it a day, but they didn’t.

Huh? Oh, right, the alien.

Huh? Oh, right, the alien.

We continue onward, fighting off a couple of more gun-weilding aliens until we reach…

Hang on a second...

Hang on a second…

I actually lowered the screen size and turned the Detail to Low, just to remind myself what I was supposed to be playing.

I actually lowered the screen size and turned the Detail to Low, just to remind myself what I was supposed to be playing.

OK, fine, they’re not an EXACT match, but… still. Come on, Team 17, couldn’t you have picked one thing to steal from and stuck to it? Oh, yeah, did you know Doom has a mode for PC speaker sound effects? I don’t think I did, and I’ve been playing it since I was 4. You learn something every day, I guess. Oh, right. *sigh* Alien Breed.

So that button opens up a small room leading to a yellow keycard. Cool! Now I’ll just open up the handy automap, and — oh, right. There is no automap. Thankfully, the yellow door is pretty much right out of the room we came from.

So, wait, did the soldiers on this base demand a swimming pool, or?

So, wait, did the soldiers on this base demand a swimming pool, or?

Those three aliens up ahead? They aren’t our real threat. They were NEVER our real enemy. The aliens can be destroyed. They can bleed, and we can kill it. Our true enemy, the insidious mastermind that’s been orchestrating our demise all the way… it’s that three feet pool of water. Let me demonstrate.

This must be how all those 8-bit heroes who can't swim must feel.

This must be how all those 8-bit heroes who can’t swim must feel.

First off, yes, this game has water. And that’s honestly pretty cool, considering Doom didn’t have it at all. True, there’s no swimming physics at all, so water is basically nothing but a filter that makes everything a little more blue and muffled, but it’s still nice they included it. The water above you even ripples and messes with the walls from above the pool, which is a really cool effect.

Here’s the bad news: If you see this, you’re screwed. Remember how I said this game doesn’t have a jump button? Here’s where you pay for it. There are no stairs or steps in this pool to get out. No way to escape. It won’t be the aliens that bring an end to your heroic quest. It’ll be what’s basically the equivalent of a kiddy pool. You can’t even drown. The kiddy blue has you in its watery clutches forever.

Reset! If you hit the Escape key, the game will kick you back to the main menu, no questions asked. So don’t do this if you’re expecting it to pause the game like Doom.

See that enemy up there? Yeah, neither did I.

See that enemy up there? Yeah, neither did I.

So when you go into this room, you have a bunch of those little red aliens. They aren’t why I’ve lost so much health and ammo. That’s because of the five or so gun aliens standing above you plinking away at you. Just one of these guys don’t do that much damage on their own, but when you’ve got that many teaming up on you, this is what tends to happen to your health bar. Also, the small medkits in this room do crap all for healing. Not to mention that it’s really, really hard to see enemies when they’re this far away from you, as you can probably tell.

And what do you get for all this trouble? The red keycard, because two wouldn’t be enough for the first level of the game. Oh, yeah, and another alien that kills me. When you die, unlike Doom, the game kicks you back to the main menu, so if you don’t have a password handy, you’re doing it all again.

Apparently the game DOES expect you to use harsh language, for all the ammo they gave you.

Apparently the game DOES expect you to use harsh language, for all the ammo they gave you.

After giving it another shot, I finally make it to the exit. The trick is to conserve ammo and fire in short, controlled bursts. This works for a game that’s trying as hard as it can to be Aliens, but for a Doom-style game, not so much. Sure, Doom had levels where you didn’t have as MUCH ammo to work with, but it gave you weapons like the chaingun for a reason. That, and you could fall back on your chainsaw if you had to.

And so, we move on to Level 2: Storage Bay. Our password, if you’re curious, is ‘CODKFNFFMHFFFFFF’. Sounds like a Call of Duty fan getting electrocuted.

Alien Breed 3D (1995)(Ocean)(AGA)[cr FLT][t SXI](Disk 2 of 2)(Level)_004

I like how our protagonist basically admits he has no idea what he’s doing. This is a hero for us to all be inspired by.

I think the game is trying to apologize for the last level. It's not really working.

I think the game is trying to apologize for the last level. It’s not really working.

Also, shotgun shells! Do you think there’ll be a shotgun somewhere in this level?

You might not be entirely wrong.

You might not be entirely wrong.

This game skips over the single barrel/practically a sniper rifle shotgun of Doom and goes straight for the double barrel.

"I'm sorry, I've seem to have wandered into a Dungeons & Dragons game by accident. I'll be going now."

“I’m sorry, I’ve seem to have wandered into a Dungeons & Dragons game by accident. I’ll be going now.”

The beholders are basically this game’s equivalent of Cacodemons. Big mouthed floaty thingies that take a decent amount of damage and fire projectiles at you.

Alien Breed 3D (1995)(Ocean)(AGA)[cr FLT][t SXI](Disk 2 of 2)(Level)_006

And here we have ourselves a puzzle! There are six switches around this room. Can you guess which ones will open up the exit?

Give up? The correct answer was “All of them”. Ah, Doom-style puzzle design.

Alien Breed 3D (1995)(Ocean)(AGA)[cr FLT][t SXI](Disk 2 of 2)(Level)_006

Aaaaand no thank you.

Aaaaand no thank you.

There’s a certain .gif for feelings that come up when one encounters a sewer level, especially for a game like this. I believe it went something like this.

3204840swsw

Well, I have to admit, it wasn’t great, but for the hardware it was working with, it was a lot better than I’d imagine. The level design’s quite impressive, in places, and apparently they even manage to figure ways of working ‘room over room’ design into the levels. That’s something that the PC wouldn’t see, at least without some visual trickery, until Quake came along. If the weapons felt better, if the difficulty was more balanced, if there was actual music, then I’d recommend it.

Oh, by the way, there was an Alien Breed 3D 2, released a year later. Going by what Lemon Amiga says, it seems unanimous that the Amiga really, really shouldn’t have tried to take on Quake, because you basically need either an emulator or an Amiga more powerful than God.

Worth the effort? You decide.

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