Thursday, January 7, 2010

So What the Heck is Alien Earth

During some forum browsing, I stumbled upon to someone mentioning a 1998 PC game called Alien Earth and called it the spiritual successor to the SNES Shadowrun. It was developed by the same guys, Beam Software, so it would certainly make sense. Tracking down was a huge bitch though - outside of a Mobygames entry, one short wiki entry and two Youtube videos, the internet at large seems to have disavowed the game. There's no listings on Amazon in any country I could find, the usual abandonware sites turned up nothing and while I discovered a sole copy on eBay earlier today, I ended up losing the auction despite convincing the UK-based seller to ship to the US. Digging a bit deeper in the shadier corners of the internet (not really) I managed to dig up an ISO and give it a go.

It's actually something a bit like Fallout, although it only came out a few months afterward so it was hardly ripping it off. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic Earth, humanity has divided up into tribes, and what's left of the planet has been overrun by jungle and gigantic insects. Taking on the role of a villager named Finn, you're cast out into the wilderness to fend for yourself, since you're apparently a danger to your friends and family. After fashioning a spear out of a bit of scrap metal and a pole, you need to explore the surrounding area, become acquainted with the few humans, beat up huge bugs and fend off attacks from alien warriors.

It's hardly an overlooked classic though - there's a reason why everyone remembers Fallout and no one knows what the hell Alien Earth is. Your character walks SO SLOWLY, and if there's way to speed him up, I sure as hell haven't found it. The role playing aspects seem to boil down to equipping weapons and beating up enemies, which will increase your maximum health bit by bit. The game defaults to awkward keyboard controls for whatever reason, and while the mouse is more suitable, it's still plenty annoying. Right clicking will move and inspect stuff, while left clicking will attack. However, if you right click on your character, the status menu will pop up. You can't interact with stuff unless you're close to it, which causes all kinds of havoc. Combat is just as funky, with non-existent hit detection and strange

I didn't figure out how to get very far, because while I found a fellow who will clean me of poison obtained from the dark junkyard, the random alien guards that pop up will kill me in two hits, and its lasers clearly overshadow my pointy stick. If there's any worth to it, it must be buried deeper beneath the surface.

But how close is it to Shadowrun? Well, it does utilize an isometric viewpoint, and the RPG-lite gameplay is very similar, but that's about it. Don't go looking to it if you're expecting something of the same level, because the impeccable atmosphere - the storyline, the world, the music - from Shadowrun is nowhere to be seen nor heard. At least it has a vaguely odd sense of humor, as related by the several weirdos that you run into. One madman rambles endlessly in a Scottish accent. Pretty funny. You also run apart bits of the old civilization and your character beholds them with reverence. He remarks how he dare not play on the swingset, or remarks about the skeleton of a gigantic beetle, which is really the rusted frame of a car. The "holy temple" of the tribes appears to consist of a group of dilapidated phone booths (or maybe outhouses? It's hard to tell.)

Anyway, I would upload the ISO to spread it around a bit and maybe someone else can find something more worthwhile in it, but Megaupload's not working at the moment. Maybe later! Here's the gameplay video, anyway.


  1. Spiritual successor to snes shadowrun? Man, that would be great.

  2. Ahh, the old "it's-like-Shadowrun" ploy! I've been fooled by that one too.

    I once wasted a big wad of my meagre allowance buying Arena on the Game Gear, because EGM said it was like Shadowrun. Unfortunately not - it's isometric but far too difficult for its own good. And there's no RPG elements to it.

  3. Wow, you actually found it. I've been looking for it for ages. Thats how I stumbled upon this blog. Played it eons ago...

    Upload the .iso please :).

  4. Theres a trick to killing the big alien i remember... played the game halfway then got a bug ages ago when it came out, been looking for it ever since... any chance of an upload?

    thx : )

  5. Hey there, hit the same problem with the bug ages ago, there is a trick to killing the big alien and the game start getting interesting after that : ) My version started giving me problems just as the game started becoming worth playing and has haunted me ever since... anyone found out or posted where tofind this yet? pleeeeeaase? : )

  6. Good to know some people play this forgotten game. I still play that game from time to time :)

    I have even uploaded this game on my Mediafire page, so if anyone is interested to play this game, feel free to download!

  7. I played this when I was young, and as I can recall it was kind of interesting and more of a point and click game with some combat. None really evolved but had its charm in some form, as I always remember this game, thats why I was just searching about it online and found my way here. Maybe I should give it another try 10+ years later. I remember it was really hard, and it took me years to figure out how to get to the end. :P

    Found a full version here

  9. I just discovered this game and am playing through it now, and as a long time fan of Shadowrun SNES, totally enjoying it. The slow movement speed got on my nerves at first, but if you had bothered giving the game more than a few minutes of your time, you might have discovered this game is essentially Shadowrun SNES on steroids.

    The learnable dialogue options are there, the combination of action RPG and use-item-on-thing puzzle solving gameplay is there. It feels like a spiritual successor to Shadowrun SNES more than any game made since, so if you're like me and you went years wishing you could experience MORE Shadowrun, this is the game you never knew you needed in your life.

    Yes the game is hard, and you have to really pull yourself up by your bootstraps in the early game, but when you are able to finally blow that asshole alien to smithereens, it's all the more satisfying.