Review: Somebody get Uwe Boll on the phone for the movie rights. Wait, no...
Everyone loves an underdog (except Yankee fans). Its why ICO and Katamari Damacy have jumped from Japanese oddities to bona-fide classics that we'll be talking about for years to come. And it certainly applies in the case of Alien Hominid, a game programmed by a dozen or so people and initally released as a Flash demo on the Internet that was downloaded 7,011,699 times from newgrounds.com.
So what exactly is Alien Hominid? Well, it's your basic side scrolling shooter with humans taking on an alien menace spread out over 16 levels. Except this time you are the alien menace. You are a Hominid, and your spaceship has crash landed on Earth. The (Truth is Out There) FBI collects your ship and study even though all you want to do is make like ET and go home. So naturally our Hominid pulls out his blaster and a pointy sword to take on the whole FBI, Communist Russia and the weirdos at Area 51. Bring. It. On.
While the gameplay of Alien Hominid is traditional, the look of the game is beyond unique. Everything (and I do mean everything) has been hand drawn. The Hominid, the FBI, the backgrounds, the buildings, the Fat Kids that give you powerups, all of it. Alien Hominid is a living, breathing cartoon world. The graphics will not knockout anyone weaned on Metal Gear Solid, Halo and Resident Evil 4, but the life that this cartoon world creates is incredible. It is a Saturday morning cartoon in every sense of the word. To go along with that, the world of Alien Hominid is populated with sounds and music ripped straight from your childhood cartoons. Exaggerated screams, the whiz of a laser gun, the constant pop pop pop of an explosion that is just at home in this game as it would be for Wile E. Coyote.
The music further complements the insanity with rising guitar riffs that I swear were first heard alongside Optimus Prime, G.I. Joe and the (original) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Going beyond that, the between level music is so ridiculously absurd that you just can't help but bob your head. It's circus music, and seeing your little Hominid holding up his little arms in victory is the icing.
All this style is enough to drive some people insane, but thankfully, Alien Hominid backs it up with a solid side scrolling shooter of old. The FBI/Commies/Area 51 goons never stop coming. And just when you think it's safe, a boss or a mini-boss enters your field of vision. Thankfully again, our Hominid has the firepower to take 'em down. In addition to his blaster, the Hominid has a sword for up close slicing and dicing and grenades for ranged attacks. He can also burrow under the ground and pull members of the FBI/Communist Party/Majestic 12 underground, never to be heard from again. Death from above is also an option as he can jump on the back of a would be assailant and bite his head off as well (with the appropriate screams and blood). Finally, Fat Kids provide the Hominid with many different weapons including (but not limited to) a Spread Gun, a Disintegrator Ray, a Freeze Ray, and a Flamethrower.
In spite of it's cartoony look, with all of this weaponry, Alien Hominid is very violent. Hilariously violent even. If you've ever laughed at Itchy and Scratchy, Alien Hominid will have you rolling. In addition to the head biting and sword slashing, there are tons of death animations (still all hand drawn) for each human you take out. One level even gives you the chance to take out the trash to the wood chipper. I think Best of all is a level in Russia where your Hominid rides an indestructible Yeti and dispatches the Russian agents by eating them. It's over-the-top gory and I love it. And for parents that want to share this gem with their children, the gore can be shut off.
When you're tired of taking out FBI agents and Red Russian Operatives, the games multi-boss levels fill in the rest. Each level has at least two bosses and they get bigger and more impressive the further you get into the game. Robotic monsters that would make Dr. Wily very jealous. Still all hand drawn and still beautiful. The best one is even featured on the box. A giant robotic zeppelin with a sickle and hammer floating over Russia trying to crush the Hominid. Amazing. And here I thought Rocky had taken care of all that at the end of Rocky IV.
Every masterpiece has it's rough spots and Alien Hominid is no different. The control feels a little stiff sometimes as your Homind can only fire in fire directions. Diagonal fire is not allowed and it just feels off. The game's ability to reload every level with a fresh compliment of continues also bothers me just a little. Maybe The Behemoth did it to make sure everyone saw the whole game, because it is beautiful and would otherwise be impossible without a level select. But as an old school gamer, it still nibbles at the back of my head. Finally, the two spaceship levels are terrible. The control is bad, the radar is useless and they're not really any fun. Removing them would have made Alien Hominid seem even more perfect.