The light gun kick continues with Area 51, for other light gun games check the list here.
Released originally in arcades in 1995 I loved Area 51. I could never get very far, as I was shit but I would still pour coins into it hoping to get past the 3rd level.
So, am I still shit? do I still like the game? is it a good game?
Answers on a post card…
I am not totally clear on the how/why, but Aliens have taken/taking over Area 51. You take on the role of a member of
S.T.A.R.S S.T.A.A.R (Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response) and are sent to eliminate the Alien threat (The Kronn).
Area 51 is on-rails, so you point your gun at the screen, and go “pew pew pew”, there are no branching pathways, limited amounts of bosses, and it is pretty fucking hard even on easier settings.
At the start of the game you can choose to start from the beginning, or warp ahead. The warp ahead takes you to what I consider to be level 2, but could be level 4/5.
Levels are not obvious, you do get a stat screen every 3 minutes or so of game play, but these feel like a checkpoint, rather than a full level. This isn’t a bad thing, it means the game flows, and the continuity doesn’t break.
You also start from the position you were in on the previous level, and if an enemy was still alive, they will still be on screen. In all honesty, I like it.
I just completed Area 51 in 20 minutes, I don’t think you can complete it much quicker. A number of sections, usually ones with purple guys, have you stuck on screen until an invisible timer ticks off, basically if you kill them quick enough, the game will hang there until it wants you to move. Likewise, when you take too long, and there are still enemies on screen, you’ll just walk off, and leave them where they stood.
Area 51 actually looks pretty good, the graphics are digitised, and look much better than the ones used in Mortal Kombat. Due to this, the game still looks relatively good. Close up the enemies are a pixelly, but on the whole they are fairly well defined.
The backgrounds are pre rendered 3d images, so graphically Area 51 holds up much better than Time Crisis.
These are the single most useless special forces group, they do noting, except run in front of you, and try to get themselves shot. Basically, they serve as the traditional civilian role in on-rail shooters, shoot one, you lose a life. Nemesis would have no issues taking these guys out, they run in the way constantly!
There is one boss, and the first time you may not notice…
You come to an area where you fight a constant wave of Kronn, and you focus on these. Then, a UFO appears, and you can shoot at it, but you focus on the Kronn as they attack you, the UFO doesn’t. After about 30 seconds, the ship flies off. Here, you either win the game (the UFO blows up), or you lose (ship flies off). It isn’t immediately obvious what to do here, and it isn’t clear until 15 seconds after the cut scene whether you have won or not.
The game is ludicrously short, it is fun, and it looks good, but it is short… In fact this review may be longer than the game.
This port was 2 years after the original arcade release, so I am a little disappointed there was no bonus/extra features.
Pros: Still looks good, still fun
Cons: Short, final boss is an anti-climax