Aliens Go Home Run is a great 2D arcade blast from the past. It’s as if Breakout met Space Invaders and they had a child that they took to baseball every weekend. From the gorgeous artwork to the cheap price, this game is definitely one to pick up if you are into that ‘old-skool’ aesthetic.
Aliens Go Home Run gives you one very simple aim: destroy all the blocks in a level. You play a young Little League player who uses her bat to smash a baseball above in order to break the blocks and move on to the next stage. Unlike Breakout and similar titles, you can let the ball touch the floor without failing, but you will have to avoid laser fire from enemies above.
At first, this isn’t too much of a challenge; it’s largely a case of blasting the baseball into the air and hoping for the best rather than having any kind of strategy. But as the game progresses, the insanity of the enemies makes you rely more on your reflexes and the brilliant slide mechanic that not only get you out of a tight spot but also knocks the ball up the air, allowing you to place the perfect swing.
Sliding isn’t the only feature in your arsenal that you can use to take down these aliens and blocks: you get power-ups! Aliens Go Home Run manages distribution of power ups in a clever way; to get more powerful upgrades, you must simply collect more power-ups. In other words, the more alien fire you dodge, the more powerful you can become. This forces you into making the choice of whether you want to play conservatively or more erratically.
Then comes the boss battles. Like many games, Aliens Go Home Run‘s boss fights seem very staple in design – one boss was surrounded by minions who you must destroy first, for example – but they work very well regardless. Their structure is great fun to battle against and their design is engaging and well-polished. Unlike the meat of the game where your focus is destroying blocks, the boss fights take your focus to simply smashing the brains of the enemy. It’s a very welcome change, mixing up the pace of the game perfectly; I thoroughly enjoyed battling against every one.
Aliens Go Home Run‘s brilliantly orchestrated mayhem is accompanied by some truly great visuals. Despite being pixel art – like Marmite; you either love it or hate it – I’d argue it’s very well done and it’d be hard for anyone not to see its charm. Both the backdrops and the sprite of your character are especially stunning. Everything is clearly defined and wreaks of early arcade beauty. One minor niggle, however, is that sometimes the visuals of the stage mix with the menu when you pause, making it difficult to see the text, but it’s hardly a deal breaker.
The game’s soundtrack is absolutely rocking. The tune that plays throughout the game really builds up the tension and keeps you buzzing for more. I am slightly disappointed that is seems just to be the one track that repeats, but it is a hell of a track so it is forgivable. The best feature of Aliens Go Home Run is certainly the sound effects that play when you lose a life or gain a power-up. They perfectly capture the era of gaming they’re trying to ape; somehow making me nostalgic for a time before I was even born.
My main complaint with Aliens Go Home Run is the mode which allows you to design your own levels. Whilst it’s a nice idea that could definitely extend the lifespan of the game, I found it to be rather buggy and it often failed to let me place any items down. Still, it’s an accessory to the main game more than anything, so as an added extra it doesn’t take anything away from the overall experience – it’s just a shame it didn’t work as well as it should have.
With only a couple of minor niggles worth mentioning, Aliens Go Home Run is a fantastic experience that invigorates a genre of games I thought was long since dead and buried. The slick, fun gameplay coupled with the brilliantly nostalgic visuals and sound effects is immensely enjoyable – and especially considering its ridiculously cheap asking price of $3.99/£2.79, I can’t recommend it enough. No matter what type of gamer you are, you’re bound to get a kick out of the beautiful simplicity of Aliens Go Home Run.