Saturday 9 June 2012

Alien 8 - Sinclair Spectrum - 1985

Alien 8 was released by Ultimate Play The Game in 1985 and employs the same Filmation technique that was used in Knight LoreIt was, unfairly in my view, criticised on its release as just being Knight Lore set in space.  Back in the day I completed this game prior to playing Knight Lore, and the Sabreman game felt like a big step backwards.  I still hold the same opinion after playing them in chronological order this time round.

The game is set aboard an interstellar starship on which the crew have been cryogenically frozen.  As the ship nears it’s destination it is boarded by aliens who have removed the circuit boards from the cryogenic life support system that keep the crew alive.  You control the titular robot who has to recover the circuit boards and return them to their proper places before the destination is reached.

The game is played against the clock and you have to search the rooms for the circuit boards which are shaped as pyramids, cubes, domes and cylinders.  These must be placed in the corresponding flashing sockets in the cryogenic chambers. The game contains the usual platform type puzzles requiring lateral thinking and/or quick reflexes. The puzzles are generally more complex and varied than that those in Knight Lore as other features have been added such as remote controlled drones and piles of blocks that have to be carefully manoeuvred around.  The ghosts and guards from Knight Lore have respectively been replaced by clockwork mice and a dalek/mouse cross; the sparkly enemies remain the same.

As Alien 8 uses the same game engine as Knight Lore it feels, sounds and plays the same.  The graphics have been updated to give a suitable spaceship look and are a lot more varied than Knight Lore.  The extra objects in this game add to the variety of puzzles, both in the lateral thinking and the more dexterous ones. Where Alien 8 really differs is in the main quest.  Whereas Knight Lore is totally linear, in this game the tasks can be completed in any order you choose. The circuits and cryogenic suspension chambers are scattered all over the ship – there is no central repository you have to take objects to and no particular order in which to complete the rooms.  Another positive change is that there are no objects which randomly drop on you in certain rooms – they are there but are triggered (usually by picking up one of the circuits) so can be avoided.  Finally, the annoying and awkward shape changing mechanic has been removed from this title.  Overall it is a marked improvement over Knight Lore and more of a step forward than it was given credit for on its release.

The sparkly enemy can be 'guided' and is needed to reach the pyramid circuit.


  1. Head over Heels was another commodore 64 game with a similar isometric playing style. The guys at retrospec did a pretty good remake of this one.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I play Head over Heels for the blog but didn't really like it as much as the Ultimate games.