Is there some rule among game developers that all creepy space aliens have to look like vaginas with teeth? If so, what makes you think you can throw a half-dozen of them into a pinball game and have the best possible WiiWare title ever? Alien Crush Returns hit WiiWare Monday; I found this out after attending Hudson’s preview event, where I went to preview the game. I also found this out right as the game crashed and had to be reloaded – a process which took something like six minutes. So forgive me for previewing this game instead of reviewing it, but I’ve got to have faith that somehow the retail release of Alien Crush Returns on Monday was way better than what I saw last night.In addition to long loads and crashing, the game looks dull. How can space aliens be boring? I suppose having only a narrow palette of colors (pea soup green, infected pink, ominous black, and tooth enamel white) will do it – along with repetitive alien designs. You’re playing pinball inside some creature’s organs, so I suppose everything can’t look too different. If pressed, could you really tell the difference between a human kidney a gallbladder, unless you’d gone to medical school? I didn’t think so.
The point of the game as I understand it is a story mode, where you’re “battling” these aliens by playing pinball in their organic mothership. Boss fights involve bouncing off of tentacle things that look like cancer until they explode in monotonous green goo and you progress to the next area. Gameplay is spiced up with power-ups that can do cool things like charge up your shot or save your ball from falling between the flippers. Ultimately, the mechanics were solid, even if the motion controls were nothing to write home about (you tilt the Nunchuck to perform a bump – a move I don’t normally use in real pinball because it leads to bruised hips and feels like cheating). Most of what you’re doing is waiting for the ball to get done bouncing off of alien innards to get near a flipper so you can press A and send it flying back into the disgusting mush.
There was one bonus level that appeared to be contained within a stomach where little facehugger-looking things kept respawning between the ball and the flippers. Bumping into them twice caused them to explode acid green puss, which didn’t seem to have any other purpose besides looking gross. After getting the ball out of there, the ball wound up back in some chest cavity that contained no less than five toothed-vagina orifices for the ball to go in and out of in the name of racking up points. I’m not in love with this game. But does it really matter what I say? It already came out Monday. 800 points is pretty cheap for a gross-out; but I’d still rather save up for Dead Space, if I want to see me some aliens.