Introduce the “X-Files” theme song on this entry.
So, remember when I said that Vampires was going to be a long entry, well bring up your popcorn and go to the bathroom now because this is a longer one. Without wasting more precious time let’s begin with today’s topic, Aliens.
And yes, I’m going to use movie posters
You know, this is kind of funny because this is a term that can not only be used to describe beings from another planet but also people from another country. The whole idea of an alien invasion can be used not only to entertain people but also as war propaganda.
One of the best examples of this was the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. This is a film that is more about a subtle invasion that occurs right under your nose that you don’t even realize until it’s too late rather than using the flashy flying metal saucers that shoots shiny lights of death at people. Here we have people who are replaced by soulless alien duplicates one by one, which can relate to the era in which this movie was released when the paranoia of the anti-communism was at its highest point.
Thankfully those days are over and now Communism is just something that can be spoken of without fear of being taking hostage by the FBI. So that means we can focus on actual aliens, creatures whose origins are from another world or dimension and seems to be very interested in ours. This premise of a space invasion in video games can be traced to the early beginnings of video games, back in the 70’s…and of course I’m talking about…
This classic from 1978 was as simple as games of that era used to be, you have to kill all aliens before they land. You control a laser cannon that shoots in a straight line the game gives you some barriers that cover you from the enemy fire. Once you beat all the aliens on the screen you are taken to the next level, which is pretty much the same but a little bit harder. This repeats until you die.
Fair and simple, no power ups, no bosses, no deep story with bad plot twist that even M. Night Shyamalan would call forced; just get the maximum score which will be deleted as soon as you turn off the console or arcade machine. But at least they introduced the concept of invaders from space in video games.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Sadly, I can’t talk about how Aliens made video games great without mentioning the time that they almost ruined the market. Yep, I’m talking about the crash of 1983 and the game known as E.T the Extraterrestrial, or how I like to call it “the first nail of ATARI’s coffin”.
It’s as disappointing as it looks
I played this game, it wasn’t nice, it wasn’t fun and I think that a part of me died while I was playing. This is a game in which you are the alien instead of being the one who kills the aliens (if that was the case I think that this game would had been like much better).
With that, let’s get into why aliens are such a classic enemy. To start off, the appearance of aliens:
Where’s Waldo Hardcore Edition
Something that I love about these guys is that unlike other monsters in the bestiarium, the term Alien is very vague, there could be millions of life forms in the galaxy and we really don’t have an idea of how one of them actually looks, and if it fits with our kind of fetish, because we don’t have probes of life in other planets, or at least not one that the government want to tell us about, which means that as there aren’t really parameters for their designs, so we can be very creative and make aliens with really bizarre or silly design, which is why I decided to separate them into these classes.
1-Humoids (A.K.A Grey People)
Here we have aliens whose design can go from regular human appearance like our friend Superman to the classic small and maybe genderless creature (that despite being so intelligent hasn’t figure out yet how to use pants) with big black eyes, grey or green skin (if it’s on Saints Patrick day) and a head that seems to be way bigger for the rest of its body.
This game was a new level of weirdness for me. (Zombie Nation on NES)
Honestly this is probably not the most elaborate design of all but it does its work well. The classic variation is probably the less used mostly because it’s hard to make something so small and fragile a genuine treat. Nonetheless this creature appears in games such as Area 51, in the UFO endings of the Silent Hill series, Zombie Nation, Zombies Ate My Neighbors (where we have the green variety) and of course the popular Destroy all humans. Other variations can be seen in Mass Effect, the Alien vs Predator games (because I really don’t know how to classify a predator) and others.
Damn Dirty Ape
So, what happened if the evolution in other planets were similar to ours but with a little change. Let’s say that instead of monkeys turning into humans we have several other kind of animals with slightly human features. Examples being a bird-like alien like Falco from Star Fox or even the Snakes from Xcom. The possibilities are literally endless.
Swiggity swooty we are coming for that booty
These creatures are the ones that you pretty much see a lot on your Saturday morning cartoon like Bucky O’Hare or the Thundercats, but also in comic such as Guardian of the Galaxy or Howard the Duck (Hands down the best super hero in Marvel). In video games, Star Fox has probably the best example of alien afFurries, followed by Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, the pig police from Duke Nukem 3D and many, many others.
Despite the fact that we are reaching Japanese levels of weirdness this is actually very common; creatures with tentacles similar to octopuses or squids in video games can be traced back to Space Invaders. That’s right, the pixelated creatures were actually based on squids and crabs despite the fact that they are hard to distinguish. But back then we had a lot of imagination.
To be fair, I blew up his tentacles just some moments ago
These monsters are usually strong but also smart, being able to control several tentacles to crush your bones and tear your body apart or just use their vast knowledge to take over the world. Examples are the purple tentacle from Day of the Tentacle, several creatures from Earthbound, and the Mars people from Metal Slug just to name a few.
If Earthling parasites are already dangerous, I can’t imagine how destructive one from another planet can be. Ticks that feeds off your blood or amoebas that can eat your brain in matter of days are just some real world examples. I think that if I dig a little bit more on this subject I would be scared for my life…again. So if a video game or just about any other medium introduces a parasite that is from beyond this world you can bet your ass that it will not end well at all. For me one of the best examples is the facehugger from Alien, a creature similar to a scorpion that grabs your face and inserts its eggs in your aorta where it gives life to a hybrid killer machine that explodes from your chest and kills you in the bloodiest way possible!
In video games parasites can be very dangerous, first we have creatures that feeds from your life until you are nothing more than a dry dead body like Metroids that ironically were created to fight another parasite. For the other side we have creatures that in the most John Carpenter way possible combines with our bodies and turn us into hellish abominations like it happens with Necromoph from Dead Space, the Flood from Halo, the chimeras from the Resistance series, and the X parasite (I know, very original) from Metroid Fusion. The last one but not as popular are the parasites that use our bodies as cocoon as we seen with the Chryssalid from Xcom. The list could be longer but I think that we have enough nightmares for one week.
What’s weirder that an alien life form? What about an alien non-life form? Believe or not the idea of an invasion by robots dates from the early years of science-fiction in magazines and movies, but in cartoons the most popular alien robots were without a doubt the Transformers. These were robots with the ability to transform into vehicles like a truck, a jet, a gun, and a microcassette recorder (for some reason) powered by a physical entity know as spark that acts like its soul. It wasn’t too much of an invasion considering that the evil Decepticons were more concerned about killing the benevolent Autobots so we ended up as the suckers in the middle of a war beyond our comprehension.
In video games robots are pretty much everywhere, most of the time created by a crazy human scientist rather than an advanced alien race but that doesn’t mean that they can’t unleash an army of killer machines just for you. These can be seen in games like Alien Soldier, Xcom, and Bomberman. The Reapers from the Mass Effect series also are included as a race of synthetic organic spaceships that will destroy pretty much any living creature on their way.
6- Creatures on Steroids
Sometimes creatures from outter space can look like humans, in other cases they can just look like a giant lizard that came out straight from a Godzilla movie. We are talking about giant crab monsters, giant wolves and especially giant insect monsters that will try to kill us.
And also a frog because I think that it’s cute
These are probably the simpler kind of enemies in a video game, I mean, just pick something from your local zoo, inject it with some steroids, probably add some limbs and try to make a cool name for it that doesn’t sound too silly. This might sound dumb but remember, this is something used a lot in games like Pokemon where we have Staryou, Starmie, Clefairy, Jirachi, Deoxys among others that are implied that came from space, Earthworm Jim where we have creatures like Evil the Cat (whose planet is basically hell) and Bob the Killer fish (emphasis on killer), the Earth Defense Force series where we have giant insects that spit acid, among others.
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space and I’m bad
So, plants are living things right? They produce oxygen, shade, and fruit. It won’t be weird if there are plants on other planets; however, what if these plants are sentient and possess the ability to move at will?
I’ve seen plants invading earth in movies before and there are at least three kind of invasions. The first one comes from The Creepshow where we see a plant spreading and consuming all on its path; the second one is from Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the invasion occurs by creating duplicates of the population or taking control of them like parasites; and the last one is from “Little Shop of Horrors” where a giant plant monster starts to kill everyone in its path (for more information about Man-Eating Plants check this entry). Any way you look at it, we are screwed as we seen in games like Mass Effect where we have the Thorian, the Puffstool from Pikmin, several Piranha plants in Super Mario Galaxy, the Martians from Ultima: Worlds Of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams that are derived from plants among many others.
I’m starting to run out of covers
For people that know about video game sims that become kind of boring after certain point, they probably played or heard about Spore. This is a game in which you can create your own aberration against nature, phallic creatures, copyright infringement monsters and if you are really crazy enough, an original alien that can actually make sense.
Anybody that hasn’t played Metroid can tell me what’s this thing supposed to be?
This is the category that I use to describe any kind of creature that I really don’t know how to classify. Here we have creatures like slime monsters, monsters with strange mismatching limbs and other body parts, and other weird looking aliens that are kind of hard to describe. This is a problem that I have with aliens like the ones from Alien Storm, Alien Soldier, Prey and several others.
9- Cosmic Entities
This might sound like an unnecessary long addition to an already long entry, but I really think that I should talk about this, because this is a concept that you don’t usually see very often unless you have ever read some hardcore sci-fi books or marvel comics (particularly Dr. Strange). These can be described as a Cosmic Entity; a being sometimes describes as pure energy, with the power to control the minds of people, whose appearance can defies our perception of reality and drive us insane with only one look, and that are essentially immortal (but they can reside a mortal body in order to enter to our plane).
It’s hard to find a good examples in video games, in fact the only alien that I know that can be compared with a cosmic entity is Giygas from the Mother/Earthbound franchise, who at the beginning of the first game he was more a of a Grey Person but by the second game for the SNES, his body and mind were destroyed and adopted a form that cannot be comprehended by mortal eyes. Another example could be the Chakravartian from Asura’s Wrath or several enemies in Final Fantasy (like the Cloud of Darkness) and I’m pretty sure that there are more examples of cosmic entities but most of them are just Demons, Gods and similar which in theory are entities but not the ones for this kind of Bestiarium.
And now for what makes aliens such a threat.
Aliens need a way of transportation, portals like as we seen in Stargate are fancy and all of that but when they really need to travel across the space or just cause some destruction at interplanetary scale they use a space ship. These vary depending of the mission and/or crew. If they are just some explorers they usually use a small ship equipped with gadgets like lasers and beams to abduct local cows. If they are an entire troop they use a big ship filled with big guns that carries a squadron of soldiers ready to kill everyone in their way. And if they really want to obliterate a world they use a big ass flying saucer of doom with several turrets and bridges that carry even more ships; if this thing comes to your neighborhood you better run for your life.
Laser beams and other fancy gadgets of destruction
Aliens are more advanced in technology, which means that they have several kinds of weapons that can kill you in different ways. We are talking about laser beams, bubbles to catch humans, light sabers to cut you into pieces and many other weapons that will put end to your life in the most painful way possible, so good luck!!
Aliens aren’t like us, they might look like us, talk like us and even dress like us, but they are just different. To begin with, humans aren’t faster than a speeding bullet, we are not more powerful than a locomotive and we definitely can’t leap tall buildings with a single bound; but aliens can do everything they want because why not? The most common powers that alien have are mental powers such as telekinesis or telepathy among several others, but other examples includes super strength, speed, endurance, the ability to fly and throw energy beams. So that means besides their ships and weapons they can also kill us with their bare hands. Great.
So, after all this information about how the aliens will totally blast your ass up to space when you try to fight them, let’s explore the reason of why they do that in the first place. Unlike other enemies in the Bestiarium that seems to not have a goal other than survival, there’s at least three main goals in pretty much any game that I played, like…
Reason number 1: Our world is better than theirs
We have water, a lot of minerals, food, and forests so aliens are like “you know what? Our world it’s crap, so let’s take theirs” and boom, alien invasion! This is basically the reason that I can find for more alien invasions that came out of nowhere like Space Invaders, Alien Storm, Gears of War, etc and etc.
Reason number 2: They need… something.
Why do they always take the hottest ones?
Because of our world is very vast and diverse, it is possible that we have something or somebody that other alien species might find valuable and worthy of exterminating everything to get it. It might be water, plants, or in most cases “humans”. Because when you are an alien and you need to prepare some experiments, find some cheap labor, try to not die as a virgin… I mean reproduction, or food, they do what any good noble or rich person before 1863 will do: they get some slaves! Sadly I assume that there’s a anti-slavery policy that forbids them of using their own people, but that’s okay because there’s a loophole that allows them to use humans, or at least that’s my theory for most of the invasions. In just a few cases there’s an actual good reason of why they use humans as Guinea pigs such as in Mass Effect, where it’s revealed that the reason why they started to robotize humans in the most Dr. Robotnik way possible is to fight the threat of the Reapers. Now talking about the awkward territory of reproduction, I’ve seen that in games like Duke Nukem 3D, where aliens abduct women to give birth to the Alien Queen, but this is more like an extra achievement rather than the main goal, not to mention the parasites that we see in the Alien video games in which humans are used to create xenomorphs. The final reason why they need us is because we are a good source of proteins, vitamins, and part of a nutritious breakfast, which makes me think that aliens have a really bad taste in food
Reason number 3: Humans just need to die because…
One of my favorite internet theories about Earth is that it’s like a zoo and is constantly watched by aliens for their amusement. Considering how dumb our reality shows are, I wouldn’t be surprised if aliens do something like this with us, I mean we could even be the Jersey Shore of the intergalactic T.V. But I’m missing the point (…I’m working on a Power Ranger script about this. I guess it will only work in Japan.) You’ll see the theory says that we are all monitored to reach to a certain level of evolution and progress in science so we can… do what their plans want us to do (as I said it’s an internet theory, it doesn’t have to make much sense). If we screw up everything, if we instead of creating cure for diseases we create guns of mass destruction, if instead of preserving nature we just kill anything that is not human or doesn’t think like us, and if instead of making Half-Life 3 we make a new Team Fortress with 70% being new hats, we would turn into a menace for the universe.
In some cases just the mere fact of being human is more than enough to justify the genocide as we seen in games like Halo where the Covenant Empire sees that humans are basically the prove that their religion is wrong and they want to exterminate us before the rest of the members finds about this. In some cases, this reason doesn’t apply just to humans because it can also be used for the rest of the galaxy and that’s the logic of enemies like the Reapers in Mass Effect or the Zerg from Starcraft.
Really, after all of this is no wonder why they are so recurrent in video games. I mean, unlike Dragons or Vampires, Aliens aren’t just AN enemy, they are THE ENEMY. And after all what we seen, you better be prepared because in one way or another, these guys will kick your ass.
The invasion is coming