Two blockbuster titles for the Atari Jaguar. Two games that defined the early days of 3D first person shooters. Two games inspired by the 1980s.
Alien vs. Predator’s influences are obvious. The Alien movie franchise, which got its start with the original Alien in 1979 and reached its commercial peak with 1986’s Aliens, and the Predator franchise which got its start in 1987 with the Arnold Schwarzenegger starring blockbuster. Two great tastes that taste great together you might say? Well, yeah actually. Aline vs. Predator is a great concept for a game and the Jaguar does a very good job of making it work. The game allows you to play in 3 different modes, as the Alien, the Predator, or as a U.S. marine in way over his head. While the game looks and feels similar no matter who you play as, the plot and goal changes depending on which character you play as. As the alien, your job is to rescue the alien queen from the predator’s space ship while repopulating your species by using the marines on the ship as hosts. As the predator, your job is to kill the alien queen, capture her skull all the while doing so with the highest honor. The third campaign, playing as a marine attempting to escape the military base in space that has been invaded by both aliens and predators, is certainly the most frightening and survival horror-like of the three. As the films have taught us, most humans cannot survive against one of these monsters let alone both of them together. All of the missions are tough, but this is easily the mission that requires the most stealth and planning in order to get out alive.
I like Alien vs Predator and feel like it’s concept is original, well thought out and developed. The 3D environment is as expected pretty basic and while the frame rate is unexceptional, the digitized monsters look quite good in my opinion. The game does a good job of assisting the player through the use of the Jaguar controller’s keypad. The game provides 3 different overlays for your controller in order to help you organize your weapons as well as bringing up the map. These overlays are a welcome addition depending on which campaign you are playing. Fun stuff overall and offers tremendous replay value.
I used to play Castle Wolfenstein, or maybe it was Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, back in the 80s on my friend’s Apple IIe computer. I thought the game was cool but I was always more of a fan of the arcade style shooters that he had so I didn’t take the chance to sit down with it much. When Wolfenstein 3D was released for the Jaguar in 1994 as a port of the MS-DOS version released just a couple years earlier, I was intrigued. I knew it had to have something to do with the old computer game I played as a kid but didn’t know how they were connected. As it stands, the connection is merely in influence only as the creators of Wolfenstein 3D, id Software, were not the same developers that created Castle Wolfenstein. The game still takes place in World War 2 Nazi Germany and your task is once again to find and kill Hitler and any of his henchmen (and dogs) that get in your way. Your character is American spy B.J. Blazkowicz and you must take down the Nazi regime, ultimately fighting a mechanized version of Hitler in the finale (awesome ending btw). Your environments during the three main missions include prison, an enemy castle and finally Der Fuhrer’s bunker. As Wolfenstein 3D was released before id’s next game, Doom, it’s unfair to call the gameplay Doom-like. However, I feel like as popular as this game was in the early 90s, Doom was more popular so there are more frames of reference to that game than of Wolfenstein 3D. That said, the gameplay is Doom-like for lack of a better analogy. It’s fair to say that if you weren’t or aren’t a fan of Doom or feel like the FPS style and 2D enemy sprites used for these games aren’t your cup of tea, then Wolfenstein 3D isn’t for you either. I personally think it’s one of the best titles for the Jaguar and while it’s clearly a relic of a gaming era past, there is a lot to still enjoy. It is the granddaddy of first person shooters after all.
Currently in my collection:
Alien vs. Predator – game, manual, box, 3 overlays A-
Wolfenstein 3D – game, manual, box, overlay B+