If one had to find a poster child for successes in indie development, one would need look no further than The Behemoth’s Alien Hominid. Originally developed as a game for the flash portal Newgrounds, Alien Hominid has gone on to be released on the Playstation 2, Xbox, GameCube, GBA, and is now making an appearance in glorious High-definition on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade. The game has received awards left and right over the past three years both for its excellence in style and graphical prowess, but also for featuring gameplay that harkens back to the golden era of 2D gaming. Alien Hominid is the perfect fit for Microsoft’s Arcade platform, sporting all 16 levels, 7 mini-games, online leaderboards, and multiplayer. And somehow they fit that under the 50mb cap. What kind of sorcery allowed them to do that, we may never know.
Alien Hominid puts you in the shoes (or the hat, I should say) of a little yellow alien who crash-lands on Earth and has his spaceship stolen by the FBI. You’ll have to trek across the world through 16 rather spectacularly hand-drawn levels to finally pry your beloved ship from the hands of your enemies. Along the way, you’ll find yourself shooting hordes of FBI, Army, KGB, helicopters, giant robots, and maybe even a Yeti or two. The majority of the game is a side-scrolling shooter; very much a throwback to the 32-bit era. Some of the levels are more heavily platform based, but there’s also the occasional vehicle segment thrown in as well. For a rookie outing, Behemoth seemed to have a pretty strong idea of what it takes to keep what would normally be an extremely repetitive game and continuously keep it fresh.
What will really endear you to the game is the hand-drawn art style, which looks as gorgeous as it ever has on a big HD television. All the characters are hand-animated, with a simple but cartoony style that helps to maintain the light-hearted and slightly goofy tone of the game. The bosses and mini-bosses that populate the game are huge in scale and a joy to look at, even as they pound you into the ground. The framerate keeps up at a constant clip, even as you tear the heads off soldier after soldier with a second player.
Coming at 800 marketplace points, or $10, Alien Hominid is one of the best values to be had on Xbox Live Arcade, period. The game is difficult even on the easiest difficulty setting, but can be mastered over time with some patience and practice. Behemoth had the good courtesy to let less skilled players resume play from their furthest point of progress, and for players looking to master the more difficult bosses for a continue-less play-through, this is especially handy. The game is designed in such a way that it can be played and enjoyed time and time again, if not to try and ascend the leaderboard, than just because it’s fun for its own sake. Alien Hominid is a download you won’t soon regret.