For the uninitiated out there, ALF was a very popular kids TV show in the US. Not the UK, the US. Let’s get this straight, us Brits know crap when we see it, and ALF was CRAP. Sounding like a drunk version of Lorenzo Music, Gordon Shumway, or ALF* as we all know him was an alien who crash landed into the Tanner’s house, and then chaos ensued. The show was a HUGE hit in the US and spawned music albums, a direct-to-TV movie, tons of merchandise and… video games.
That’s where I come in. I decided to dedicate a ‘WTF Wednesday’ piece to the Master System ALF game, having never played the game and I was surprised to say the least. In a terribly bad way that is.
I hadn’t seen the TV show in decades, though I remember seeing it when I was a wee child. So I went into the game totally non-plussed as to what to expect storyline wise and I left the game just as clueless as I started it. The first screen has you as ALF in a garden, stood in front of what looks like a house and possibly a garage. What looks like a lawnmower is on the roof of the house, and there’s a crashed space ship on top of the garage; a spaceship!! I remember this from the TV show, ALF crash landed on Earth and, of course, he must be trying to get back home in the game and I’ve got to fix the ship and, yeah, I got this now! Then these guys showed up:
And I’m clueless. I don’t know what’s going on at this point. This I don’t remember from the show. I can tell you one thing, you DON’T touch them. They will one-hit-kill you with those horrific grabbing at mid-air hands of theirs. Naturally, with the double entendre ridden society we live in today, I’ll leave it to you to decide what their intentions are with those grabbers of theirs, but they’re creepy beyond hell. It’s never explained in the game who they are, so you just need to they’re evil bastards.
So I reach a road area. And the same kid is riding back on forth on his motorbike. The hit detection on this screen is unbelievably harsh, meaning he can be riding right underneath you, but if your feet are touching the pixels of his hair, you’re jam bread. Even though on-screen, you look like you’re actually about 6 foot away from him, YOU DIE IF YOU TOUCH HIS HAIR. Death by Pantene Pro-V. The guys are still shuffling round here with those pinchers of theirs too so if you’re not getting run over, you’re getting molested on the pavement.
The game has you running around in the most generic of locations, getting the usual expected mix of random items, which don’t always make sense as to why you’re collecting them. Luckily, ALF explains to you that he just picked up the salami because it will help with the bats in the basement. Forget the fact you were just in the kitchen and might be able to pick up a knife or even a chopping board, no, this idiot ET is going to swing around a length of salami.
And even worse, there are no sound effects in the game. Just this soul-destroying jingle which feels like it’s repeating over and over every 10 seconds. It is audio agony. I mean soul-destroying. You’d rather there were no music at all, and just some crappy sound effects so at least you wouldn’t have to hear them over and over again.
So anyway, I use the salami to beat the bats, which earned me money to go to the shop and buy a key, which works in my house so I can now unlo- hang on… I can buy keys for my house from the local shop? Brilliant. Anyway, I unlock the closet, get myself a swimsuit so I can now jump in the pond outside. Swimming in the pond and I got to avoid literal catfish and evil harpooners so I can go find some treasure. The treasure enables me to go back to the shop so I can buy a ladder. I go play chicken with the biker and grabbers again so I can go to the other shop and buy a lantern, which, when I go BACK into the basement, allows me to carry on further into the cave to pick up a fuel pellet which I can now use on the lawnmower to get me back into space.
Lawnmower?? Apparently, I should have just ignored the ship he crashed in, because it was actually this skate-board like thing on the roof I was supposed to use and, god, why did I play this?? Anyway, now you can ride this mini ship into space whilst dodging aeroplanes, other spaceships, comets, all with the slightest of margins to try and avoid them all. Reach the moon, get your repair kit and… that’s it. It took me half an hour to end my torture. You realise these last two paragraphs are the entire game right? This was the FIRST TIME I’VE PLAYED THIS ATROCITY. I looked up some ‘longplays’ on Youtube, and found others who’ve completed the game in less than 10 minutes. It’s special, but for all the wrong reasons…
Receiving a kick in the knackers would do more for your life than having to play ALF on the Master System. At least you could then fight back and learn a bit about being a man. Playing ALF is just surreal. How did a developer string this mess together and believe it to be a solid offering?? Which poor sods in 1989 bought this for kids thinking they’d just done a solid and become parents of the year? You play ALF in 2017 because you want to remind yourself that everything wasn’t actually always rosy in the ‘good ol’ days’ of gaming. That when the youngsters of today say, “It can’t ALL have been that great!”, you remember ALF and realise they’re right. To cheer us up, let’s watch ALF blow himself up to smithereens.
*ALF = Alien Life Form. Clever!
Catch me swinging my salami @Auto2112