Alien Defense 101 Review

Alien Defense 101 Review

Sep 29, 2011

The Earth is under attack from hundreds of ships, giant saucers, meteor showers and… exploding jellyfish? Well, yeah, exploding jellyfish! Actually, if you can get past the idea that humanity’s last hope is a solo rookie on his first day of training, then I guess exploding jellyfish won’t be too much of a stretch for you, will it? Nevertheless, there are exploding jellyfish in Alien Defense 101, and they are just one of the many strange aliens you will encounter.

As far as space shooters go, Alien Defense 101 does it’s best to cover all the basics. Waves of aliens descending from the top of the screen in patterns, power-ups, battles with tough foes and plenty of chances to die in a flaming wreck. But then it tries to experiment with some new ideas in how to play a space shooter.

One experimental idea is to swap out the usual control interface layout for a slider control that feels more like a mousepad than a d-pad, giving you absolute movement across the entire range of the field. It actually makes sense to use a slider, seeing as how the game displays in landscape view and widens the field beyond the edges of the screen. With a quick swipe, you can go edge-to-edge and quickly position yourself to face incoming enemies.

Another idea is how the game displays, using a pseudo-3D view, almost curving the screen at the edges and doing some other tricks with the background to give you more of a feeling of depth. It’s hard to describe, but it does give Alien Defense 101 a unique way of displaying the action.

Being a space shooter, the gameplay is your usual fare. As I mentioned earlier, waves of aliens descend to attack you — including exploding jellyfish — and you must do your best to dispatch them with the single life you’re given. The game plays out in stages with a consistent health meter, meaning that you don’t recharge at the beginning of each stage. Annoyingly, however, your weapons revert back to stock, leaving you just a little more helpless each time. Your best hope is to catch a health power-up or you won’t last very long. Speaking of weapons, while the game is free, you can purchase a weapon upgrade pack in-game for US$1.99, giving you additional weapons to help you in your battle.

After a certain number of stages, you unlock the next level so that you don’t have to start completely from scratch. You also get a little more of the story, as told to you by Captain Cody who, aggravatingly, shows up via text and a small image right in the middle of the screen. The game doesn’t even stop so that you can read his ramblings, either, it just keeps going while you crash into multiple oncoming ships.

Alien Defense 101 is an odd space shooter, maintaining a good level of fun with some unusual ideas thrown in. However, it’s hindered by terrible music, simplistic graphics that could use a lot of polish and average gameplay.

Alien Defense 101 Review Rundown

5
Graphics/Sound - The visuals are very basic. Stylized, but not very polished and, in some places, not very attractive. Honestly, it resembles a primitive Flash game, and while the pseudo-3D effect is nice, it's not enough. Captain Cody's text transmissions are just aggravating. Why put them in the middle of the screen, blocking your view? The best I can say about the music is that you can turn off the sound and not have to hear it at all.
6
Controls - Quite frankly, the controls are weird. Yes, the slider makes sense given the wide range of movement, but they aren't very precise, requiring a lot of adjustment to stay on target. Kudos for using the menu button to fire weapons, however. It's always nice to have the option of using physical controls.
6
Gameplay - Nothing very ground-shattering here, as it's your standard space shooter. More power-ups would have been nice, holding on to power-ups from stage to stage would have been nice, too. It's just your average, basic shooter fare without too much to make it special.
6
Replay Value - You get a ton of missions here, enough to play for a few hours before it's all over. Then, you can try your hand at a higher difficulty level, assuming you want to. The game also features HeyZap integration and extra power-ups if you can beat your previous scores. The Captain Cody character helps keep it from being completely forgettable.
6
Overall - A simple, odd, but just average shooter. The few interesting ideas and concepts give it some unique qualities, but don't really make it any better. "Free" is the perfect price point for this game, and I'm not sure extra weapons would make it any better. Really, it comes down to the poor graphics and the usual shooter gameplay that drag it down. It's fun, but there are much better games available.

App available on the Google Play Store »

Dale Culp
Dale Culp has been writing about video games in print and on the web for the better part of the last 10 years. From the Atari 2600 to the Xbox 360 and beyond, he's covered just about everything. You'll find his work in places such as TheWeekender.com, GoLackawanna.com, Gamesylvania.com, EscapistMagazine.com and even IGN.com
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