Suffice to say there’s a more than a little bit of deja-vu when approaching Sega’s Alien Syndrome title for the PSP. First conceived as an arcade title in the 1987, that it’s taken this long to get ported first to the Nintendo Wii and now to the PSP is a either a sure sign of potential under the radar brilliance or a disaster in the waiting.
Unfortunately, being a Sega fanboy, Alien Syndrome falls into the later of those two categories. While a blend between the role-playing depth of a Diablo 2 and the top-down button-bashing of a Gauntlet seems like a winning idea, Alien Syndrome gets a little too bogged down and stuck between the two genres to be successful at either.
The storyline, which seems to disappear about ten minutes into the game, has you investigating a derelict space station (aren’t they always) that seems to have been invaded by aforementioned Alien Syndrome and all sorts of weird things have happened.
The game starts off promisingly enough with a selection of major classes to choose from. Be a tank, range, melee or explosive sort of character with the promise of much upgrading and skill sets to be explored as you gain experience. Weapons and character points are assigned and available exclusively to whatever class you have chosen, while stats directly affect the amount of gear you can carry or the damage you can take.
Which all sounds pretty good until you actually board the space station proper. Despite good lighting and weapon effects, the game becomes a matter of simply slogging through the hordes of enemies while attempting to locate the boss alien or the exit to the next level.
Too often players become stuck just battering away at the controls and trying to find the right key or door. To make matters worse, the top-down view often disadvantages gamers and makes any sort of tactical gameplay virtually impossible.
Alien Syndrome was never a superstar of the arcade world and its PSP son is destined to follow down the same path. What should have been a good idea is virtually ruined by poorly conceived combat and repetitive mission designs. Hopefully Sega will dig a little harder into their mammoth archives when plotting their next remake (hint, hint: Shinobi, Ecco)