Alpha Mission (NES)

Alpha Mission Box Art

Alpha Mission

System: NES

Release Date: October 1987

Developer: SNK

Publisher: SNK

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

Alpha Mission is billed as not being a conventional shoot ‘em up. I’ll say that it’s not conventional in a bad way. Really, when I was playing, it felt like the lasers that the ship fires didn’t hit enemies when they should have. There were a lot more misses than I think was right.

Avoid the backward K at all costs, it’s totally a strikeout.

Alpha Mission is really your standard fare. Aliens are on their way to Earth conquer or destroy Earth and it’s up to you to pilot the star fighter SYD to save it. You have lasers, which you shoot with the B Button and missiles which you shoot with the A Button. The novel feature in this game are special powerups that you can find by destroying pyramids with the missiles. Some of these powerups are positive. S increases your speed, L augments your lasers, M strengthens your missiles. I believe the K allows you to keep your increases if you die.

The arsenal of weapons available.

You also find a copious amount of E icons, which add to your energy meter. You need these to use your arsenal of weapons. These can be found in pyramids, as well, and give you different attacks with your lasers or missiles. I found the most useful weapon was no weapon at all, but instead, the shield. And then there are the other icons you can find. Some warp you ahead or behind, or drain your energy, or straight up take everything away from you. Avoid everything at all costs!

The boss of level 2 requires missiles to defeat.

The bosses I faced were standard avoid the bullets and shoot the weak point affair, but I don’t think this game was nearly as strategic as SNK thought it would be.

Graphics: 1.5

I feel like there are more colors than your typical space shooter, but still a LOT of green.

Sound: 1.0

I thought the music and sound was fairly poor. I certainly wouldn’t choose to listen to it.

Gameplay: 1.0

The design of having lasers and missiles in a vertical scrolling shooter is nothing new, but this didn’t do it particularly well.

Difficulty: 1.0

If you don’t get a speed powerup immediately when you start a life, just resign yourself to death.

Fun Factor: 1.0

I don’t know, I might have forced myself to enjoy this if it was a new purchase and I was bored with everything else.

Overall Grade: 1.1

Alpha Mission earns a D. You might like some of the gameplay that I did not, but this isn’t my kinid of shoot ‘em up.

Alpha Mission Video Review on YouTube